In July of 1894 Empress Augusta Victoria, long suffering, but adoring, consort to Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm ll received a curious letter. In it, the anonymous author asked her the difference between herself and France’s Queen Marie Leszczynska, consort of Louis XV? Answer: Most of the French queen’s children with her husband had died young, whereas all of Louis XV’s illegitimate offspring lived to ripe old ages. In Augusta’s case, the letter writer specified her kids with Wilhelm were all healthy and thriving, whereas her husband’s only bastard had recently perished. Most historians now believe this potentially blackmailing note, which was one of hundreds sent to various members of the German Imperial Family and Court over a four year period during the early 1890s, and containing their darkest secrets, was probably written by the Empess’s brother, Duke Ernst Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein and his mistress.
John Rohl writes in Wilhelm, The Kaiser’s Personal Monarchy, 1888-1900, that they’d already begun terrorizing Berlin high society with their special brand of billet douxs when, sometime in 1891, the illicit couple purloined the diary of the Kaiser’s little sister, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen, while attending a weekend orgy she hosted at one of her country estates. Wilhelm ll subsequently called for an investigation which after several years was closed abruptly without an official perpetrator being found. It now seems plausible the Kaiser chose to call off the witch hunt once he discovered the letter writer was his brother-in-law. While the motivations for the disgruntled Duke’s en masse blackmailing, if he indeed was the culprit, will likely never be known conclusively, it likely resulted from his bitterness at not receiving what he considered his fair share of imperial spoils he thought his due owing to his sister’s marriage.
The recently expired, alleged bastard mentioned in the letter addressed to the Kaiserin was the unfortunate product of her husband’s rumored liaison with a Vienna courtesan named Caroline Seiffort. Henry Fischer and “Ursula, Countess von Eppinghoven,” tell the brief, tragic tale of this particular episode in Kaiser Willy’s private life in their memoir, Private Lives of Kaiser William ll and His Court. The story begins in 1882. Having agreed to his arranged marriage with the plain, none too sparkling Princess Augusta, nicknamed Dona, whom even Chancellor von Bismark referred to as that cow from Holstein, and fulfilling his duty to pump as many babies in her as Augusta’s womb could stand to spit out, she was pregnant with their second son in as many years of marriage at the moment, Wilhelm beat a hasty retreat to Vienna where his best friend at the time, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria-Hungary, and a bevy of open legged beauties awaited to receive Willy in their warm embrace.
Fischer then states the Imperial Viennese Court, despite its outwardly conservative appearance, was privately notorious among its counterparts on the continent for its especially loose morals. Wilhelm, both as heir presumptive to the German Imperial Throne and later as Kaiser, could hardly step foot in the Austrian capital without being besieged by an avalanche of secret billet doux sent mostly by married aristocratic ladies whose husbands were more than happy for their wives to discreetly bang the future emperor, provided these wives allowed them the same freedom with other women. Fischer also writes more than a few same sex inclined male dandies at the Habsburg court took a shine to Wilhelm as well, and even indicates Emperor Franz Joseph ll’s little brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig, made a written, amorous overture toward Willy once. These particular requests, that Wilhelm apparently wasn’t shy about laughingly sharing with his courtiers, for the time being went unrequited.
Part of the reason why Wilhelm and Rudolf were such BFFs in the early 1880s, aside from both being self indulgent, power mongering heirs to imperial thrones forced to acquiesce to arranged marriage to princesses they could easily live without, and forced to wait for the expiration of fathers they could also easily live without, was that they were both raging p***y hounds perennially short on cash, but whose status ensured they’d be extended long, generous lines of credit at the finest brothels and watering holes in their respective capitals. “Countess von Eppinghoven,” however, states Wilhelm at one point drew away from Rudolph once it became clear the Ausro-Hungarian heir had grown so bored with the usual pleasures of the fair sex that he’d developed a taste for pedophelia, preferring mistresses as young as 13. Prior to that, however, he was happy to share more age appropriate courtesans with Wilhelm, and once such professional lady of leisure was a fräulein named Caroline Seiffort.
According to a story told to the memoir’s narrator by Madame von Kotze, who would one day become Kaiser Wilhelm ll’s maitresse en titre along with her chief rival at court, Countess Friederich Hohenau, Miss Seiffert wasn’t highly regarded for her intelligence by either of her imperial patrons, and at one point Wilhelm told her he thought she wasn’t even bright enough to produce a child. From that point onwards, according to Kotze, Caroline resolved to conceive a “spite baby” that would not only make a fool out of the prince, but whose existence would no doubt provide steady income for its mother for the foreseeable future. She soon put her plan into action, duly f****d a baby out of Wilhelm, withdrew from the Vienna social scene once her condition became delicate, and then, in either August or September of 1882, several weeks after the birth of Willy and Donna’s second son, Eitel Friederich, Mademoiselle Seiffort safely delivered Prince Wilhelm a healthy baby daughter.
She next sent a brief telegram to her imperial baby daddy at the Marble Palace in Berlin announcing the happy news. While the Imperial Court was well aware of Willy’s previous infatuation with Fräulein Seiffort, which amused Crown Prince Friederich but horrified Crown Princess Victoria, Wilhelm nonetheless dismissed and ignored the telegram on the pretext that the baby momma, who’d bent over backwards for countless other men to show them a good time, could never prove the infant was his. He informed Prince Reuss, the German ambassador to Austria-Hungary at the time, to similarly dismiss Caroline should she show up to the embassy demanding support for her bastard.
Prince Reuss obeyed the command, and when Miss Seiffort indeed arrived at his residence in Vienna carrying her little bundle of joy swathed in a blanket, he dismissed the infant as a “harlequin” composed of too many parts to possibly conclude its chief engineer was Prince Wilhelm. Unperturbed, Caroline then calmly removed the blanket covering her child’s body to reveal the unmistakable mark of Prince Wilhelm’s paternity: like her imperial father, the poor little darling possessed a misshapen gimp arm, several inches shorter than its counterpart! With that undeniable proof, the ambassador shut the f**k up; cabled back to his imperial master to make arrangements for discreet, monthly child support payments; and the whole matter was swept under the rug until the unfortunate little girl died; and the Kaiserin received a surreptitious letter, likely written by her own brother, reminding her of the whole episode.
Of course, the author can’t vouch for the veracity of this story, having only read it in one memoir, but this same memoir’s other revelations have proven themselves more than factual in the century since its publication, and the author wouldn’t be surprised if this sordid little tale actually happened. If true, it proves emphatically the Kaiser’s malformed arm was the fault of his heredity, and not the misusage by the midwife of a pair of forceps as he himself claimed. Tis a pity this birth defect only made him a bigger asshole than he was already predisposed toward being. At least it ensured his illegitimate daughter spent her brief life in comfort. Of course, had Willy not been such an obnoxious dick to the girl’s mother, she wouldn’t have been conceived as an act of revenge in the first place. Royal history’s full of odd little ironies!