Monarchs in the German Empire: Inventors and eccentrics, visionaries and lunatics

In the German Empire, dozens of rulers were represented on the silver and gold coins. But what people hid behind the depicted monarch images on the coins? While only biographical data are to be found in coin catalogs and history books, it is worth looking at the stories surrounding the crowned heads. The story was published in issue 03/2017 of the magazine “Münzen & Sammeln” (“Coins & Collecting”).

The German monarchs offered many interesting examples of human ups and downs. They had unusual hobbies, were either erratic or inventive, some also exaggerated and many art-spirited. Emperor William II was one of the greatest eccentrics among the monarchs. On several days he was to change the parade uniform several times, and being a gifted huntsman – as long as the boar was forced right in front of his gun.

But “Wilhelm”, as he is called in German, was not the only monarch in the German Empire, who nowadays is worth noting. Karl, King of Wurttemberg (1864-1891) lived openly gay in a conservative erea, when same-sex love was still considered a disease. Karl, however, regularly appeared together with his male partner in the public, the couple was on the road as a sign of the affinity even in ”partner clothing”. Karl’s successor was also an unconventional and lovable character: William II, King of Wurttemberg (1891-1918), went for a walk regularly in the city centre of the capital, directly interacting with ordinary people, and whenever someone greeted im with a simple “Grüß Gott, Mister King”, the monarch politely withdrew his hat as a sign of respect.

Some rulers, who were described in the article for the readers of “Münzen & Sammeln” (“Coins & Collecting”), were particularly creative. They were far ahead of their time.One example is Leopold, Prince of Lippe (1905-1918). His “Fürst-Leopold-Verwaltungsakademie” was one of the first universities of applied sciences on German soil and at the same time an innovative retraining measure: War-deprived officers should be trained to municipal officials. And there was more to be discovered in the imperial provinces, not only in the far out province of “Lipperland”: Günther Viktor, Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1890-1918) was regarded as a retired human being, but  what he quietly did in his chamber was discovered only long after his death: Countless nude paintings depicting Princess Anna Luise, detail-loving and highly professional in the estimation of art lovers.