On a bright summer’s day in June 1887, a procession of mounted kings and princes moved sedately through the streets of London in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Amid such illustrious company, all eyes were drawn to the ‘towering Lohengrin-like figure’ of the future German Emperor Frederick III in his imperial helmet, silver breastplate and the brilliant white uniform of the Cuirassier Guards. The cheering crowds could never have believed that he had less than a year to live, or that ‘our Fritz’, the hero of Koniggrätz, Worth and Sedan, would soon appear as little more than a silent portrait hanging on the walls of history. So often throughout his life, duty, modesty and loyalty obliged him to remain silent, concealing his own achievements and stifling his opinions. Tragically, when at last he was free to speak with authority, he was rendered voiceless by a painful and debilitating illness. To those who knew him well, however, he truly deserved the epithet, ‘Frederick the Noble’, whose heroic stoicism in the face of suffering equalled and even surpassed his courage on the battlefield.
My new book, The Silent Emperor, is available now worldwide in Kindle & paperback formats.