This autumn, Paleis Het Loo will be opening an exhibition about the last Emperor in Europe, Wilhelm II, a striking personality in European history. The exhibition traces his tumultuous life, from the years of glory to his abdication. The exhibition has been developed in close collaboration with Museum Huis Doorn and is built up around collection items from that museum.
From his birth, Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was destined to become ruler of a German Empire that was becoming increasingly powerful. The life at the court of the emperor was imperially excessive: enormous parties alternated with military parades. The emperor was proud of his lineage going back to the Orange Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik, which meant he held the title of ‘Prince of Orange’. Wilhelm II and Queen Wilhelmina often paid visits to each other, both official and informal. In 1914, with total commitment, he threw himself into the First World War, but the end of the war also meant the end of his empire. He was given asylum in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral during the war, and took up residence in Huis Doorn, where he lived until his death in 1941.
The accent in the exhibition ‘The Kaiser!’ will not only be placed on the imperial glory, such as the parade uniforms, but also on the personal possessions the ex-Kaiser took with him to the Netherlands: the gifts from his grandmother Queen Victoria of England, his travel mementoes, war diaries and the special cutlery made for him to compensate for his paralysed left arm. Highlight of the exhibition is the reconstruction of the gala dinner that the Emperor and his wife Auguste Victoria gave in 1913 in Berlin to celebrate the marriage of their daughter.
In Huis Doorn, the residential period of Emperor Wilhelm II in the Netherlands (the period 1918-1941) is given prime attention. Thanks to the collaboration between the two museums, the exhibition ‘The Kaiser!’ can tell the life story of Wilhelm II in a much broader context.