Exhibition: Auguste Viktoria -
The last German Empress

From 1 September 2023

The temporary special exhibition in the Prince's Apartment at Hohenzollern Castle presents numerous personal items from the estate of the last German Empress Auguste Viktoria, including clothing, uniforms and jewellery.

As the wife of Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941), Empress Auguste Viktoria (1858-1921) shaped the official image of the German Empire for more than three decades until its downfall in 1918.

"Dona", as she was called in the family, was part of the network of relations between Prussia and Great Britain. Her high sense of duty and discipline as well as her conservative moral views made her a typical representative of her class at the end of the 19th century.

In matters of dress and representation, Germany's mother initially played a rather subordinate role. Her provincial origins were constantly ridiculed by the court, and Auguste Viktoria's art of appearance left much to be desired, at least in the first years of her husband's reign. However, her routine at public events and her increasing influence on her husband's politics made the empress more and more self-confident in playing her intended role.

After her last pregnancies, the monarch became increasingly involved in her fields of interest - church, social affairs, charity and women's education - and later also in politics. She took on a great deal of responsibility in these areas, which was also respected beyond the country's borders. She was increasingly perceived by contemporaries as the ideal candidate for the "First Woman in the State".

Even the changing fashions after 1910 suited the empress's imposing, tall and slender figure so much that she became the fashion icon par excellence for more than a decade. Typical of Germany's most photographed woman were the sweeping hats with huge ostrich feathers and the high balloon hairstyle, combined with floor-length dresses. The "hobble skirts" created around 1910/12 in the style of the Neo-Directoire particularly benefited Auguste Victoria's line. The emperor also commissioned a whole series of new jewellery ensembles in the neoclassical style to further emphasise the empress's importance as one of the first women on the continent.

The empress was also considered a typical representative of her rank in the field of sport. She was passionate about tennis, gymnastics, excellent horseback riding and owned the fastest sailing yacht in the country, the S.M.Y. "Iduna". With her, she undertook extensive cruises off the German-Danish coast during the summer and competed in several races a year between Kiel and Travemünde.

In all her political, social and societal projects, as modern as they may sometimes seem from today's perspective, she never left any doubt about the role of the dynasty of the House of Hohenzollern and tried to preserve the monarchy in a rapidly changing world.

The exhibition was only made possible by the generous willingness of a private collector to make parts of the estate of Empress Auguste Viktoria available to the public. The presentation was supplemented by further private loans and objects from the collections of the former Prussian royal house.

The exhibition is located in the Fürstenwohnung, part of the museum rooms of Hohenzollern Castle, and is therefore already included in the regular castle admission fee.