by Scott Mehl
In the days preceding the Kingdom of Prussia, the Berlin Cathedral was the usual burial place for the Dukes of Prussia and Electors of Brandenburg. The Royal Crypt below the Cathedral is the final resting place of several of the Kings of Prussia as well. It wasn’t uncommon to have a cenotaph built and displayed in the Cathedral itself, while having the actual tomb down in the Crypt. Unfortunately, the Cathedral was bombed in World War II and many of the tombs were damaged or destroyed, from the collapse of the Dome and the fire which ensued. The crypt itself was restored and opened to the public again in 1999, but many of the tombs haven’t not yet been restored. One clear example, in the photos below, is the tomb of King Friedrich Wilhelm II.
With the expansion of Sanssouci, we begin to see some of the Prussian royals buried in the Friedenskirche (Church of Peace) as well as elsewhere on the grounds. Several chose to be buried in a mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace, and the last Emperor – Kaiser Wilhelm II, was entombed in a mausoleum built on the grounds of Huis Doorn, his home in exile in the Netherlands, while his two wives were buried at the Antique Temple on the grounds of Sanssouci.
- Friedrich I, reigned January 18, 1701 – February 25, 1713
- Friedrich Wilhelm I, reigned February 25, 1713 – May 31, 1740
- Friedrich II, reigned May 31, 1740, to August 17, 1786
- Friedrich Wilhelm II, reigned August 17, 1786 – November 16, 1797
- Friedrich Wilhelm III, reigned November 16, 1797 – June 7, 1840
- Friedrich Wilhelm IV, reigned June 7, 1840 – January 2, 1861
- Wilhelm I, reigned January 2, 1861 – March 9, 1888
- Friedrich III, reigned March 9, 1888 – June 15, 1888
- Wilhelm II, reigned June 15, 1888 – November 18, 1918 (abdication)
Friedrich I reigned January 18, 1701 – February 25, 1713
Friedrich I was born July 11, 1657, in Königsberg. His parents were Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg, and Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau. Friedrich became Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in 1688 upon the death of his father. In 1701, he crowned himself ‘King in Prussia’, when the Duchy of Prussia was elevated to a kingdom.
Friedrich married three times, to Elisabeth Henrietta of Hesse-Kassel; to Sophia Charlotte of Hanover; and to Sophia Louise of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. From these marriages, there were 3 children, two of whom survived to adulthood, including his son the future Friedrich Wilhelm I.
Friedrich died in Berlin on February 25, 1713, at the age of 55, and is buried at the Berlin Cathedral.
Elisabeth Henrietta of Hesse-Kassel
Elisabeth Henrietta was born November 18, 1661, in Kassel, to William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg. In 1679, she married her cousin, Freidrich, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg, and they had one daughter.
Elisabeth Henrietta died on July 7, 1683, at the age of 21, and is buried at the Berlin Cathedral.
Sophia Charlotte of Hanover
Sophie Charlotte was born on October 30, 1668, in Osnabrück, Germany, to Ernst August, Elector of Hanover and Sophia of the Palatinate. Her older brother later became King George I of Britain. She and Friedrich had two children, including the future King Friedrich Wilhelm I.
Sophie Charlotte died of pneumonia on January 21, 1705, in Hanover. She is buried at the Berlin Cathedral.
Sophie Louise of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Sophia Louise was born May 6, 1685, to Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Grabow and Christine Wilhelmine of Hesse-Homburg. She married King Friedrich on November 28, 1708.
Sophia outlived her husband by over 20 years and died July 29, 1735, at Schwerin Castle in Mecklenburg. She is buried in the Mecklenburg-Schwerin royal crypt at the Schelfkirche St. Nikolai in Schwerin.
Friedrich Wilhelm I
reigned February 25, 1713 – May 31, 1740
Friedrich Wilhelm I was born August 14, 1688, to King Friedrich I and his second wife, Sophia Charlotte of Hanover. He and his wife, Sophia Dorothea of Hanover had 14 children, including Frederick the Great, and Queen Louisa Ulrika of Sweden.
King Friedrich Wilhelm I died May 31, 1740, in Berlin, and was originally interred at the Garrison Church in Potsdam. During World War II, his remains were removed and hidden away, and were later found by American Forces and reburied at St Elisabeth’s Church in Marburg. In 1953, his remains were moved to Hohenzollern Castle where they remained until 1991. At that point, his coffin was finally laid to rest on the steps of the altar at the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum at the Friedenskirche.
Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Sophia Dorothea was born on March 16, 1687 in Hanover, the daughter of the future George I of Great Britain and Sophia Dorothea of Celle. On November 28, 1706, she married her first cousin, the future Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia. The marriage produced 14 children in total, despite the marriage not being a very happy one. Sophia had a very close relationship with her son, the future Frederick the Great.
Queen Sophia Dorothea survived her husband by 17 years and died on June 28, 1757, in Berlin. She is buried in the Berlin Cathedral.
Friedrich II (Federick the Great)
reigned May 31, 1740 – August 17, 1786
Friedrich II (best known as Frederick the Great) was born January 24, 1712 in Berlin, the son of King Friedrich Wilhelm I and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. While his father had been immensely interested in all things military, Friedrich excelled in the arts – especially music. This contributed to a very tense relationship with his father, although he enjoyed a very close relationship with his mother. In 1733, he married Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern, but they spent most of their lives separated, seeing each other only a handful of times after he became King. As they had no children, Friedrich was succeeded by his nephew, Friedrich Wilhelm II.
Friedrich II died quietly in his study at Sanssouci on August 17, 1786, at the age of 74. He’d left very strict instructions that he wished to be buried on the grounds of Sanssouci with little fuss or fanfare. However, his nephew instead had Friedrich buried in the Garrison Church, Potsdam, with his father. During World War II, his remains were removed and hidden away, and were later found by American Forces and reburied at St Elisabeth’s Church in Marburg. In 1953, his remains were moved to Hohenzollern Castle where they remained until 1991. Finally, on the 205th anniversary of his death, Fredrick the Great’s wishes were granted. His casket lay in state in the court of honor at Sanssoucci with a guard of honor. Late that night, he was laid to rest in the plot he had designated before his death – on the terrace overlooking the vineyards at Sanssouci – near the graves of his beloved dogs.
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern
Elisabeth Christine, the daughter of Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, was born in Wolfenbüttel November 8, 1715. She married the future Frederick the Great on June 12, 1733, but the marriage proved to be childless. Frederick had no interest in Elisabeth and once he became king, the two lived separately, seeing each other only a few times.
Queen Elisabeth Christine died January 13, 1797, at the Stadtschloss in Berlin. She is buried at the Berlin Cathedral.
Friedrich Wilhelm II
reigned August 17, 1786 – November 16, 1797
Friedrich Wilhelm II was born September 25, 1744, at the Stadschloss in Berlin. His parents were Prince August Wilhelm, the second son of King Friedrich Wilhelm I, and Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. He succeeded his uncle, King Friedrich II, as King of Prussia in 1786. He married twice – first, to Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and second, to Frederika Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt. Neither marriage was very happy, and he had many affairs.
Friedrich Wilhelm died November 16, 1797, at the Marble Palace (Marmorpalais) in Potsdam. He is buried at the Berlin Cathedral.
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Elisabeth Christine was born in Wolfenbüttel on November 8, 1746. Her parents were Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Princess Philippine Charlotte of Prussia, a sister of Frederick the Great. She married the future Friedrich Wilhelm II on July 14, 1765. They had one child, a daughter Frederica, who later married the Duke of York and Albany, a son of King George III of the United Kingdom. Elisabeth and Friedrich Wilhelm’s marriage was dissolved in 1769, but she retained her title of Crown Princess of Prussia.
Elisabeth Christine died February 18, 1840 in Szczecin (Stettin), Poland, and was buried in a mausoleum on the grounds of the Ducal Castle. It is speculated that she was later reburied in the cathedral of Krakow.
Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
Frederika Louisa was born in Prenzlau on October 16, 1751, the daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. Frederika married the future Friedrich Wilhelm II almost immediately after his first marriage was dissolved, on July 14, 1769, at the Charlottenburg Palace. Together they had 8 children, 6 of whom lived to adulthood.
Queen Frederika Louisa died in Berlin, August 25, 1805. She is buried at the Berlin Cathedral.
Friedrich Wilhelm III
reigned November 16, 1797 – June 7, 1840
Friedrich Wilhelm III was born August 3, 1770, in Potsdam, the son of Friedrich Wilhelm II and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt. On December 24, 1793, he married Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The couple had 10 children, including two sons who would become Kings of Prussia, and a daughter Charlotte who became Empress of Russia through her marriage to Tsar Nicholas I.
Friedrich Wilhelm III died in Berlin on June 7, 1840, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV. He is buried at the Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace.
Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Louise was born on March 10, 1776, in Hanover, to Duke Charles of Mecklenburg and Landgravine Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt. Considered a great beauty of her time, Louise married the future Friedrich Wilhelm III on December 24, 1793, and the two enjoyed a very happy marriage, producing a total of 10 children.
At the young age of 34, Queen Louise died on July 19, 1810, while visiting her father in Strelitz. She was buried in the gardens of Charlottenburg Palace, over which a mausoleum was built. In 1814, her husband King Friedrich Wilhelm III established the Order of Louise, in tribute and remembrance of his wife.
Friedrich Wilhelm IV
reigned June 7, 1840 – January 2, 1861
Friedrich Wilhelm IV was born in Berlin on October 15, 1795, the eldest son of King Friedrich Wilhelm III and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He married Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria on November 29, 1823. A stroke in 1857 left him significantly incapacitated, both physically and mentally, and as he had no children, his younger brother served as Regent until his death. This brother would succeed him as King Wilhelm I.
Friedrich Wilhelm IV died in Potsdam on January 2, 1861. He is buried with his wife in the crypt of the Friedeskirche, in Sanssouci Park. His heart is buried in the Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace.
Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria
Elisabeth Ludovika was born November 13, 1801, to King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his wife Caroline of Baden. She had a twin sister, Amalie, who later became Queen Consort of Saxony. On November 29, 1823, Elisabeth married the future Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. The couple had no children.
Queen Elisabeth outlived her husband by 12 years and died December 14, 1873, while visiting her sister, Queen Amalie of Saxony, in Dresden. She was buried with her husband in the Crypt of the Friedenskirche, in Sanssouci Park.
reigned January 2, 1861 – March 9, 1888
Wilhelm I was born March 22, 1797, in Berlin, the second son of King Friedrich Wilhelm III and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. As the second son, he was not expected to reign, so he received little education, and spent his life devoted to his military service. He married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach on June 11, 1829, and they had two children. When his elder brother, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, suffered a stroke in 1857, Wilhelm was appointed Regent and succeeded to the throne upon his brother’s death in 1861. It was 10 years later, on January 18, 1871, that the German Empire was created and Wilhelm was created ‘German Emperor’.
Wilhelm I died in Berlin on March 9, 1888, and was succeeded by his only son, Friedrich III. He is buried at the Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace.
Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Augusta was born September 30, 1811, in Weimar, to Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Maria Pavlovna of Russia. Her maternal grandfather was Tsar Paul I of Russia. On June 11, 1829, Augusta married the future Wilhelm I, and had two children. The two endured a sometimes distant and unloving marriage, but she had great hopes that her son’s marriage to the daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom might help to guide them to a more liberal monarchy in the future. These views were not shared by her husband.
Augusta, by now the first German Empress, reconciled with her husband just months before his death. Three months later, her only son, the Emperor Friedrich III would die of throat cancer, and her grandson, Wilhelm II, would become Germany Emperor. Just over a year later, on January 7, 1890, the Empress Augusta passed away. She was buried beside her husband in the Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace.
reigned March 9, 1888 – June 15, 1888
Friedrich III (Fritz) was born October 18, 1831, at the New Palace (Neues Palais) in Potsdam, the only son of King Wilhelm I and Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. On January 25, 1858, Fritz married Princess Victoria, the Princess Royal of the United Kingdom, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria. The couple had eight children and enjoyed a very close and devoted marriage. He succeeded as King of Prussia and German Emperor upon the death of his father in March of 1888. Unfortunately, he was already terminally ill with throat cancer and reigned for only 99 days.
Friedrich III died on June 15, 1888. He is buried in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum at the Friedenskirche in Sanssouci Park, with his wife and two young sons.
Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom
Victoria was born November 21, 1840, the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She married the future Friedrich III of Prussia on January 25, 1858, at the Chapel Royal, St James’ Palace in London. Like her parents, this was truly a love match for the young couple. They had eight children together. Her reign as Queen and Empress Consort was short, as her husband was already terminally ill by the time he became King. After his death, Victoria had a home built in Kronberg, Schloss Friedrichshof, where she lived out her remaining years.
The Empress Friedrich (as she was commonly known) passed away on August 5, 1901, at Schloss Friedrichshof, following a long battle with cancer. She was buried beside her husband in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum at the Friedenskirche in Sanssouci Park. Two of her sons who died as children are buried there as well.
reigned June 15, 1888 – November 18, 1918
Wilhelm II was born January 27, 1859, at the Kronprinzenpalais (Crown Prince’s Palace) in Berlin, the eldest child of Friedrich III and Victoria, Princess Royal of the UK. An injury suffered during birth left him with his left arm significantly damaged and useless. He learned to hide this as a child and continued to do so through the majority of his life. Wilhelm married Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein in 1881 and they had seven children. In 1918, Wilhelm was forced to abdicate as German Emperor and King of Prussia. He spent his remaining years in exile at Huis Doorn in the Netherlands. After Augusta died in 1921, he remarried Hermine Reuss of Greiz.
Wilhelm II died on June 4, 1941, at Huis Doorn. He is buried in the mausoleum on the grounds.
Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
Augusta Viktoria was born October 22, 1858, the daughter of Friedrich VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Her maternal grandmother was Princess Feodora of Leiningen, the elder half-sister of Queen Victoria of the UK. Dona (as she was known) married the future Kaiser Wilhelm II on February 27, 1881, eventually becoming the last Queen of Prussia and German Empress. After her husband’s abdication, she moved with him to Huis Doorn in the Netherlands where she lived out her remaining days.
The Empress Augusta died somewhat unexpectedly on April 11, 1921, at Huis Doorn. Many feel that the abdication and then the suicide of her youngest son, Joachim, contributed to her death. Despite being in exile, Empress Augusta’s remains were returned to Germany and buried in the Antique Temple on the grounds of Sanssouci. Her husband was not allowed to attend, accompanying her coffin to the German border.
Hermine Reuss of Greiz
Hermine was born December 17, 1887, the daughter of Heinrich XXII, Prince Reuss of Greiz and Princess Ida Mathilde of Schaumburg-Lippe. She was first married to Prince Johann of Schönaich-Carolath, and had 5 children. After her first husband passed away, Hermine was introduced to the exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II in Doorn. From all accounts, a very mutual attraction developed and despite the objections of his children, she and Wilhelm married on November 5, 1922. Although they had no children together, Hermine’s youngest daughter, Henriette, married Wilhelm’s grandson, Prince Karl Franz (son of Prince Joachim).
Hermine returned to Germany after Wilhelm’s death and was later held under house arrest following World War II. She died in an Internment Camp near Brandenburg on August 7, 1947. She is buried at the Antique Temple on the grounds of Sanssouci.