The boys sailed a boat together with an American friend. It was said that this was the birth of the Kriegsmarina. Wilhelm and Henry's interest in the navy grew as boys, undoubtedly fueled by visits with their English relatives with visits aboard Royal Navy vessels and fleet reviews. All of this is more important than it may seem. Many in England had for several centuries viewed Prussia and the other German states as allies against England's mortal enemy--France. English kings since George I had been Germans. George I did not even speak English when he came to England. It was a Prussian General that came to Wellington's aid against Napoleon at Waterloo. A variety of factors explain the gradual shift of British thinking to view Prussia and Germany as a foe rather than an ally. Perhaps no single factor was more important than Wilhelm's decission to build the Kriegsmarina into a force that threatened the Royal Navy. Not only was the British view of Germany changed, but it was the Kriegsmarina's U-boats that brought America into World War I against Germany. The end result was that while the Kriegsmarina was enormously expensive and in the end yielded no military successes, it was a major cause in turning both Britain and America against Germany.
Prince Henry was to become a Grand Admiral in the new Krirgsmarina. Henry never rose to the upper command structure of the navy. It is believed that the Kaiser, who looked upon the navy as his personal creation, was jealous of his brother.
Van der Kriste, John. Kaiser Wihelm II: Germany's Last Kaiser (Bodmin: Sutton Publishing, 1999), 244p.
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