Wilhelm II (1859-1941). German kaiser (emperor) and king of Prussia. He was one of Queen Victoria’s grand children and had a deep conviction that he ruled by divine right. Crowned emperor in 1888, he forced the resignation of Bismarck, his father’s chief minister two years later. Although he strengthened Germany’: power in Europe by colonial expansion, his involvement in foreign policy generally did more harm than good. He has often been accused of being the prime instigator of World War I through his initial support for Austria-Hungary’s stand against Serbia. However, as the war progressed its control passed to the hands of his generals and his influence declined. He was forced to abdicate in 1918 and fled to the Netherlands, where he led the life of a country gentleman until his death.