Wilhelm II or William II was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was the eldest grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe, three notable contemporary relations being his first cousins King George V of the United Kingdom, founder of the House of Windsor, Marie of Romania, Queen consort of Romania and the Czarina Alix of Hesse, consort of his second cousin Tsar Nicholas II of the House of Romanov, the last ruler of the Russian Empire before the Russian Revolution of 1917 which deposed the monarchy.
Crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany on a bellicose "New Course" in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led to the First World War. Bombastic and impetuous, he sometimes made tactless pronouncements on sensitive topics without consulting his ministers, culminating in a disastrous Daily Telegraph interview that cost him most of his power in 1908. His top generals, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, dictated policy during the First World War with little regard for the civilian government. An ineffective war leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.