Borkum – A royal connection?

Two weeks ago I took a two-day vacation. Due to Covid I didn’t dare to go away that far yet. But I managed to book a night in a hotel on the Island of Borkum in Germany. It turned out later on that the room had become vacant because of the pandemic. Lucky me, although it was somewhat expensive according to my standards. I spent two lovely days at Borkum. On the first day I went on a cycling tour. It became so windy in the evening and the next day, that I decided to take part in a walk on the beach, and afterwards had a look around, on foot, in the “town”. I travelled back home towards the evening. A lovely island, but after two days I think I had seen already a lot. I especially loved the beach, that was really on walking distance, and the area outside the busy city center.

I was quite intrigued when entering my hotel and finding this sign outside the breakfast room: “Salon Prinzessin Eitel Friedrich”. The lady at the reception didn’t know the story, but online I figured out the hotel was built in 1907 and named Hotel „Prinzessin Eitel Friedrich“. 1981 it was taken over by the hotel chain Upstalsboom. They unfortunately changed the name of the hotel.

The story told online in several places is that the Princess née Duchess Sophie Charlotte of Oldenburg, who in 1906 married (and divorced 20 years later) Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, a son of Emperor Wilhelm II, for many years travelled to Borkum and stayed in this hotel. Unfortunately I was told by another receptionist the next day that that story is not true. It was just fashionable to name a place after a royal at the time. Nearby is also a hotel called Hohenzollern (built 1898).

I also discovered some royal medals and memorabilia at the Heimatmuseum. And I can tell you , there was at least one royal visit to the island. An information sheet proudly told me that His Majesty King Georg V of Hannover visited the island in the year 1857. However I haven’t found any further information. The island between 1464 and 1744 was ruled by the Counts and Princess of East Frisia (House Cirksena), then became part of the Kingdom of Prussia and between 1815 and 1866 was part of the Kingdom of Hannover. Afterwards it became part of Prussia (Germany) again. I haven’t found information of any other royal visit to the island. In 1902, Borkum was given the status of a sea fortress by Kaiser Wilhelm II because of its exposed location.

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