Adalbert Ferdinand Berengar Viktor was born in the Marmorpalais, Potsdam, on 14 July 1884 and was the third son of Wilhelm II, German Emperor, and Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.
Adalbert’s first name was chosen in honour Heinrich Wilhelm Adalbert of Prussia who was the founder of the Prussian Navy and young Adalbert was destined to follow in his footsteps. Adalbert was said to have been the most reserved of Wilhelm’s sons but he was closest to Wilhelm and Eitel Friedrich who were the nearest to him in age. Adalbert entered the Navy in 1894 where he learned his trade and travelled to the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and various German colonies.
Adalbert was soon stationed at Kiel, the principal naval port of the Prussian Empire, however he undertook trips aboard as a representative of his father which included a visit to the United States in 1912. Wilhelm wanted his son to eventually become Commander-in-Chief of High Seas Fleet of the Imperial German Navy, a post once held by his great-uncle, Heinrich of Prussia, however fate was against him.
Adalbert was an intelligent man who was far more respected than his brothers in political circles and he became very close to his younger sister, Viktoria, who was the sole girl in a family of boys. Adalbert was heavily involved in the marriage negotiations between Viktoria and Ernst August of Hanover and he was godfather to their first child, Ernst August IV. After the First World War, Adalbert cut all ties with his family apart from Viktoria.
Adalbert’s name was linked with many of Europe’s eligible princesses but his father was in no hurry to arrange a marriage for him as he wanted his son to concentrate on his naval career. However, Adalbert fell in love with a young woman but his parents denied him permission to marry much to Adalbert’s disappointment. Rumours soon began to circulate Adalbert was about to make a match with Patricia of Connaught, the daughter of Arthur, Duke of Connaught, but it came to nothing. In the summer of 1912, Adalbert accompanied his father on an official visit to Russia and rumours soon began to circulate of an impending engagement to Olga Nikolaevna, the eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. However, the marriage was never going to be suitable as the grand duchess was only seventeen and was a member of the Orthodox faith which Kaiser Wilhelm found abhorrent.
In 1910, Adalbert met Adélaïde de Saxe-Meiningen, daughter of Frederick John of Saxe-Meiningen and Adelaide of Lippe-Biesterfeld. The princess had an illness, alleged to have been porphyria, which meant she spent a lot of time in hospitals in Hanover and had become acquainted with Adalbert’s mother. Adalbert began to correspond with Adélaïde and they eventually married on 23 August 1914 just before the outbreak of the First World War. A few weeks after the marriage, Adalbert was rumoured to have been killed in battle in Brussels, however it proved to be false. During the war, Adalbert served as a Lieutenant on the SMS Kaiser (1914); Lieutenant Commander of SMS Danzig (1917); and Commander of SMS Dresden (1918).
After the war ended, Adalbert returned from the Navy and settled in Bad Homburg, a spa town, however his wife’s poor health still required frequent trips to Switzerland. In 1938, Adalbert and Adélaïde decided to move to Switzerland on a permanent basis and they settled in Lake Geneva where they lived a quiet life as Count and Countess Lingen. Adalbert died in La Tour de Peilz, Switzerland, on 22 September 1948.