Frederick Arthur, the prince of Homburg. Exhausted from battle, he falls into a kind of half sleep during which he weaves a laurel wreath. The elector, Frederick William, takes the wreath and entwines it with his neck chain, an occurrence that later influences the prince to feel that destiny compels him into battle. In the ensuing battle with the Swedes, the prince, in ecstasy over his love for Princess Natalie, fails to hear the orders clearly and precipitously gives his own orders to advance. Later, after the battle has been won, the elector sentences the prince to die for disobeying orders. On the pleas of many, the prince’s life is spared, and he is hailed as the hero of the battle.
Frederick William, the elector of Brandenburg. When he returns victorious from battle, his spirit of military discipline forces him to sentence Frederick Arthur to die for ignoring battle orders, even though the prince’s forces were victorious. After hearing many pleas for the prince’s life, with charges and countercharges for placing the blame for the prince’s disobedience, the elector tears up the death warrant.
Princess Natalie of Orange
Princess Natalie of Orange, the niece of Frederick William. She is loved by Prince Frederick Arthur and pleads for his life when he is sentenced to death for failing to follow orders.
Count Hohenzollern, a member of the elector’s suite who pleads for Frederick Arthur’s life.
Field Marshal Dörfling
Field Marshal Dörfling, a military leader from Brandenburg.
Colonel Kottwitz, an officer in the regiment of Princess Natalie of Orange. Rebuked by Frederick William for lack of fervor when he hesitates to follow the impetuous prince in his advance before the battle signal is given, the colonel, afraid of appearing unpatriotic, joins in the charge.