The pivotal foreign policy problem of the early years of Ludwig II’s reign was the process of German unification, i.e. the establishment of a German nation state. Prussia pushed for a solution that amounted to a federal state under its leadership excluding Austria. Ludwig, on the other hand, wanted to preserve Bavarian sovereignty and prevent a rift between Prussia and Austria, but was ultimately powerless in the face of developments: in 1871 the German Empire was formed and the Prussian King Wilhelm was proclaimed German Emperor. For Ludwig II this was a traumatic experience which accelerated his withdrawal from the public eye.