Along with her three sister ships, König, Grosser Kurfürst and Markgraf, Kronprinz took part in most of the fleet actions during the war, including the Battle of Jutland on 31 May and 1 June 1916. Although near the front of the German line, she emerged from the battle unscathed. She was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS J1 on 5 November 1916 during an operation off the Danish coast. Following repairs, she participated in Operation Albion, an amphibious assault in the Baltic, in October 1917. During the operation Kronprinz engaged the Tsesarevich and forced her to retreat.
After Germany's defeat in the war and the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, Kronprinz and most of the capital ships of the High Seas Fleet were interned by the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow. The ships were disarmed and reduced to skeleton crews while the Allied powers negotiated the final version of the Treaty of Versailles. On 21 June 1919, days before the treaty was signed, the commander of the interned fleet, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, ordered the fleet to be scuttled to ensure that the British would not be able to seize the ships. Unlike most of the other scuttled ships, Kronprinz was never raised for scrapping; the wreck is still on the bottom of the harbour.
Kronprinz was ordered under the provisional name Ersatz Brandenburg and built at the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel under construction number 182. Her keel was laid in May 1912 and she was launched on 21 February 1914. The ship was scheduled to be completed in early 1915, but work was expedited after the outbreak of World War I in mid-1914. Fitting-out work was completed by 8 November 1914, the day she was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet. She had cost the Imperial German Government 45 million Goldmarks.
Kronprinz displaced 25,796 t (25,389 long tons) as built and 28,600 t (28,100 long tons) fully loaded, with a length of 175.4 m (575 ft 6 in), a beam of 19.5 m (64 ft 0 in) and a draft of 9.19 m (30 ft 2 in). She was powered by three Parsons steam turbines and three oil-fired and twelve coal-fired boilers, which developed a total of 45,570 shaft horsepower (33,980 kW) and yielded a maximum speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).
She was armed with ten 30.5 cm (12.0 in) SK L/50 guns arranged in five twin gun turrets: two superfiring turrets each fore and aft and one turret amidships between the two funnels. Her secondary armament consisted of fourteen 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 quick-firing guns, six 8.8 cm (3.5 in) SK L/45 quick-firing guns and five 50 cm (20 in) underwater torpedo tubes, one in the bow and two on each beam.