Royal News: Wednesday 4 March 2015

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Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, Marchioness of Milford Haven

photo: Wikipedia

Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, Marchioness of Milford Haven

The Marchioness of Milford Haven (as she was titled later in life) is often overlooked in history due to the accomplishments and fame of her family members – two sisters who became Russian royalty and were killed in 1918; a son who became one of the most decorated military heroes in British history; and a grandson who married the future Queen Elizabeth II. However, Victoria herself is quite fascinating in her own right.

Princess Alice holding the young Princess Victoria

Princess Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie of Hesse and by Rhine was born in the Tapestry Room at Windsor Castle on April 5, 1863, in the presence of her grandmother, and namesake, Queen Victoria. The two Victorias shared a very close bond that would last their entire lives. She was the eldest daughter of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine, and had six younger siblings:

  • Elisabeth “Ella” (1864-1918) -married Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, no issue
  • Irene (1866-1953) – married Prince Heinrich of Prussia, had issue
  • Ernst Ludwig “Ernie” (1868-1937) – married (1) Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, had issue; (2) Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, had issue
  • Friedrich “Frittie” (1870-1873) – hemophiliac, died at age 2-½ from a cerebral hemorrhage due to a fall
  • Alix (1872-1918) – married Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, had issue
  • Marie “May” (1874-1878) – died of diphtheria at age 4

She was christened in the arms of her grandmother, and namesake, at Windsor Castle on April 27th, by the Hessian court chaplain who had come to Windsor for the occasion.

Victoria was educated privately, as was typical for the times, and was quite intellectual. She and her sister, Ella being so close in age, were educated together and shared a room. They would remain extremely close until Ella’s tragic death in 1918. As a child, Victoria developed a love of books, becoming an avid reader, and at an early age began to keep to a record of all the books she read. This continued for the rest of her life.

Victoria, Irene, Alix and Ella in mourning for their mother. photo: Wikipedia

In November 1878, Victoria fell ill with diphtheria. The illness quickly spread to most of her family, with some of them dangerously sick. On the 16th of the month, her youngest sister, May, succumbed to the diphtheria and died. Less than a month later, her mother, who had nursed the family back to health, also fell victim and died on December 14, 1878. Alice’s death devastated the family, and Victoria found herself suddenly placed in the role of surrogate mother to her younger siblings. She also began to serve as companion to her father, and later became hostess for many of his official duties.

On April 30, 1884, in the chapel of the Old Palace in Darmstadt, Victoria married her father’s first cousin, Prince Louis of Battenberg, the son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine, and Princess Julia of Battenberg (born Countess Julia Hauke). Victoria’s father was personally against the marriage, primarily because he would be losing his eldest daughter and companion, and also because his cousin did not have the financial resources that most other royal husbands would be able to provide. Victoria, however, would have none of the reservations her father had, and being fiercely independent, made it clear that she intended to marry with or without her father’s blessing. In the end, Ludwig put his daughter’s happiness ahead of his own. The wedding, which had been postponed a few weeks due to the death of Victoria’s uncle, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, was attended by many of the extended family from Europe, including Queen Victoria, and The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Prussia (Victoria’s aunt). The couple honeymooned for a week at Heiligenberg before returning to England where Louis was serving in the Royal Navy. (Prince Louis had become a naturalized British subject in 1868, having joined the British Navy). They leased Sennicotts, a country home in Chichester, as their first home. They had four children:

photo: Wikipedia

Victoria’s life moved around quite a bit, with her husband taking up residence different places based on his Navy assignments. In 1896, at her husband’s urging, she brought on Cecil Nona Kerr as a lady-in-waiting. The two became close companions and friends, and Nona helped with the raising of the children. Nona stayed with Victoria until her own marriage in 1915, but the two remained lifelong friends.

Victoria (far right) with her siblings and their spouses at the wedding of her daughter Alice to Prince Andrew of Greece, 1903. photo: Wikipedia

In addition to moving around with her husband, Victoria was constantly on the move, visiting relatives and friends around the world. She made extended visits back to Darmstadt, visiting her brother Ernie, as well as visiting her sister Irene in Prussia, and her sisters Ella and Alix in Russia. It was on one of these Russian visits in 1914 that Victoria received an urgent telegram from her husband, instructing her to come home immediately, as war was breaking out in Europe. Accompanied by her daughter Louise, and Nona Kerr, Victoria quickly made arrangements to return home, and assuming Russia would be safe, left all of her jewels with Alix for safekeeping. Sadly, it would be the last time she would see either Ella or Alix, as both were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Victoria returned home to Kent House, on the grounds of Osborne House. The property had been inherited by her aunt, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, upon Queen Victoria’s death. And in 1913, Louise gave the home to Victoria and Louis. Having leased properties for their entire marriage, Kent House was the only home in the United Kingdom that the couple ever owned.

1914 saw more changes for the couple. Prince Louis, who had spent his entire life in the British Royal Navy, and had earned the rank of First Sea Lord, was forced to resign due to widespread anti-German sentiment. Despite protests from King George V, Louis resigned from the position in October 1914. While still remaining in the Royal Navy, he spent his remaining years in basic retirement at Kent House, having been assured a return to service following the war.

Due to anti-German sentiment, in 1917, King George V changed the name of the royal house to Windsor, and asked all of his relatives to relinquish their German titles. Giving up their Battenberg titles, the couple took on the surname Mountbatten, the anglicized version of Battenberg. Victoria was offered the option to retain her style of Princess Victoria (without the Hesse and by Rhine), but she declined this, stating that her husband’s title, whatever it was, was good enough for her. Louis was created Marquess of Milford Haven, having initially been offered a Dukedom, but declining as he felt unable to meet the financial requirements and lifestyle of the title. He was the only one of the relatives offered a dukedom, most likely in recognition of the King’s deep respect for both Louis and Victoria. Victoria, however, was disappointed with her cousin for bringing about the name change. To her, it was just another slap in the face to her husband, who had devoted his life to Britain. They would remain close, but she never fully forgave him.

 

The new Marquess and Marchioness continued to live a quiet retirement at Kent House. However, after the war, Louis was informed that he would not be recalled to service, and formally retired from the Royal Navy in January 1919. Soon, due to financial reasons, Victoria sold Kent House. They were also forced to sell Schloss Heiligenberg  (which Louis had inherited from his father), earning just a fraction of its value. Nona Kerr’s husband, Lt Col Crichton, offered them a home on the grounds of his estate, Fishponds. They settled there for the next several years.

Prince Louis, Marquess of Milford Haven died suddenly on September 11, 1921 in London. Victoria was devastated. Their marriage had truly been a love match which survived through the ages. Concerned for her financial position, King George offered Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, but she declined, having already paid up the lease on Fishponds until 1922. At that point, she did accept his offer of apartments in Kensington Palace. After extensive renovations overseen by Victoria and Queen Mary (the space was formerly the Chapel Royal until 1901), Victoria moved into Apartment 7 in the winter of 1922, and would remain there until her death.

By the 1930s, Victoria had become a surrogate mother to her grandson, Philip. Her daughter, Alice, had suffered several breakdowns, and spent many years institutionalized. Victoria, along with her two sons, took over the care of the young Philip, overseeing his education and social ventures. And she continued her travels, seemingly always off visiting some relative or another. She continued to spent time in Darmstadt with Ernie and his family, often accompanied by her sister Irene.

The late 30s would see more tragic losses in Victoria’s life. 1937 saw the death of her brother Ernie, followed weeks later by the tragic plane crash which killed Ernie’s widow, their elder son, his wife (also Victoria’s granddaughter), and their two young sons. The following year, her own son George died of bone cancer. The losses took a heavy toll on Victoria.

When World War II came, Victoria spent much of her time at Windsor Castle with the King and his family after Kensington Palace had been bombed. During this time, her grandson, Philip, made frequent visits which also allowed him to spend time with his future wife. So it was with great pleasure that Victoria welcomed the announcement of their engagement in 1947. Despite the loss of her titles, and the hardships that she had endured in life, she found great satisfaction in knowing that her descendants would one day occupy the throne of Britain.

 

The following year, Victoria served as godparent to her great-grandson, Prince Charles. Once a vibrant and woman, she appears quite tiny and frail in the photos. It would be one of the last official functions that she attended. Over the next two years, Victoria’s health began to diminish. She spent most of her time at Kensington Palace or at Broadlands, her son Louis’ home in Hampshire. By the summer of 1950, staying at Broadlands, Victoria had developed bronchitis, and suffered a heart attack in August. Sensing the end was near, she insisted on returning home to Kensington Palace. It was here, on the morning of September 24, 1950, that she passed away, surrounded by her three surviving children. Four days later, she was buried beside her husband in the grounds of St Mildred’s Church in Whippingham on the Isle of Wight.

St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham. photo: Wikipedia

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March 4: Today in Royal History

Prince Henry of Portugal (the Navigator); Photo Credit – Wikipedia

March 4, 1152 – Frederick I (Barbarossa) elected Holy Roman Emperor
Emperor Frederick Barbarossa has appeared in German stories for centuries. He supposedly awakens from his sleep in a mountain in central Germany every hundred years to see if Germany needs his help as a leader.
Wikipedia: Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor

March 4, 1188 – Birth of Blanche of Castile, wife of King Louis VIII of France, in Palencia, Spain
Wikipedia: Blanche of Castile

March 4, 1238 – Death of Joan of England, daughter of King John, at Havering-atte-Bower in Essex, England; buried at Tarrant Crawford Abbey in Dorset, England
Joan was the eldest daughter and third child of King John and Isabella of Angouleme.  She married King Alexander II of Scotland but they had no children.
Wikipedia: Joan of England

March 4, 1394 – Birth of Prince Henry the Navigator, sponsor of Portuguese explorers, in Oporto, Portugal
Prince Henry was a grandson of John of Gaunt, son of King Edward III of England.
Wikipedia: Henry the Navigator

March 4, 1821 – Death of Princess Elizabeth of Clarence, daughter of King William IV of the United Kingdom, at St. James Palace in London, England, buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Elizabeth was the daughter of William, Duke of Clarence (the future William IV) and Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.  She was born prematurely on December 10, 1820.  Elizabeth seemed to be in good health but she developed a fever and had convulsions on March 1, 1821.  The cause of death was a strangulated hernia which was untreatable in 1821.  During her short life, she was third in line to the throne and would have been queen instead of her cousin Victoria if she had lived.
Wikipedia: Elizabeth of Clarence

Royal News: Tuesday 3 March 2015

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Who Are The Battenbergs?

Who Are The Battenbergs?

The Battenbergs were a morganatic branch of the Grand Ducal family of Hesse and by Rhine. The name began when Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine, the youngest son of Grand Duke Ludwig II, entered into a morganatic marriage in 1851. Later, the name would be anglicized to Mountbatten, a name very familiar in the British Royal Family.

Ten years earlier, Prince Alexander had accompanied his younger sister, Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, to Russia where she was married to the Tsarevich (the future Tsar Alexander II). Prince Alexander remained there after the wedding, establishing himself in the Russian military and becoming a prominent member of the Imperial court. The Tsar was even considering Alexander as a possible spouse for one of his daughters. However, Alexander had other plans. In fact, he had fallen in love with one of his sister’s ladies-in-waiting, Countess Julia Hauke.

Julia Hauke was the orphaned daughter of Count Johann Mauritz Hauke, a lifelong soldier, and Deputy Minister of War of Congress of Poland. He and his wife were killed in an assassination attempt on Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, and their children became wards of the Tsar (Alexander I). She later became a lady-in-waiting to the new wife of the Tsarevich, the former Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, Alexander’s sister.

Alexander and Julia. Photo: Wikipedia

Alexander and Julia were in love, and despite being banned from marrying by the Tsar, the couple eloped and left the Russian court. Prince Alexander was stripped of his Russian honors and military appointments, basically leaving him as a deserter from the Russian Army. The couple managed to get away, and married on October 28, 1851 in Breslau, Silesia (now Wrocław in Poland).

By this time, Alexander’s brother was the reigning Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, Ludwig III. The Grand Duke allowed the couple to settle in Hesse. Although he recognized their marriage, it was considered morganatic, meaning that none of their children would be in the line of succession to the grand ducal throne. It also meant that neither Julia, nor their children, would receive any titles from Alexander. Instead, the Grand Duke granted Julia the hereditary title Countess of Battenberg, with the style Illustrious Highness. This is the title that would pass to the couple’s children. Later, in 1858, the Grand Duke would elevate Julia and her children to the title of Prince/Princess of Battenberg, with the style Serene Highness. The origin of the title came from the small town of Battenberg in northwestern Hesse, and it’s castle, Schloss Battenberg.

The couple had five children:

Prince Alexander served with the Austrian army, and held a command position in Hesse’s forces. Following Prussia’s defeat of Austria in 1866, he retired from the military and the family lived a quiet life. They split their time between the Alexander Palace (also known as the Battenberg Palace) in Darmstadt, and their country residence, Heiligenberg Castle in Seeheim-Jugenheim.

Because of the unequal marriage between Alexander and Julia, their children were often overlooked by other royal families when searching for prospective spouses. At the time, many monarchies would not even consider the idea of someone of a “lesser birth” marrying into their family. Fortunately, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom had no such misgivings.  Eventually, all five of the Battenberg children made successful marriages.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Princess Marie. photo: Wikipedia

Princess Marie of Battenberg

Marie married Count Gustav of Erbach-Schönberg in 1871. Gustav was later elevated to Prince by the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine in 1903. They had four children.

 

Prince Ludwig (“Louis”). photo: Wikipedia

Prince Louis of Battenberg

Louis married his first cousin once removed, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Louis served as First Sea Lord before stepping down at the onset of World War I due to anti-German sentiment. Louis and Victoria relinquished their German titles in 1917, and were created Marquess and Marchioness of Mountbatten – the anglicized version of Battenberg. They had four children:

  • Princess Alice of Battenberg, later Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (1885-1969); married Prince Andrew of Greece, five children including Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh
  • Princess Louise of Battenberg, later Lady Louise Mountbatten, later Queen of Sweden (1889-1965); married the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, no children
  • Prince George of Battenberg, later George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven (1892-1938); married Countess Nadejda Mikhailovna de Torby, two children
  • Prince Louis of Battenberg, later Lord Louis Mountbatten, later Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979); married Edwina Ashley, two children

 

Prince Alexander. photo: Wikipedia

Prince Alexander of Battenberg

Alexander (known as ‘Sandro’) was elected Prince of Bulgaria, and held the throne from 1879-1886. He later married Johanna Loisinger and took the style Count of Hartenau. The couple had two children who took on the surname ‘von Hartenau’.

 

Prince Heinrich (“Henry”). photo: Wikipedia

Prince Henry of Battenberg

Henry married Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria. The family lived in the Queen’s household where Beatrice served as her mother’s secretary and companion. Having convinced his mother-in-law to allow him to serve with British forces in the Ashanti War, Henry died of malaria on the journey. He was just 37 years old. In 1919, his wife and children relinquished their German titles and took on the surname Mountbatten. Henry and Beatrice had four children:

  • Prince Alexander of Battenberg, later Alexander Mountbatten, Marquess of Carisbrooke (1886-1960); married Irene Dennison, one daughter
  • Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, later Queen of Spain (1887-1969); married King Alfonso XIII of Spain, six children. Victoria Eugenie is the great-grandmother of the current King Felipe VI of Spain.
  • Prince Leopold of Battenberg, later Lord Leopold Mountbatten (1889-1922); unmarried.
  • Prince Maurice of Battenberg (1891-1914); killed in action in World War I

 

Prince Franz Joseph. photo: Wikipedia

Prince Franz Joseph of Battenberg

Franz Joseph married Princess Anna of Montenegro, the daughter of King Nicholas I of Montenegro and Milena Vukotić. He served as an officer in the Bulgarian army during his brother Alexander’s reign. He was a favorite of Queen Victoria, and met his wife at a dinner party held by The Queen while on holiday in Cimiez, Nice. The couple had no children.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In 1917, King George V of the United Kingdom asked all of his family, and extended family, to relinquish their German titles due to the war. For the Battenbergs, this affected Prince Louis, and the family of Prince Henry (who had died 21 years earlier).  They gave up their Battenberg titles, and took on the surname Mountbatten (the anglicized version of Battenberg).

Prince Louis became Louis Mountbatten, and was created Marquess of Milford Haven.  His elder son took the courtesy title of Earl Medina, and his younger son became Lord Louis Mountbatten.  His daughter Louise became Lady Louise Mountbatten.  His elder daughter, Alice, was already married and had become Princess Andrew of Greece.

Prince Henry’s two surviving sons both took the surname Mountbatten as well.  His eldest son, Prince Alexander became Alexander Mountbatten, and was created Marquess of Carisbrooke.  His younger son, Prince Leopold, became Lord Leopold Mountbatten.  (Henry’s daughter Victoria Eugenie was already Queen of Spain, and his youngest son, Maurice, had been killed in action before the title changes had occurred)

The Mountbatten name continues today through the descendants of Prince Louis. Although his daughter Alice never took on the Mountbatten name, her son did. Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, was born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark. He gave up his royal titles upon joining the British Royal Navy, and took on the name Philip Mountbatten. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth II issued an Order in Council declaring that her descendants, when needing a surname, would use Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Mountbatten name also continues through Prince Louis’ two sons, both as a surname and a title. His elder son, George, succeeded him as Marquess of Milford Haven, and that title continues today with Louis’ great-grandson, also named George Mountbatten. And Louis’ younger son, Lord Louis Mountbatten, later served as First Sea Lord like his father before him, and became the last Viceroy, and first Governor-General, of India. He was later created Earl Mountbatten of Burma, a title which has passed down to his elder daughter, Patricia Knatchbull.

The name ceased in Prince Henry descendants in the following generation.  Henry’s eldest son, Alexander, had just one daughter, Iris.  Upon her marriage in 1941, the surname ceased in this branch of the family.  Lord Leopold Mountbatten died unmarried, with no children.

March 3: Today in Royal History

Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

March 3, 1455 – Birth of King João II of Portugal at Alcáçovas Palace, Castle of São Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal
Wikipedia: João II of Portugal

March 3, 1515 – Wedding (2nd) of Mary Tudor (daughter of King Henry VII of England and sister of King Henry VIII of England) and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk in Paris, France
Wikipedia: Mary Tudor
Wikipedia: Charles Brandon

March 3, 1528 – Wedding (3rd) of Margaret Tudor (daughter of King Henry VII of England and sister of King Henry VIII of England), and Henry Stewart, Lord Methven
Wikipedia: Margaret Tudor
Wikipedia: Henry Stewart, Lord Methven

March 3, 1778 – Birth of Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, King of Hanover, at Hanover, Germany
Full name: Friederike Luise Caroline Sophie Alexandrine
Frederica and Ernest were first cousins.
Wikipedia: Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

March 3, 1861 – Tsar Alexander II of Russia abolishes serfdom
Wikipedia: Alexander II of Russia
Wikipedia: Emancipation Reform of 1861

March 3, 1862 – Death of Augusta Reuss of Köstritz, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Wikipedia: Augusta Reuss of Köstritz, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Royal News: Monday, 2 March 2015

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Norway
Getty Images: Swedish Royals Attend World Ski Championships in Falun – Day 3

Spain
Daily Mail: First ladies of fashion! Queen Letizia cuts an elegant figure as she welcomes the Colombian president’s wife to Spain
Getty Images: King Felipe VI of Spain Arrives in Barcelona
Getty Images: Spanish Royals Receive President Of Colombia

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Hello: Princess Estelle is star of the snow as she cheers on Sweden at ski championship

UK
BBC: Prince William meets Japan tsunami survivors who handwrote newspaper
BBC: Prince William arrives in China for royal tour
BBC: Prince William meets Chinese President Xi Jinping
Daily Mail: Setting aside rancour over Hong Kong, China welcomes Prince William
Daily Mail: Britain’s Prince William takes on diplomatic role in China
Daily Mail: The roving royal! The Duke of Cambridge touches down in Beijing for the next leg of his tour of Far East
Daily Mail: The roar-al seal of approval! Prince William puts his head in the jaws of a Chinese-style lion for good luck as he visits area hit by 2011 tsunami in northern Japan
Daily Mail: The World War II operation… to save Wallis’s swimsuit: Duchess of Windsor ordered consul to fetch costume at height of the war after she left it at luxury French villa
Daily Mail: Year of Shaun the Sheep: Prince William launches Chinese visit by painting patriotic cartoon character
Daily Mail: William visits Forbidden City
Daily Mail: Jeffrey Epstein ‘sex slave’ lived a lavish lifestyle and enjoyed her role as his ‘travelling masseuse’, former friends claim
Daily Mail: Prince William gets close look at tsunami disaster in Japan
Daily Mail: Prince William travels to tsunami-hit northeast Japan
Daily Mail: Police officer who guarded Kate Middleton is back on the beat after winning race discrimination claim after she was sacked last year
Daily Mail: Flat where Pre-Raphaelite artist Millais lived for 18 years hits the market for £5million – and your new neighbours will be Kate and Wills
Daily Mail: Warm Wills melts China’s ‘waxworks’
Express: Prince William meets friendly lion dancer in tsunami-stricken town
Express: Prince Andrew ‘frozen out by Charles over damaging sex allegations’ royal sources claim
Getty Images: The Duke Of Cambridge Visits Japan – Day 4
Getty Images: The Duke Of Cambridge Visits China – Day 1
Getty Images: The Duke Of Cambridge Visits China – Day 2
Guardian: Richard III buried among women who ate lots of sea fish, archaeologist finds
Guardian: Prince William meets China president Xi Jinping in boost for ties with Beijing
Hello: Prince William meets victims of Japanese tsunami and earthquake
Telegraph: Prince William arrives in China and invites President Xi for state visit
Telegraph: Prince William meets China’s president Xi Jinping as he invites Queen to visit Beijing
Telegraph: Prince William transformed into 3D virtual model in Japan
Telegraph: Naked man caught jumping out of Buckingham Palace window in internet hoax
Telegraph: The Duke of Cambridge visits tsunami devastated northeast of Japan
Telegraph: Prince William hears about the ‘hell’ of Japanese tsunami
Telegraph: Prince Andrew accuser was not a sex slave, former friends claim
Telegraph: Wallis Simpson ordered rescue mission for her swimsuit in WW2

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Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, the last reigning Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, a scholar, and a Field Marshal in the Prussian army, was the husband of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Charlotte of Prussia. He was born on April 1, 1851 in Meiningen, the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, now in Germany. Bernhard was the eldest son of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and his first wife Princess Charlotte Frederica of Prussia.  Bernhard’s parents had three other children:

On January 27, 1855, Bernhard’s younger brother died. Three months later his mother died of childbirth complications, along with her newborn son. Bernhard’s father was inconsolable, but in 1858 he married Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg in order to provide a mother to his remaining children. Feodora’s mother, Feodora of Leiningen, was an older half-sister to Queen Victoria, making the younger Feodora a niece of the Queen. Bernhard’s father and stepmother had three sons:

  • Prince Ernst Bernhard of Saxe-Meiningen (1859 – 1941), married morganatically to Katharina Jensen; had issue
  • Prince Frederick Johann of Saxe-Meiningen (1861 – 1914), married Countess Adelaide of Lippe-Biesterfeld; had issue; killed in action during World War I in Tarcienne, France; grandfather of Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen, wife of Otto von Habsburg, last Crown Prince of Austria
  • Prince Viktor of Saxe-Meiningen (14 May 1865 – 17 May 1865), died as an infant

Bernhard began serving as second lieutenant in the Saxe-Meiningen Infantry Regiment in 1867. In 1869, he enrolled at Heidelberg University to study classical philology, the study of literary texts and written records to establish their authenticity, their original form, and determine their meaning. His education was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War as he served as an aide with the 6th Thuringian Infantry Regiment Nr. 95 and the 6th Cavalry. After the war, he resumed his studies in Heidelberg and then studied in Leipzig. After graduating in 1873, Bernhard went for military training with the Fusilier Guards Regiment of the Prussian Army in Berlin.

Bernhard was interested in the Greek language and was the author and translator of several works. Between 1873 and 1894, he made numerous study trips to Greece and Asia Minor, where he visited archaeological sites and had worked with well known archaeologists. For his work in archaeology, the University of Athens gave Bernard the title “Philhellene,” lover of Greece and Greek culture, in 1889 and in 1912, the University of Breslau awarded him an honorary doctorate.

On February 18, 1878 in Potsdam, Bernhard married, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, the eldest daughter of Friedrich III, German Emperor and King of Prussia and Victoria, Princess Royal, and the sister of Wilhelm II, German Emperor. Bernhard and Charlotte had one child, Feodora (1879-1945), who married Prince Henry XXX Reuss-Köstritz in 1898.

Bernhard and Charlotte in 1877; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Bernhard was transferred to the General Staff of the Prussian Army in 1882 and moved to Charlotte’s apartments at Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. In 1889, he was appointed Major General and then Lieutenant General in 1891. The German Archaeological Institute appointed him an honorary member in 1892. In December of 1893, Bernhard and Charlotte took up permanent residence at the Große Palais (Great Palace) in Meiningen. (translation by Google Translator) This was due to the fact that Bernhard’s father Georg suffered from acute deafness and had retired from active life.

Bernhard’s rank and responsibility in the Prussian Army kept increasing. He became General of the Infantry and from 1896-1903 was Commanding General of the VI Army Corps in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) . On September 15, 1903, he was appointed Inspector General of the II Army Inspectorate and was stationed in Meiningen. With his wife Charlotte, he undertook numerous road trips throughout the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen and the German Empire. In 1909, Bernhard received the rank of Field Marshal. Bernhard ended his military career 1912 and moved back to permanently to Meiningen.

Bernhard’s father died on June 25, 1914, just three days before the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, and Bernard became the reigning Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. Bernhard’s conservative Prussian views made him unpopular in the liberal Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. After the start of World War I, Bernhard transferred his governing duties to his wife Charlotte and went to the front to visit Meiningen troops and military installations.

Bernhard with some other royalty circa 1913-1915; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

On November 9, 1918, his brother-in-law Wilhelm II abdicated as German Emperor and King of Prussia in the wake of the November Revolution.  Bernhard abdicated the next day due to pressure from the Meininger Workers and Soldiers Council. His half-brother Ernst waived his succession rights on November 12, 1918, officially ending the monarchy of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen.

On October 1, 1919, Bernhard’s wife Charlotte died at the age of 59 while taking a cure in Baden-Baden. Bernhard lived his remaining years at Schloss Altenstein in Bad Liebenstein, now in Germany. After his death on January 16, 1928 at the age of 76, Bernhard’s coffin lay in state at the Große Palais (Great Palace) in Meiningen. On January 20, 1928, with great interest from the local population, a funeral procession brought his coffin to the train station for the journey to Schloss Altenstein, where he was buried on January 21, 1928 next to his wife Charlotte in the castle park.

Burial site of Bernhard and his wife Charlotte; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen

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March 2: Today in Royal History

Tsar Nicholas I of Russia; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

March 2, 1316 – Birth of King Robert II of Scotland at Paisley Abbey in Renfrewshire, Scotland
Robert II was the first Stuart monarch of Scotland.
Wikipedia: Robert II of Scotland

March 2, 1341 – Death of Martha of Denmark, Queen of Sweden
Wikipedia: Martha of Denmark, Queen of Sweden

March 2, 1619 – Death of Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I of England, at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond, England; buried at Westminster Abbey
Wikipedia: Anne of Denmark

March 2, 1835 – Death of Franz I, Emperor of Austria in Vienna, Austria; buried at the Imperial Crypt in Vienna, Austria
Wikipedia: Franz I, Emperor of Austria

March 2, 1855 – Death of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia in St. Petersburg, Russia; buried at the Fortress of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, Russia
Wikipedia: Nicholas I of Russia

March 2, 1916 – Death of Elisabeth of Wied, Queen Consort to King Carol I of Romania
Wikipedia: Elisabeth of Wied

March 2, 1936 – Death of Victoria Melita of Edinburgh, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, at Amorbach, Germany; first buried at the Ducal Mausoleum in Coburg, Germany, her remains were transferred to the Grand Ducal Mausoleum at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1995
Victoria Melita was the daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia.  She married his first cousin Grand Duke Ernest Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt but they divorced after seven years of marriage.  After the divorce, she married her Romanov first cousin Grand Duke Kryill Vladimirovich of Russia
Wikipedia: Victoria Melita of Edinburgh

March 2, 1939 – Birth of Princess Takako of Japan at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan
Princess Takako is the youngest sister of Emperor Akihito. She lost her rank and imperial title when she married Mr. Hisanaga Shimazu.  She is now known as Mrs. Hisanaga Shimazu.
Wikipedia: Takaki Shimazu

Royal News: Sunday 1 March 2015

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