Royal News: Thursday 14 December 2017

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Multiple Monarchies




United Kingdom

December 14: Today in Royal History

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Consort of the United Kingdom; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

December 14, 1136 – Death of King Harald IV of Norway in Bergen, Norway
Wikipedia: King Harald IV of Norway

December 14, 1542 – Death of King James V of Scotland at Falkland Palace in Fife, Scotland; buried at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland; his six-day-old daughter Mary becomes Queen of Scots
Unofficial Royalty: King James V of Scotland

December 14, 1784 – Birth of Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily, first wife of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, at the Caserta Palace in Caserta, Italy
Unofficial Royalty: Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily, Princess of Asturias

December 14, 1787 – Birth of Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este, third wife of Emperor Francis I of Austria, in Monza, Italy
Unofficial Royalty: Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este, Empress of Austria

December 14, 1788 – Death of King Carlos III of Spain at the Royal Alcazar of Madrid; buried at the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Spain
Wikipedia: King Carlos III of Spain

December 14, 1861 – Death of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England; buried at the Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore in Windsor, England
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Unofficial Royalty: December 14 – Queen Victoria’s Dire Day

December 14, 1873 – Death of Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria, wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, in Dresden (Germany); buried at Friedenskirche in Potsdam (Germany)
Wikipedia: Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria, Queen of Prussia

December 14, 1878 – Death of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, wife of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and by Rhine, daughter of Queen Victoria, at Neues Palais in Darmstadt, (Germany); buried at the Mausoleum of Rosenhöhe in Hessen-Darmstadt (Germany)
Alice died of diphtheria on the same date her father had died 17 years earlier.  Alice’s youngest daughter May had died of diphtheria a few weeks earlier.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

December 14, 1895 – Birth of King George VI of the United Kingdom at York Cottage at Sandringham in Norfolk, England
Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George was born on the anniversary of the death in 1861 of his great-grandfather Prince Albert and of his great-aunt Princess Alice in 1878.  Queen Victoria received the news with mixed feelings. Her son, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) wrote to his son, the new baby’s father: “Grandmama was rather distressed that this happy event should have taken place on a darkly sad anniversary for us, but I think – as well as most of us in the family here – that it will break the spell of this unlucky date.”
Unofficial Royalty: King George VI of the United Kingdom

December 14, 1901 – Birth of King Paul I of Greece in Athens, Greece
Like King George VI of the United Kingdom, Paul was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria born on the anniversary of Prince Albert’s death.
Unofficial Royalty: King Paul I of Greece

Royal News: Wednesday 13 December 2017

Doing some shopping on Please remember to use our Amazon link – found at the top of the right-hand column on every page of our site. It costs you nothing, and every purchase made through that link helps to support Unofficial Royalty so that we can continue to bring you the royal news and features every day. Thank you!



Multiple Monarchies




United Kingdom

Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, Crown Princess of Austria

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

The wife of the heir to the Austrian throne who apparently committed suicide with his mistress, Princess Stéphanie of Belgium was born on May 21, 1864 at the Royal Palace of Laeken in Belgium.  Stéphanie Clotilde Louise Herminie Marie Charlotte was the second of the three daughters and the third of the four children of Leopold II, King of the Belgians and Archduchess Marie-Henriette of Austria.

Stéphanie had three siblings:

The marriage of Stéphanie’s parents started out unhappy, remained unhappy, and the couple lived mostly separate lives. King Leopold had many mistresses and he made no real attempt to have a successful marriage. Queen Marie-Henriette was cold and inaccessible. Stéphanie and her siblings had a difficult childhood. Their mother showed no interest in the children and their father, who was only interested in his business in the Belgian Congo, did not spend time with his daughters. In 1869, when Stéphanie’s only brother Leopold died, King Leopold blamed Queen Marie-Henriette for their son’s death. Little Leopold had fallen into a pond, caught pneumonia and died. Hoping for a crown prince because only males could inherit the throne, Queen Marie-Henriette became pregnant again, but the long-awaited crown prince did not materialize as the child was a girl, Clémentine. Stéphanie’s parents completely separated after the birth of Clémentine.

Rudolf and Stéphanie  – official engagement photograph, 1881; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Stéphanie’s marriage was planned by the royal courts of Belgium and Austria. Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elisabeth of Bavaria, was under pressure from his parents to marry. Stéphanie who was still a teenager and Roman Catholic, met the criteria of the Emperor although the Empress did not think Stéphanie was good enough for her son because the Belgian monarchy had existed only since 1830. Nevertheless, during a trip to Belgium in March 1880 at the invitation of King Leopold II, Rudolf proposed to Stéphanie to the great joy of her parents. Stéphanie was sent to Vienna to learn the etiquette of the imperial court, but within the month, her ladies-in-waiting realized that she had not yet reached puberty. Stéphanie suffered great humiliation as the wedding was postponed and she was sent back to Belgium. Eventually, the couple married on May 10, 1881, at the Augustinerkirche, the parish church of the Imperial Court of the Habsburgs, a short walk from Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria. Stéphanie was not quite 17-years-old and Rudolf was 22-years-old.

Augustinerkirche in Vienna; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

Stéphanie and Rudolf had one child:

Stéphanie and her daughter Elisabeth Marie; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

The marriage was happy at first, but shortly after the birth of their daughter, the relationship between Stéphanie and Rudolf began to deteriorate. It is likely that Rudolf infected Stéphanie with a sexually transmitted disease, causing her to be infertile and unable to provide a male heir for the Austrian throne. Both Stéphanie and Rudolf began affairs with other people in the following years and intermittently spoke of divorce.

On January 30, 1889, at Mayerling, a hunting lodge in the Vienna Woods which Rudolf had purchased, Rudolf shot his 17-year-old mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera and then shot himself in an apparent suicide plot. Stéphanie was widowed at the age of 24. Rudolf wrote in his farewell letter to Stéphanie: Dear Stéphanie! You are free from my presence and plague; be happy in your way. Be good for the poor little one, who is the only thing left of me. The custody of Stéphanie’s daughter Elisabeth Marie was taken over by her grandfather, Emperor Franz Joseph. Elisabeth Marie remained close to her grandfather until he died in 1916.

Stéphanie in 1890; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

After the shock of Rudolf’s death, Stéphanie traveled and spent a great deal of time with her sisters Louise and Clémentine. She avoided Vienna as much as possible and when at court, she was unable to completely fulfill her duties. Stéphanie’s father and Emperor Franz Joseph tried in vain to marry Stéphanie to Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Emperor’s nephew and the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, to disrupt Franz Ferdinand’s relationship with Countess Sophie Chotek von Chotkow und Wognin. Because Sophie was not a member of a reigning or formerly reigning family, she could not marry a member of the Imperial Family. Franz Ferdinand refused to give Sophie up and eventually the Emperor allowed the morganatic marriage. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie in June 1914 was one of the causes of World War I.

Stéphanie and Count Elemér Lónyay, her second husband; Photo Credit –

After an unhappy first marriage, Stéphanie married for love. On March 22, 1900, she married Hungarian Count Elemér Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya et Vásáros-Namény. Following the marriage, Stéphanie’s daughter Elisabeth broke off all contact with her mother. Stéphanie lost her imperial and royal titles because the marriage was unequal and incurred the wrath of her father.

When her mother Queen Marie-Henriette died in 1902, Stéphanie traveled to Brussels to attend the funeral, but when she tried to say goodbye to the coffin, her father King Leopold II had her removed from the chapel. After the death of her father King Leopold II in 1909, Stéphanie and her sister Louise tried to claim their share of the billions their father had earned in the Belgian Congo, initially his private property, but they lost their case in court. In 1934, Stéphanie disinherited her daughter, who had divorced Prince Otto zu Windisch-Graetz and was living with (and later married) a Socialist, Leopold Petznek. Stéphanie published her memoirs “I was to be an Empress” in 1937.

Stéphanie in 1911; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Until the end of World War II, Stéphanie and her second husband lived peacefully at Oroszvar Castle now in present-day in Slovakia. After the arrival of the Soviet Army in 1945, the couple left their castle to take refuge in the Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma in Hungary, where on August 23, 1945, Stéphanie died at the age of 81. Her husband Count Elemér Lónyay died in Budapest, Hungary on July 20, 1946. The couple was buried together at the Abbey of Pannonhalma.

Stéphanie’s tomb; Photo Credit –

Wikipedia: Princess Stéphanie of Belgium

Works Cited

  • (2017). Stephanie von Belgien. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
  • (2017). Princess Stéphanie of Belgium. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
  • (2017). Stéphanie de Belgique. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].

December 13: Today in Royal History

King Henri IV of France, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

December 13, 1470 – Wedding of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of King Henry VI of England, and Anne Neville
Edward was killed in the Battle of Tewkesbury and Anne later married King Richard III of England.
Unofficial Royalty: Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
Unofficial Royalty: Anne Neville, Queen of England

December 13, 1521 – Death of King Manuel I of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal, buried at Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal
Wikipedia: King Manuel I of Portugal

December 13, 1533 – Birth of King Eric XIV of Sweden at Stockholm Castle in Stockholm, Sweden
Wikipedia: King Eric XIV of Sweden

December 13, 1553 – Birth of King Henri IV of France in Pau, Kingdom of Navarre
Unofficial Royalty: King Henri IV of France

December 13, 1621 – Death of Katarina Stenbock, third wife of King Gustav I of Sweden at Strömsholm Palace in Sweden; buried at Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden
Wikipedia: Katarina Stenbock, Queen of Sweden

December 13, 1826 – Death of Louise d’Aumont Mazarin, wife of Prince Honoré IV of Monaco, in Paris, France; buried at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco
Wikipedia: Louise d’Aumont Mazarin, Princess of Monaco

December 13, 1906 – Birth of Princess Marina of Greece, wife of Prince George, Duke of Kent, at Nicholas Palace in Athens, Greece
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Marina of Greece, Duchess of Kent

December 13, 2005 – Births of Princes Nicolas and Aymeric of Belgium, sons of Prince Laurent of Belgium, at Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium
Full names: Nicolas Casimir Marie and Aymeric Auguste Marie
Wikipedia: Prince Nicolas of Belgium
Wikipedia: Prince Aymeric of Belgium

Royal News: Tuesday 12 December 2017

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Royal News updates are done daily except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.




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Wedding of Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit –

Princess Anne married Timothy Laurence on December 12, 1992, at Crathie Church in Crathie, Scotland near Balmoral Castle.

Princess Anne’s Early Life

Embed from Getty Images

Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born at Clarence House in London, England on August 15, 1950. She was the second child of the four children and the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born a Prince of Greece and Denmark). Anne had one elder brother Charles and two younger brothers, Andrew and Edward.

At the time of Anne’s birth, her mother was Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and the sovereign was her grandfather, King George VI. The children of a daughter of a British sovereign would not usually have been accorded the style Royal Highness or the titles Prince/Princess as in the case of Anne’s own children. However, on October 22, 1948, Anne’s grandfather King George VI issued letters patent allowing the children of his eldest daughter and heiress presumptive, to use the style and title of a royal prince or princess. Therefore, Anne was Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Edinburgh at birth.

King George VI died on February 6, 1952, and his elder daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Upon her mother’s accession to the throne, Anne was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne. Anne was too young to attend her mother’s coronation, but she did make an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as can be seen in the above photo.

Catherine Peebles who was the governess of Prince Charles was also Anne’s governess and she was responsible for Anne’s early education. In 1959, a Girl Guides company, 1st Buckingham Palace Company was formed at the palace to allow Anne to socialize with other girls. Similar Girl Guide companies had been formed at Buckingham Palace for Anne’s mother and her aunt Princess Margaret. From 1963-1968, Anne attended Benenden School, an independent boarding school for girls in Kent, England.

From a young age, Princess Anne was passionate about riding and she soon became an excellent equestrienne. In 1971, Anne won the European Eventing Championship and was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. For more than five years Anne competed with the British eventing team, winning a silver medal in both individual and team disciplines in the 1975 European Eventing Championship. In the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, Anne competed as a member of the British equestrian team.

Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips, a fellow equestrian, on November 14, 1973, at Westminster Abbey in London, England. The couple had two children: Peter (born 1977) and Zara (born 1981). Anne and her first husband separated in 1989 and their divorce was finalized on April 23, 1992.

For more information, see Unofficial Royalty: Princess Anne, The Princess Royal

Timothy Laurence’s Early Life

Embed from Getty Images

Timothy James Hamilton Laurence was born on March 1, 1955, in Camberwell, South London, England, the son of Guy Laurence and Barbara Symonds. His father was a Commander in the Royal Navy and then a salesman for a marine engine manufacturer. Timothy grew up in Kent, England along with his older brother Jonathan.

Timothy began his education at The New Beacon Preparatory School in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. He then attended Sevenoaks School also in Sevenoaks, Kent, England, founded in 1432. Timothy attended University College, Durham on a Naval Scholarship where he was the editor of the student newspaper and captain of the cricket team. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in geography and then completed his naval training at the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth.

Timothy served on a number of Royal Navy ships as a navigating officer and then as a commander. From 1986-1989, he had his first staff appointment as Equerry to Queen Elizabeth II. An equerry must be a senior officer in the British Armed Services. Timothy also served in various posts in the Ministry of Defence. He retired from the Royal Navy in 2010 with the rank Vice Admiral.

For more information, see Unofficial Royalty: Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence

The Couple

Embed from Getty Images
Timothy Laurence smiling at Princess Anne at the 1989 Royal Ascot Races. Anne is in the white outfit. The little girl is Anne’s daughter Zara.

Timothy first met his future wife, Anne, Princess Royal when he was Equerry to Queen Elizabeth II. As the Queen’s Equerry for three years, Timothy learned the ways of the Royal Family. He often ate with the family, accompanied them on outings, cruised with them on the royal yacht, and made the formal introductions when important guests came to visit. Anne’s marriage to Mark Phillips was in trouble and Timothy caught her eye. However, it was not until 1989, when four of Timothy’s love letters were stolen from Anne’s briefcase at Buckingham Palace that the romance came to light. In the same year, Anne separated from her first husband, but the courtship with Timothy remained discreet. The couple was seldom seen together until Anne’s divorce became final in April 1992.

The couple’s intention to marry was announced by Buckingham Palace on December 5, 1992, just a week before the wedding. A Palace spokesperson said, “Due to the level of speculation about the matter, we decided to confirm that The Princess Royal and Commander Laurence are planning to marry, but I cannot say where and when.”

Timothy gave Anne a ring with a cabochon sapphire surrounded by three small diamonds on either side.

The Wedding

Photo Credit –

The small, private wedding was held on December 12, 1992, at the tiny Crathie Church in Crathie, Scotland where the British Royal Family worships when they are staying at Balmoral Castle. The couple chose to marry in Scotland as the Church of England did not at that time allow divorced persons whose former spouses were still living to remarry in its churches. The Church of Scotland does not consider marriage to be a sacrament and has no objection to the remarriage of divorced persons.

Princess Anne arrived at Crathie Church accompanied by her father Prince Philip and her 11-year-old daughter Zara who acted as her bridesmaid. Anne was dressed in a simple white suit with white blossoms in her hair and Timothy was wearing his Royal Navy uniform. Before about 30 guests, the bride and groom exchanged vows to stay together “until God shall separate us by death.” After the ceremony, the newlyweds emerged from the church to the cheers of about 500 well-wishers. Press and photographers were barred from the church but they lined the road from Balmoral Castle to Crathie Church.

Among the guests were Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Anne’s three brothers: Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, Anne’s two children: Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips. Two prominent members of the Royal Family were absent: The Princess of Wales, whose formal separation from her husband had been announced a few days earlier, and The Duchess of York who was separated from her husband Prince Andrew. The Princess of Wales sent her best wishes to Anne. Aides indicated she did not attend because she did not want Anne’s wedding to become a media circus.

After the wedding, the newlyweds and their guests had a short celebration at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral Estate.

Embed from Getty Images

Works Cited

  • latimes. (2017). Britain’s Princess Anne Remarries: Wedding: Scottish ceremony brings a tiny bit of joy to a year that saw more than one royal marriage fail.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].
  • (2017). In Quiet Scottish Ceremony, Anne Marries Naval Officer. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].
  • Unofficial Royalty. (2017). Anne, Princess Royal. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Aug. 2017].
  • Unofficial Royalty. (2017). Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].
  • UPI. (2017). Princess Anne to marry former royal attendant. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].

December 12: Today in Royal History

Marie Louise of Austria, second wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

December 12, 1212 – Death of Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, illegitimate son of King Henry II of England; died and buried at the Priory of Saint Michael in Grandmont, Normandy (France)
Wikipedia: Geoffrey, Archbishop of York

December 12, 1574 – Birth of Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I of England, at Skanderborg Castle in Skanderborg, Denmark
Unofficial Royalty: Anne of Denmark, Queen of Scots, Queen of England

December 12, 1791 – Birth of Marie Louise of Austria, second wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, at Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria
Full name: Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Franziska Therese Josepha Lucia
Unofficial Royalty: Marie Louise of Austria, Empress of France

December 12, 1843 – Death of King Willem I of the Netherlands in Berlin, Prussia (Germany); buried at Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, the Netherlands
Unofficial Royalty: King Willem I of the Netherlands

December 12, 1912 – Death of Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria in Munich, Bavaria (Germany); buried at the Theatine Church St. Cajetan in Munich, Bavaria (Germany)
Luitpold was the regent and the real ruler of Bavaria from 1886 to 1912, due to the mental incompetency of his nephews, Ludwig II and Otto.
Unofficial Royalty: Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria

December 12, 1992 – Wedding of Anne, Princess Royal and Timothy Laurence at Crathie Church in Ballater, Scotland
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence
Unofficial Royalty: Anne, Princess Royal
Unofficial Royalty: Timothy Laurence

Royal News: Monday, 11 December 2017

Doing some shopping on Please remember to use our Amazon link – found at the top of the right-hand column on every page of our site. It costs you nothing, and every purchase made through that link helps to support Unofficial Royalty so that we can continue to bring you the royal news and features every day. Thank you!
Royal News updates are done daily except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Multiple Monarchies
Daily Mail: Swedish royals put on a dazzling display for glittering Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm (as Norwegian Princess gets emotional during Nobel Peace reception in Oslo)

Getty Images: Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony 2017 (Part )
Getty Images: Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony 2017 (Part 2)

Daily Mail: Getting the royal treatment! Balinese princess Lindy Klim’s newborn baby Goldie enjoys her very first car ride… while partner Adam expertly completes his ‘dad pack’

Getty Images: Queen Sofia Attends ‘Juan Antonio Carrillo Salcedo To Human Rights’ Awards in Seville

Getty Images: The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony 2017 (Part 1)
Getty Images: The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony 2017 (Part 2)
Getty Images: Nobel Prize Banquet 2017, Stockholm (Part 1)
Getty Images: Nobel Prize Banquet 2017, Stockholm (Part 2)

Daily Mail: Palace releases new portrait of Britain’s Prince Philip
Daily Mail: Very different portraits of VERY different princes: Astonishingly realistic painting of the Duke at Windsor Castle is released as new image of Edward in a velvet jacket and tartan trousers emerges
Daily Mail: Fit for royalty! Owners of Petersham Nurseries open the doors to their home where everyone from Prince Charles and Camilla to Mick Jagger has attended their lavish soirées
Daily Mail: Diana statue plans revealed as William and Harry express thanks for `kind words´
Daily Mail: Harry’s flexible fiancee! Meghan Markle shows off a range of yoga positions after declaring that the discipline is ‘in her blood’
Daily Mail: Business as usual! Meghan Markle’s mother Doria, 61, is spotted picking up her dry cleaning as her daughter settles into Royal life
Daily Mail: Prince Harry ‘flies to Germany to enjoy private hunting party with his aristocratic friend dubbed The Boar Terminator’
Daily Mail: Home fit for a Princess! Luxurious three-bedroom property where Meghan Markle won Harry’s heart in Toronto goes on sale for £800,000 (but you’ll have to pass strict vetting to view it)
Daily Mail: ‘Staggeringly beautiful, savvy and intelligent’: How Meghan Markle raved about Ivanka Trump in interview for her now defunct lifestyle website before she met Prince Harry
Daily Mail: Wills and Harry in… The Empire Strikes Backside! Star Wars scene shot by the princes as Stormtroopers features one of them slapping star Benicio del Toro on the bottom
Express: Flexible Meghan Markle wows in HOT YOGA poses revealing regime to maintain gorgeous body
Express: Prince Harry ‘gives up smoking’ for Meghan Markle as they move in together
Express: Meghan Markle to attend Queen’s pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace
Getty Images: In Focus: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Retires From Public Engagements
Guardian: New portrait painting of Prince Philip highlights links with Denmark
Guardian: Prince Charles accession ‘could trigger debate on disestablishment’
Guardian: Prince George, a small boy yet also a symbol in the public conversation
Guardian: The afternoon I met Diana, Princess of Wales in the ladies’ loo at Le Caprice
Telegraph: Prince Philip goes back to his Danish roots in new portrait
Telegraph: From Lady Amelia Windsor to Princess Olympia of Greece, meet the new fashion royalty

Make sure to get the latest news updates as soon as they’re posted. Register today as a member of Unofficial Royalty. It’s quick and easy, and completely free! Click the ‘Register’ link in the menu to the right.

Princess Charlotte of Belgium, Empress Carlota of Mexico

by Susan Flantzer

Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1864; Credit – Wikipedia

Princess Charlotte of Belgium (Marie Charlotte Amélie Augustine Victoire Clémentine Léopoldine), who later became Empress of Mexico as the wife of the ill-fated Archduke Maximilian of Austria, Emperor of Mexico, was born at the Castle of Laeken in Belgium on June 7, 1840. She was the only daughter and the youngest of the four children of Leopold I, King of Belgians and his second wife Princess Louise-Marie of Orléans.

Princess Charlotte at age two by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1842; Credit – Wikipedia

Charlotte’s father was born Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and first married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of the future King George IV of the United Kingdom and the second in the line of succession to the British throne. Sadly, 21-year-old Princess Charlotte of Wales died in childbirth along with her son. Leopold named his daughter Charlotte after his first wife. In 1831, Leopold had become King of the Belgians after Belgium became independent from the Netherlands. King Leopold was the uncle of both Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, and therefore his daughter Charlotte, Victoria, and Albert were first cousins. Charlotte’s mother was the daughter of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, and Maria Amalia of the Two Sicilies.


Charlotte’s family; Credit – Wikipedia

Charlotte had three older brothers:

When Charlotte was ten-years-old, her mother died from tuberculosis and a close family friend, Countess Denise d’Hulst, became Charlotte’s governess. Charlotte received religious instruction from Father Victor-Auguste-Isidor Deschamps, brother of the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Cardinal-Bishop of Mechelen. Before her sixteenth birthday, Charlotte had two suitors for her hand in marriage: Prince George of Saxony, the future King of Saxony, and Queen Victoria’s candidate King Pedro V of Portugal. However in May 1856, Charlotte met Archduke Maximilian of Austria, a younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, and she fell in love with him. The couple married at the Royal Palace of Brussels in Belgium on July 27, 1857. Unfortunately, Charlotte and Maximilian had no children.

Charlotte and Maximilian during their first year of marriage; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Emperor Franz Joseph appointed his brother Maximilian to the position of Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, now part of Italy, but then part of the Austrian Empire. There the couple built Miramare Castle in Trieste.  In 1859, Emperor Franz Joseph, angered by his brother’s liberal policies, dismissed him as Viceroy. Shortly thereafter, Austria lost control of most of its Italian possessions and Maximilian and Charlotte then retired to Miramare Castle.

Miramare Castle; Photo Credit – By Valleo61 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In 1859, Mexico monarchists had approached Maximilian with a proposal to become Emperor of Mexico which Maximilian did not accept. After the French intervention in Mexico in 1861, Maximilian changed his mind. At the invitation of Napoleon III, after the French capture of Mexico City and a French-staged referendum that supposedly confirmed the will of the people, Maximilian agreed to accept the crown. On April 10, 1864, in the great salon of Miramare Castle, a Mexican delegation officially informed Maximilian of the results of the referendum, without telling him that the French army had intimidated the voters. Maximilian declared to the Mexican delegation that he accepted the crown from the hands of the Mexican nation and swore to ensure by all means the well-being, prosperity, independence, and integrity of the nation.

The Mexican Delegation appoints Maximilian of Austria Emperor of Mexico by Cesare-Dell’Acqua, 1864; Credit – Wikipedia

Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota, as Charlotte was now called, landed at Veracruz, Mexico on May 21, 1864, and received a cold reception from the townspeople. Veracruz was a liberal town and the liberal voters were opposed to having Maximilian being their Emperor. He had the backing of Mexican conservatives and Napoleon III, but from the very beginning, he found himself involved in serious difficulties. The liberal forces led by Benito Juárez, the former president who had been deposed by the French, refused to recognize his rule. There was continuous warfare between the French troops and the forces of Juárez who wanted a republic.

After the end of the American Civil War, the French withdrew their troops from Mexico under pressure from the United States. After that, Maximilian could not hold out against the popular Juárez as his request for help from Europe remained unanswered. Charlotte traveled to Europe to ask for help from Napoleon III and Pope Pius IX, but the only hope she got was a promise from the Pope to pray for her and her husband. Maximilian then wanted to leave Mexico, but changed his mind after receiving a letter from his mother, which prompted him to stay.

Maximilian and his last troops barricaded themselves in the city of Queretaro, which fell after a siege on May 14, 1867. Maximilian was condemned to death by a court of war and on June 19, 1867, he was executed by a firing squad. Before the shooting, Maximilian assured the soldiers that they were only doing their duty, gave them gold coins, and asked them to aim precisely and spare his face, so that his mother could identify his body.

Édouard Manet’s Execution of Emperor Maximilian (1868–1869); Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Eventually, Maximilian’s remains were returned to Austria, where seven months after his execution, on January 18, 1868, they were buried in the Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt) in the Capuchin Church in Vienna.

Tomb of Maximilian; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

After Charlotte’s unsuccessful visit to the Pope in 1866, her brother Philippe, Count of Flanders took her to Miramare Castle. There Charlotte began to have suspicions that everyone wanted to poison her and she was kept in the guest house at Miramare guarded by Austrian security agents. When Charlotte’s sister-in-law Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium arrived at Miramare Castle, she found Charlotte in a such a state that she decided to bring her back to Belgium. Charlotte was examined by doctors who declared her insane. Today, it is impossible to determine the exact nature of her mental illness.

Charlotte in mourning, 1867; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Charlotte spent the rest of her life at Bouchout Castle in Meise, Belgium where her brother King Leopold II oversaw her care. Over the years, her mental illness seemed to lessen and Charlotte developed a passion for collecting objects that had belonged to her husband. Charlotte died from pneumonia at Bouchout Castle on January 19, 1927 at the age of 86 and was buried in the Royal Crypt at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, the burial place of the Belgian Royal Family.

Charlotte’s grave marker; Photo Credit –

Wikipedia: Carlota of Mexico

Works Cited

  • (2017). Charlotte von Belgien. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
  • (2017). Carlota of Mexico. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
  • (2017). Maximilian I of Mexico. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
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