by Scott Mehl
Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland was the last Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, as the wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV. Princess Alexandra Luise Marie Olga Elisabeth Therese Vera was born at Schloss Ort in Gmunden, Austria on September 29, 1882, the daughter of Ernst August, Crown Prince of Hanover and Princess Thyra of Denmark.
Alexandra had five siblings:
- Princess Marie Luise (1879) – married Prince Maximilian of Baden, had issue
- Prince Georg Wilhelm (1880) – unmarried
- Princess Olga (1884) – unmarried
- Prince Christian (1885) – unmarried
- Prince Ernst August (III), Duke of Brunswick (1887) – married Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia, had issue
On July 7, 1904 at Schloss Cumberland (link in German) in Gmunden, Alexandra married Friedrich Franz IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They went on to have five children:
- Hereditary Grand Duke Friedrich Franz (1910) – married Karin Elisabeth von Schaper, no issue
- Duke Christian Ludwig (1912) – married Princess Barbara of Prussia, had issue
- Duchess Olga (1916) – died in infancy
- Duchess Thyra (1919) – unmarried
- Duchess Anastasia (1922) – married Prince Friedrich Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, had issue
Because of the death of her daughter Olga at just six weeks old, Grand Duchess Alexandra worked to improve medical care for children in the Grand Duchy. She established the Olga Foundation, which raised money for education and training for nurses and midwives.
Following her husband’s abdication on November 14, 1918, the family were forced to leave the Grand Duchy. They traveled to Denmark at the invitation of Queen Alexandrine, and stayed for a year at Sorgenfri Palace. The following year, they were permitted to return to Mecklenburg and recovered several of their properties. For the next two years, they lived at the Gelbensande hunting lodge (link in German) before returning to Ludwigslust Palace in 1921. They also began spending their summers at the Alexandrinen Cottage (link in German) in Heiligendamm.
With the Red Army approaching Mecklenburg, the family was again forced to flee in 1945. Intending to return to Denmark, they traveled to Glücksburg Castle, the home of their youngest daughter. While there, the Grand Duke died. The Dowager Grand Duchess Alexandra also died there, on August 30, 1963, having survived her husband by nearly 18 years. She is buried beside him in the New Cemetery in Glücksburg.