Category Archives: German Royals

Wedding of Queen Victoria of The United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

by Susan Flantzer

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha were married at the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace in London, England on February 10, 1840.

Queen Victoria’s Family

On November 6, 1817, a great tragedy struck the British Royal Family. Twenty-one year old Princess Charlotte, the only child of George, Prince of Wales, died after delivering a stillborn son. At the time of her death, Charlotte, who was second in line to the throne, was the only legitimate grandchild of King George III, despite the fact that thirteen of his fifteen children were still alive. Her death left no legitimate heir in the second generation, and prompted the aging sons of George III to begin a frantic search for brides to provide for the succession.

George III’s eldest son (Charlotte’s father) and his second son Frederick, Duke of York, were in loveless marriages, and their wives, both in their late forties, were not expected to produce heirs. William, Duke of Clarence, age 53, married 26 year old Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. 50 year old Edward, Duke of Kent, married 32 year old widow Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld. Victoria was the sister of Leopold, Princess Charlotte’s widower. Twenty-one year old Augusta of Hesse-Cassel married 44 year old Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. It was then the scramble to produce an heir began.

Within a short time, the three new duchesses, along with Frederica, wife of Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, became pregnant. Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a son on March 26, 1819 and Adelaide, Duchess of Clarence had a daughter the following day. Victoria, Duchess of Kent produced a daughter on May 24, 1819 and three days later Frederica, Duchess of Cumberland had a boy. Adelaide’s daughter would have been the heir but she died in infancy. The child of the next Royal Duke in seniority stood to inherit the throne. This was Alexandrina Victoria, daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent and Victoria. The baby was fifth in line to the throne after her uncles George, Frederick and William, and her father Edward.

The baby’s father, Edward, died on January 23, 1820, eight months after her birth. Six days later, King George III’s death brought his eldest son to the throne as George IV. Frederick, Duke of York, died in 1827, bringing the young princess a step closer to the throne. George IV died in 1830 and his brother William (IV) succeeded him. During William’s reign, little Drina, as she was called, was the heiress presumptive. There was always the possibility that King William IV and Queen Adelaide would still produce an heir, but it was not to be. William died on June 20, 1837 and left the throne to his 18 year old niece, who is known to history as Queen Victoria.

Sources:
“Brewer’s British Royalty” by David Williamson
“Her Little Majesty” by Carolly Erickson
“Royal Weddings” by Dulcie M. Ashdown

Prince Albert’s Family

Prince Francis Albert Charles Augustus Emanuel of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born at Rosenau Castle near Coburg, Germany on August 26, 1819. Albert was the second son of the reigning Duke Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert’s parents had marital problems shortly after his birth. Ernest was a notorious womanizer and Louise also sought affection elsewhere. The couple separated in 1824 and divorced in 1826. After Louise’s early death from cancer in 1831, Ernest married his niece, Marie of Württemberg. Albert grew up at Rosenau Castle with Ernest, his older brother. The two brothers were complete opposites. Ernest grew up to be a womanizer like his father. Albert was serious minded with a great love for the arts and sciences.

The Coburg family had strong ties to the British Royal Family. Albert and Ernest’s uncle Leopold had married Princess Charlotte of Wales, who died tragically in childbirth. Victoria, their aunt, married George III’s son, Edward, Duke of Kent, and was the mother of Princess Victoria. The Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, grandmother of Victoria and Albert, suggested the possibility of marriage between them in a letter to her daughter Victoria, Duchess of Kent, in 1821, when the children were but two years old. Later, the idea was taken up by their uncle Leopold, who became the first King of the Belgians in 1831.

First cousins Victoria and Albert met for the first time in 1836 when Albert and Ernest visited England. Seventeen year old Victoria seemed instantly infatuated with Albert. She wrote to her uncle Leopold, “How delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality that could be desired to make me perfectly happy.”

In October of 1839, Albert and Ernest again visited England, staying at Windsor Castle with Victoria, who was now Queen. On October 15, 1839, the 20 year old monarch summoned her cousin Albert and proposed to him. Albert accepted, but wrote to his stepmother, “My future position will have its dark sides, and the sky will not always be blue and unclouded.”

Sources:
“Brewer’s British Royalty” by David Williamson
“Her Little Majesty” by Carolly Erickson
“Uncrowned King” by Stanley Weintraub
“Royal Weddings” by Dulcie M. Ashdown

Engagement and Ceremony

Queen Victoria proposed to her cousin Albert on October 15, 1839. He accepted, and the couple was married in the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace on February 10, 1840 at 1 p.m. Traditionally, royal weddings took place at night, but this wedding was held during the day so the Queen’s subjects could see the couple as they traveled down The Mall from Buckingham Palace.

Victoria’s Wedding Dress

Bridesmaid’s Dress

Albert wore the uniform of a British field marshal, over which hung the collar of the Order of the Garter, an honor which had recently been bestowed on him by Victoria. Her wedding dress (which is now in the London Museum) was of rich white satin, trimmed with orange flower blossoms. On her head she wore a wreath of the same flowers, over which was a veil of Honiton lace. She wore her Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and Albert’s wedding present of a sapphire brooch. The twelve bridesmaids, all daughters of peers of the realm, were simply dressed in tulle and white roses. Each bridesmaid received a gold brooch in the shape of an eagle covered in turquoise, rubies, and pearls with a diamond beak, designed by Victoria herself.

The simple ceremony took place at the altar and was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of London. There had been no rehearsal and the chapel was really too small for the large wedding party. The bridesmaids stepped on each other’s dresses and kicked each other’s heels. At times it appeared Albert was not quite sure what he should be doing, and he seemed rather awkward and embarrassed.

The Wedding Cake

Following the ceremony, the couple returned to Buckingham Palace for a wedding breakfast. Hundreds of wedding cakes were distributed, mainly to members of the royal family. The main wedding cake was more than nine feet in diameter, but only sixteen inches high. This remarkable piece of Victoriana (albeit a perishable one), consisted of Britannia gazing at the royal couple while they pledged their vows at the top of the cake. At their feet were two turtledoves and a dog. The letters “V & A” were visible as well as Cupid writing the date of the wedding on his tablet.

After the breakfast the couple changed into their traveling outfits. Prince Albert wore a dark suit, while Victoria was attired in a white satin cloak trimmed with swans down, and a textured white velvet bonnet with plumes of feathers and a deep fall of Brussels point lace. They set off for Windsor Castle, where they spent their two day honeymoon.

Sources:
“Victoria & Albert: A Family Life at Osborne House” by The Duchess of York
“Prince Albert: A Biography” by Robert Rhodes James
“Queen Victoria” by Cecil Woodham-Smith

The Honeymoon

View from Coopers Hill, with Runnemede and Windsor Castle,
engraved by E. Radclyffe after a picture by Thomas Allom,
published 1842

Newlyweds Victoria and Albert set off in a coach for Windsor Castle for a short honeymoon. There were so many well-wishers along the route that their arrival at Windsor was delayed. Victoria had a “sick headache” and had to lie down on a sofa. Despite this, she described her wedding night as “bliss beyond belief” and confided to her diary, “we did not sleep much.”

The Duchess of Bedford, one of Victoria’s Ladies of the Bedchamber, observed that Albert seemed to be “not a bit” in love with Victoria and gave the impression of “not being happy.” He spent the afternoon lying down recovering from the previous day’s and night’s activities. After a very short stay at Windsor Castle, the couple returned to London where Victoria resumed her duties.

Sources:
“Brewer’s British Royalty” by David Williamson
“Her Little Majesty” by Carolly Erickson
“Uncrowned King” by Stanley Weintraub

The Couple

1854: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Shortly after his marriage, Albert wrote to a friend, “I am only the husband and not the master in my house.” Albert was expected to be ready at a moment’s notice to go to his new wife to read aloud, play the piano, be petted, or blot her signature. Victoria was delighted to parade Albert before her court and, as she confided to her diary, to have him put her stockings on her feet.

It was during Victoria’s early pregnancies that Albert showed a talent for diplomatic dealings with her ministers and an ability to understand complex government documents. Soon Albert was dealing with more and more of Victoria’s governmental duties and they worked with their desks side by side. As Albert’s influence over Victoria grew, she began to defer to him on every issue.

Victoria was quite temperamental and had a strong sexuality which Albert apparently met, as evidenced by the birth of nine children. Albert was somewhat prudish and his high moral standards would never allow extramarital affairs. He found marriage to Victoria a full-time job which exhausted him physically and mentally. Victoria rewarded Albert by making him Prince Consort in 1857.

All of Victoria and Albert’s nine children grew to adulthood. However, their youngest son, Leopold, was afflicted with the genetic blood clotting disease hemophilia. See Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia.

Victoria and Albert’s family consisted of Victoria, Princess Royal (1840), Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841), Alice (1843), Alfred (1844), Helena (1846), Louise (1848), Arthur (1850), Leopold (1853) and Beatrice (1857). Their nine children and 39 grandchildren married into other European royal families giving Victoria the additional title of “Grandmother of Europe.” The thrones of the United Kingdom, Germany/Prussia, Russia, Norway, Romania, Greece, and Spain have all been occupied by grandchildren of Victoria and Albert. Through these marriages, Victoria and Albert’s daughters and granddaughters transmitted the genetic disease hemophilia into other royal families. Victoria and Albert’s descendants currently sit upon the thrones of Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Victoria and Albert, whose primary residences were Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, felt they needed residences of their very own. Albert’s architectural talents are evident in the seaside Italianate palace Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and in Balmoral, a castle in the Scottish highlands. Osborne and Balmoral became Victoria’s favorite homes.

In December 1861, Albert, exhausted from dealing with a foreign policy issue and his eldest son’s affair with an actress, fell ill with a fever. Delirious and suffering from pain and chills, Albert died at Windsor Castle on December 14, 1861, at the age of 42. The cause of his death was diagnosed as typhoid fever, but modern medical experts speculate that he died from stomach cancer or some other debilitating disease.

Left a widow at 42, Victoria never fully recovered from her beloved Albert’s death. For the rest of her life, she wore only clothes of mourning black with a white widow’s cap on her head. Her handkerchiefs and stationery displayed wide black edges. In each of her homes, Albert’s room was kept as if he were still alive. Servants opened and closed the curtains, changed linens and laid out Albert’s clothes. Victoria slept with his nightshirt for years. Most notable was her almost complete withdrawal from public life for the rest of her reign. She did find some comfort in her ever-growing family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Victoria survived Albert by 39 years, dying at her beloved Osborne House on January 22, 1901. She is buried beside Albert in the mausoleum which Albert designed at Frogmore near Windsor Castle.

Sources:
“Brewer’s British Royalty” by David Williamson
“Her Little Majesty” by Carolly Erickson
“Uncrowned King” by Stanley Weintraub
“Royal Weddings” by Dulcie M. Ashdown

Children of Victoria and Albert

Carte-de-visite photomontage, circa 1861 by John Mayall

Unofficial Royalty: Queen Victoria’s Children and Grandchildren

  • Victoria, The Princess Royal: (1840-1901) married the future German Kaiser Frederick III, January 25, 1858 at the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace
  • Edward VII: (1841-1910) married Alexandra of Denmark, March 10, 1863 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
  • Alice: (1843-1878) married Louis, the future Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, July 1, 1862 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight
  • Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh: (1844-1900) married, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia, daughter of Tsar Alexander II, January 23, 1874 at the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
  • Helena: (1846-1923) married July 5, 1866, Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, July 5, 1866 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle
  • Louise: (1848-1939) married John Campbell, the future Duke of Argyll, March 21, 1871 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
  • Arthur, Duke of Connaught: (1850-1942) married Louise of Prussia, March 13, 1879 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
  • Leopold, Duke of Albany: (1853-1884) married Helen of Waldeck, April 27, 1882 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
  • Beatrice: (1857-1944) married Henry of Battenberg, July 23, 1885 at St. Mildred’s Church, Whippingham, Isle of Wight

Learn More About Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Consort

by Susan Flantzer

NPG x24138; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by Vernon Heath, printed and published by Samuel E. Poulton

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by Vernon Heath, published by Samuel E. Poulton, albumen carte-de-visite, 1861 NPG x24138 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The husband of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born at Schloss Rosenau near Coburg now in Bavaria, Germany on August 26, 1819. Albert was the second of the two sons of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his first wife Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert was christened with the German names Franz Albrecht August Karl Emanuel, but was called Albrecht, Albert in English. His godparents were:

Albert had one brother who was fourteen months older:

Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, with her children, Albert and Ernst; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Since Albert and Ernst were close in age, they were also close companions during their childhood. However, their childhood was marred by their parents’ disastrous marriage, separation, and divorce. Albert’s mother and father were very different and drifted apart soon after Albert’s birth. Albert’s father was a notorious womanizer and as a result, his young wife Louise (who was 17 years younger than her husband) sought consolation with Baron Alexander von Hanstein, who was the Duke’s equerry. Louise was exiled from court in 1824 and divorced in March of 1826. Seven months later, Louise secretly married von Hanstein. She died in 1831 at the age of 30 from cancer of the uterus. After Louise’s exile from court in 1824, it is probable that she never saw her sons again. In 1831, the Duke married again to Duchess Marie of Württemberg, his niece who was the daughter of his sister Antoinette. The Duke and Marie had no children, but Marie had a good relationship with her stepsons (who were also her first cousins) and maintained a correspondence with Albert throughout their lives.

Albert was first educated at home by a caring tutor, Johann Christoph Florschütz, who had a lifelong correspondence with Albert. Albert then studied with private tutors in Brussels, Belgium (where his paternal uncle was King Leopold I of the Belgians) and then studied at the University of Bonn, which many German princes attended. While at the University of Bonn, Albert studied law, political economy, philosophy, and art history. In his free time, he played music and excelled in gymnastics, fencing, and riding.

The Coburg family had strong ties to the British royal family. Albert’s uncle Leopold (the previously mentioned King of the Belgians) had married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of King George IV, who had died in childbirth. His aunt Victoria had married King George III’s son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and was the mother of the future Queen Victoria. Plans for a possible marriage between first cousins Victoria and Albert had first been mentioned by their grandmother the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg in letters to her daughter the Duchess of Kent in 1821. The idea was later taken up by their uncle Leopold.

In 1836, the cousins met for the first time when Ernst and Albert were taken by their father on a visit to England. Seventeen-year-old Victoria seemed instantly infatuated with Albert. She wrote to her uncle Leopold, “How delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality that could be desired to make me perfectly happy.” In October of 1839, Albert and Ernst again visited England, staying at Windsor Castle with Victoria, who was now Queen. On October 15, 1839, the 20-year-old monarch summoned her cousin Albert and proposed to him. Albert accepted, but wrote to his stepmother Marie, “My future position will have its dark sides, and the sky will not always be blue and unclouded.” The couple was married in the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace on February 10, 1840 at 1 p.m. Traditionally, royal weddings took place at night, but this wedding was held during the day so the Queen’s subjects could see the couple as they traveled down The Mall from Buckingham Palace.
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

NPG D11227; The Bridal Morn (Queen Victoria; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) by Samuel William Reynolds Jr, after Frederick William Lock

The Bridal Morn (Queen Victoria; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) by Samuel William Reynolds Jr, after Frederick William Lock, mezzotint, published 1844 NPG D11227 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Shortly after his marriage, Albert wrote to a friend, “I am only the husband and not the master in my house.” Albert was expected to be ready at a moment’s notice to go to his new wife to read aloud, play the piano, be petted, or blot her signature. Victoria was delighted to parade Albert before her court and, as she confided to her diary, to have him put her stockings on her feet. It was during Victoria’s early pregnancies that Albert showed a talent for diplomatic dealings with her ministers and an ability to understand complex government documents. Soon Albert was dealing with more and more of Victoria’s governmental duties and they worked with their desks side by side. As Albert’s influence over Victoria grew, she began to defer to him on every issue.

Victoria was quite temperamental and had a strong sexuality which Albert apparently met, as evidenced by the birth of nine children. Albert was somewhat prudish and his high moral standards would never allow extramarital affairs. He found marriage to Victoria a full-time job which exhausted him physically and mentally. Victoria rewarded Albert by creating him Prince Consort in 1857.

All of Victoria and Albert’s nine children grew to adulthood. However, their youngest son, Leopold, was afflicted with the genetic blood clotting disease hemophilia and two of their daughters, Alice and Beatrice, were hemophilia carriers.
Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia in Queen Victoria’s Family

Victoria and Albert’s children and grandchildren married into other European royal families giving Victoria the unofficial title of “Grandmother of Europe.” Their grandchildren sat upon the thrones of Germany/Prussia, Greece, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom as monarchs or consorts. Through these marriages, Victoria and Albert’s daughters and granddaughters transmitted the genetic disease hemophilia into other royal families. Victoria and Albert’s descendants currently sit upon the thrones of Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Unofficial Royalty: Queen Victoria’s Children and Grandchildren

Victoria and Albert and their nine children in 1857; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Victoria and Albert, whose primary residences were Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, felt they needed residences of their very own. Albert’s architectural talents are evident in the seaside Italian style palace Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and in Balmoral, a castle in the Scottish highlands. Osborne and Balmoral became their favorite homes. Following Victoria’s death, Osborne was given to the state and served as a Royal Navy training college from 1903-1921. Today it is open to the public as a home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Balmoral Castle remains the private property of the monarch and is used by the British Royal Family for their summer holidays.
English Heritage: Osborne House
Official Website: Balmoral Castle and Estate

View image | gettyimages.com Balmoral Castle in 1854

 

Besides helping Victoria privately with her paperwork, Prince Albert took on a number of public roles. He became President of the Society for the Extinction of Slavery. Slavery had already been abolished throughout the British Empire, but was still legal in a number of places including the United States and the French colonies. After being appointed Chancellor of Cambridge University, Albert was able to have the curriculum modified to include modern history and the natural sciences in addition to the traditional mathematics and classics.

Albert’s interest in applying science and art to the manufacturing industry led to the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Prince Albert, along with Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant and an inventor, organized the exhibition. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, the exhibition allowed countries to show their modern and technological achievements. Queen Victoria opened the exhibition in a specially designed glass building known as the Crystal Palace on May 1, 1851. It was a huge success and a surplus of £180,000 was used to purchase land in South Kensington, London on which was established educational and cultural institutions, including what would later be the Victoria and Albert Museum.

NPG D16397; The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. Plate 2. The Foreign Nave by Joseph Nash

The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. Plate 2. The Foreign Nave by Joseph Nash, hand-coloured lithograph, published 1851, NPG D16397 © National Portrait Gallery, London

After years of mismanagement by the previous Hanover monarchs, Albert managed to modernize the royal finances and investments, and under his watch, the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, the hereditary property of the Prince of Wales, steadily increased. Today’s British royal family can thank Prince Albert for their financial situation.

On March 16, 1861, Queen Victoria’s mother died. Because of Victoria’s grief, Albert took over many of her duties despite the fact that he was chronically suffering from stomach problems. In the fall, Victoria and Albert learned that their 20-year-old eldest son Bertie (the future King Edward VII) was having an affair with an Irish actress. Devastated by this news, Albert traveled to Cambridge to discuss the matter with his son. On November 25, 1861, the two walked together in the pouring rain while Albert explained how horrified he and the Queen felt about the situation. Victoria later blamed her son for Albert’s final illness – “That boy…I never can, or ever shall look at him without a shudder.”

When Albert returned to Windsor Castle, he complained of shoulder, leg, back, and stomach pain and could not eat or sleep. He was examined by doctors who assured Victoria that Albert would be better in two or three days. Even while Albert was feeling ill, he was still working. When the Trent Affair, the forcible removal of Confederate diplomats from a British ship by Union forces during the American Civil War, threatened war between the United States and United Kingdom, Albert intervened on November 30, 1861 to soften the British diplomatic response. His action probably prevented war between the United States and the United Kingdom.

However, Albert’s condition continued to worsen. Victoria continued to hope for a recovery, but finally, on December 11, the doctors told her the dismal prognosis. At 10:50 PM on December 14, 1861, Albert died in the presence of his wife and five of their nine children.

Sir William Jenner, one of Prince Albert’s doctors, diagnosed his final illness as typhoid fever, but Albert’s modern biographers have argued that the diagnosis is incorrect. Albert had been complaining of stomach pains for two years and this may indicate that he died of some chronic disease, perhaps Crohn’s disease, kidney failure, or cancer.

L0021975 The last moments of HRH the Prince Consort.

The last moments of HRH the Prince Consort, Photo Credit: Wellcome Library, London

Left a widow with nine children at the age of 42, the Queen’s grief was immense. She withdrew from public life and wore black for the 40 years that she survived Albert. The Blue Room in Windsor Castle where Albert had died was kept as it had been when he was alive, complete with hot water brought in the morning, and linen and towels changed daily. Among themselves, Queen Victoria’s family called December 14 “Mausoleum Day.” They were expected to attend the annual memorial service in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore where Albert was buried. After her death on January 22, 1901 at the age of 81, Victoria was interred alongside her beloved Albert in the Royal Mausoleum.

Tomb of Victoria and Albert; Photo Credit – findagrave.com, Scott Michaels

Wikipedia: Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Consort

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Charlotte of Schaumburg-Lippe, Queen of Württemberg

photo: Von Andreas Faessler – Eigenes Werk, CC-BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39455299

Charlotte of Schaumburg-Lippe, Queen of Württemberg

Princess Charlotte Marie Luise Ida Hermine Mathilde of Schaumburg-Lippe was the second wife of King Wilhelm II of Württemberg, and the country’s last Queen. She was born on September 10, 1864 at Schloss Ratiborschitz in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), to Prince Wilhelm of Schaumburg-Lippe and Princess Bathildis of Anhalt-Dessau, and had seven younger siblings:

Charlotte was raised primarily at Schloss Náchod, the family’s estate in Náchod (now in the Czech Republic), and showed a great interest in sports and hunting, in addition to the more traditional music and art.

King Wilhelm II of Württemberg. source: Wikipedia

At 22 years old, Charlotte married the then-Crown Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg on April 8, 1886. Wilhelm had been widowed four years earlier and had a young daughter. Despite hoping that this new marriage might produce a male heir, Charlotte and Wilhelm had no children of their own.

In October 1891, Charlotte became Queen of Württemberg when her husband succeeded to the throne. The couple took up residence at the Wilhelmspalais in Stuttgart. As Queen, Charlotte didn’t enjoy the same popularity that her husband did. Much of this is her unwillingness to carry out her public role in the way that was expected of her by the people of Württemberg. She much preferred more private events, and after some time, stopped accompanying her husband on many official events.

source: Wikipedia

Despite this, Charlotte took on the charity work which was expected of her, assuming the role in several organizations vacated by her predecessor. Causes of most interest to her involved the health and welfare of women, and she was most willing to use her royal position to bring support and attention to them.

When the monarchy came to an end in 1918, King Wilhelm II negotiated with the new German state to ensure that he and his wife would receive an annual income, as well as a residence for life – Schloss Bebenhausen. The two retired to Bebenhausen, where Wilhelm died in 1921. Queen Charlotte remained there, going by the title Duchess of Württemberg, for another 25 years.

Having suffered a stroke which confined her to a wheelchair two years earlier, Queen Charlotte died at Schloss Bebenhausen on July 16, 1946. With little pomp or ceremony, she was quietly buried beside her husband in the Old Cemetery on the grounds of Ludwigsburg Palace.

In addition to having been the last Queen of Württemberg, Charlotte held the distinction of being the last living Queen from any of the German states.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Marie of Waldeck and Pyrmont, first wife of King Wilhelm II of Württemberg

source: Wikipedia

Marie of Waldeck and Pyrmont, first wife of King Wilhelm II of Württemberg

Princess Marie of Waldeck and Pyrmont was the first wife of Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg, who later reigned as King Wilhelm II. She was born Georgine Henriette Marie on May 23, 1857 in Arolsen, the third daughter of Georg Viktor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and Princess Helena of Nassau. Marie had six siblings:

Wilhelm of Württemberg. source: Wikipedia

On February 15, 1877 in Arolsen, Marie married Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg, the son of Prince Friedrich of Württemberg and Princess Katherina of Württemberg (a daughter of King Wilhelm I). They had two children:

Princess Marie’s grave at the Old Cemetery, Ludwigsburg Palace. photo: Von peter schmelzle – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18585848

On April 24, 1882, Marie gave birth to a stillborn daughter and suffered serious complications from childbirth. She died six days later, on April 30, 1882. She is buried in the Old Cemetery on the grounds of Ludwigsburg Palace.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Wilhelm II, King of Württemberg

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Wilhelm II, King of Württemberg

King Wilhelm II was the last King of Württemerg, reigning from 1891 until the abolishment of the monarchy in 1918. He was born Wilhelm Karl Paul Heinrich Friedrich on February 25, 1848, the only child of Prince Friedrich of Württemberg, a grandson of King Friedrich I of Württemberg, and Princess Katherina Friederike of Württemberg, a daughter of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg.

He studied law, political science and finance at the University of Tübingen and the University of Göttingen, and also served in the Prussian army. As his uncle, King Karl, was childless, Wilhelm was raised with the expectation that he would one day become King himself.

Princess Marie of Waldeck and Pyrmont. source: Wikipedia

Wilhelm’s first wife was Princess Marie of Waldeck and Pyrmont, the daughter of Georg Viktor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and Princess Helena of Nassau. The couple married in Arolsen on February 15, 1877, and had two children:

On April 30, 1882, Princess Marie died as a result of complications from giving birth several days earlier to a stillborn daughter. Having already lost his young son, Wilhelm was devastated, and from most accounts never fully recovered from these two losses. However, with a young daughter, and hoping for a male heir, Wilhelm soon married for a second time.

Princess Charlotte of Schaumburg-Lippe. source: Wikipedia

His second wife was Princess Charlotte of Schaumburg-Lippe, who he married in Bückeburg on April 8, 1886. Charlotte was the daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Schaumburg-Lippe and Princess Bathildis of Anhalt-Dessau. They had no children.

Wilhelm became King on October 6, 1891 upon the death of King Karl. By then, Württemberg was part of the German Empire, although it retained its status as a Kingdom. The King was much-loved by his people, and respected for his more down-to-earth nature. He was often seen walking his dogs in the streets of Stuttgart, unaccompanied, and greeting all those he met along the way.

King Wilhelm II with Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, c1909. source: Wikipedia

His reign came to an end in November 1918, after the fall of the German Empire led to the abdications of all of the ruling families. Before formally abdicating, Wilhelm negotiated with the new government to receive an annual income for himself and his wife, and also retained Schloss Bebenhausen, where the couple lived for the remainder of their lives.

source: Wikipedia

The last King of Württemberg died at Schloss Bebenhausen on October 2, 1921. He is buried in the Old Cemetery on the grounds of Ludwigsburg Palace.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, Queen of Württemberg

source: Wikipedia

Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, Queen of Württemberg

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia was the wife of King Karl I of Württemberg. She was born in St. Petersburg on September 11, 1822 to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and Princess Charlotte of Prussia, and had six siblings:

Crown Prince Karl, c1851. source: Wikipedia

In January 1846, Olga met her future husband, Crown Prince Karl of Württemberg, while both were in Palermo, Two Sicilies. Karl was the son of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg and Duchess Pauline of Württemberg. After just a few times together, Karl proposed on January 18 and Olga accepted. They were married in a lavish ceremony at the Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 13, 1846. They had no children of their own, but in 1863, took in Olga’s niece, Grand Duchess Vera Constantinovna, the daughter of Olga’s brother Konstantin. They later formally adopted Vera in 1871. It is believed by many that Karl was gay, which contributed to their not having any children together. Whether true or not, it is a fact that he had very close relationships with several men, some of which caused significant public outcry and scandal.

From the time she arrived in Württemberg, Olga threw herself into charity work, focusing on the education of girls, and helping wounded soldiers and handicapped people. After becoming Queen in 1864, she continued to support these, and many other causes, earning her the utmost respect and devotion of the people of Württemberg.

Queen Olga (left), with two ladies-in-waiting and a reader (possibly her husband’s chamberlain and reputed lover, Charles Woodcock), c1885. photo: Wikipedia

Aside from her charity work, Queen Olga also had several other interests. One of these was a significant interest in natural science, and she amassed an extensive collection of minerals which was later left to the State Museum for Natural History in Stuttgart. She also, in 1881, wrote a memoir – The Golden Dream of My Youth – about her childhood and life in Russia up until the time of her marriage. She was also particularly interested in natural science, and amassed an extensive collection of minerals which was later left to the State Museum for Nature in Stuttgart.

The Altes Palais (Old Castle) in Stuttgart. photo: By BuzzWoof – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3869267

Just a year after her husband’s death, Dowager Queen Olga died on October 30, 1892 at Schloss Friedrichshafen (link in German), in Friedrichshafen, Württemberg. She is buried alongside her husband in the crypt below the Schlosskirche at the Old Castle (Altes Palais) in Stuttgart.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Karl I, King of Württemberg

source: Wikipedia

Karl I, King of Württemberg

King Karl of Württemberg reigned from 1864 until his death in 1891. He was born Karl Friedrich Alexander on March 6, 1823 in Stuttgart, the son of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg and Duchess Pauline of Württemberg. He had two siblings:

He also had 2 half-siblings from his father’s earlier marriage to Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia:

Karl underwent the traditional military training expected of someone of his position, and also studied in Berlin and at the University of Tübingen. He often traveled throughout Europe, and while in Palermo in January 1846, Karl met his future bride.

Olga, painted by Winterhalter. source: Wikipedia

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia was the daughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and Princess Charlotte of Prussia. Her parents were hoping to find a significant dynastic marriage for Olga, and the future King of Württemberg was – or so they thought – a perfect choice. Karl and Olga met just a few times before he proposed to her on January 18, 1846. Six months later, on July 13, 1846, they married at the Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon their return, they took up residence at Villa Berg, Karl’s summer palace in Stuttgart. They had no children of their own, but later adopted Olga’s niece, Grand Duchess Vera Constantinovna.

Karl, Olga and Vera, c1870. source: Wikipedia

The marriage appeared to be a happy one, although it is possible it was never consummated. By most accounts, Karl was homosexual, and enjoyed very close relationships with several men through the years. One of these was an American – Charles Woodcock – who served as a reader to Queen Olga. The King and 27-year younger Woodcock became very close, even appearing together in public wearing matching clothes. Soon, Karl appointed Woodcock as his chamberlain, and in 1888, created him Baron Woodcock-Savage. However, a public scandal quickly erupted, and Karl was forced to end the relationship and send Woodcock back to America. Following Woodcock’s departure, the King allegedly developed a relationship with the technical director of the royal theater, which would last for the remainder of his life.

source: Wikipedia

Karl took the throne as King Karl I upon his father’s death in June 1864. He was far more liberal than his father, and this was reflected in his actions. He restored the freedom of the press universal suffrage. Although he sided with Austria during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, he soon entered into a treaty with Prussia, and would later fight alongside them in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. He was the last of the kingdoms to join the North German Confederation, and when the German Empire was proclaimed in 1871 – coincidentally on his 25th wedding anniversary – he chose not to attend, but instead was represented by his cousin, August.  Several years later, he arranged the marriage of his adopted daughter, Vera, to Duke Eugen of Württemberg. The couple married in May 1874 and had three children.

Tombs of King Karl and Queen Olga. photo: By Wuselig – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49313906

King Karl died in Stuttgart on October 6, 1891. He is buried in the crypt beneath the Schlosskirche at the Old Castle (Altes Schloss) in Stuttgart alongside his wife.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Pauline of Württemberg, Queen of Württemberg

source: Wikipedia

Pauline of Württemberg, Queen of Württemberg

Queen Pauline of Württemberg was the third wife of King Wilhelm I. She was born Duchess Pauline Therese Luise of Württemberg on September 4, 1800 in Riga, the daughter of Duke Ludwig of Württemberg and Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg. She had four siblings:

and one half-sibling from her father’s first marriage:

King Wilhelm I, c1822. source: Wikipedia

In Stuttgart on April 15, 1820, she married her first cousin, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg, as his third wife. He was the son of King Friedrich I of Württemberg and Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. They had three children:

Queen Pauline with her son, the future King Karl I, c1825. source: Wikipedia

The couple seemed happy at first, but within a few years, the King had returned to his mistresses and the marriage became very strained. While not getting the respect she deserved from her husband, Pauline did receive much respect from the people of Württemberg – both for her devotion to helping the poor, and the fact that she had provided an heir to the throne.

After King Wilhelm’s death in 1864, Pauline lived much of her remaining years in Switzerland. She died in Stuttgart on March 10, 1783, and is buried in the Royal Crypt in the Schlosskirche at Ludwigsburg Palace.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia, Queen of Württemberg

source: Wikipedia

Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia, Queen of Württemberg

Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia was the second wife of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. She was born at the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo on May 10, 1788, the sixth child of Tsar Paul I of Russia and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Ekaterina had nine siblings:

Ekaterina was particularly close with her eldest brother, the future Tsar Alexander I. They maintained an extensive correspondence their entire lives, and he viewed her as one of his closest confidantes.

Prince Georg of Oldenburg, c1811. source: Wikipedia

By 1809, the French Emperor Napoléon had made it known to Tsar Alexander I that he was interested in marrying Ekaterina. He was in the midst of divorcing his wife, Joséphine, in order to find a wife who could provide him with an heir. He was also desperately hoping to gain an alliance with Russia. But Ekaterina’s family – particularly her mother – would have no part of such an idea, and the Dowager Empress quickly arranged a marriage for her daughter.

On August 3, 1809, Ekaterina married her first cousin, Duke Georg of Oldenburg, the son of Peter I, Grand Duke of Oldenburg and Duchess Friederike of Württemberg. The couple had two sons:

On the day of their marriage, Georg was given the style Imperial Highness, and appointed Governor-General of the province of Tver. Despite being arranged, the marriage was a happy one. Sadly, however, it was short-lived. Georg contracted typhoid and died on December 27, 1812.

Wilhelm of Württemberg, c1820. source: Wikipedia

Ekaterina took refuge with her family, and often traveled with her brother, the Tsar. It was on a visit to Britain in 1814 that she first met another first cousin, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg. He was the son of King Friedrich I of Württemberg and Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. From all accounts, it was love at first sight, despite the fact that Wilhelm was married at the time to his first wife, Karoline Augusta of Bavaria. Soon after that first meeting, in August 1814 Wilhelm received a divorce from his wife on the grounds that the marriage had not been consummated – An arranged marriage, the two had little in common, and little interest in each other – and an annulment was granted by the Pope on January 12, 1816. Twelve days later, on January 24, 1816, Ekaterina and Wilhelm were married in St. Petersburg. They had two daughters:

On October 30, 1816 – the day she gave birth to her first daughter – Katharina (having taken the German version of her name) also became Queen of Württemberg when her husband succeeded to the throne following his father’s death. She became very active in charity work in her new country, which was in a time of great need due to crop failures and widespread famine. In 1817, she established the Central Charitable Society which worked to help people in need. She also established the Queen-Katharina-Stift, a school for girls.

The Württemberg Mausoleum, Stuttgart. photo: By Julian Herzog, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43006254

Despite their happy marriage, Wilhelm continued his relationships with numerous mistresses, including the Italian Blanche de la Flèche. When Katharina was made aware of this, she drove to Scharnhausen on January 3, 1819, where she found Wilhelm and his mistress together. She quickly returned to Stuttgart, and just six days later, on January 9, 1819, Queen Katharina died of complications from pneumonia which she had apparently contracted from not being dressed warmly enough on her travels to confront her husband. King Wilhelm had the Württemberg Mausoleum built in Stuttgart and her remains were interred there in 1824.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Wilhelm I, King of Württemberg

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Wilhelm I, King of Württemberg

King Wilhelm I of Württemberg reigned from 1816 until his death in 1864. He was born Friedrich Wilhelm Karl (known as Fritz) on September 27, 1781 in Lüben, Prussia (now Lubin, Poland), to the future King Friedrich I of Württemberg and Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. He had three siblings:

Fritz’s early years were spent in Russia, where his father served as Governor-General of Eastern Finland. They left Russia in 1786, and eventually took up residence at the Ludwigsburg Palace, where Fritz and his brother received a strict education. In 1797, his father became reigning Duke of Württemberg, and Fritz was the Hereditary Prince. By this time, Fritz’s relationship with his father had grown strained, as Fritz rebelled against his strict upbringing and his father’s domineering manner. He attended the University of Tübingen, and served as a volunteer in the Austrian Army. Despite returning to Württemberg in 1801, his relationship with his father continued to deteriorate, compounded by Fritz’s relationship with Therese von Abel, the daughter of a politician. Fritz once again left Württemberg in 1803, settling in Saarburg, where Therese gave birth to twins, both of whom died shortly after birth.

He returned to Württemberg in 1805, and although his father did not include him in the affairs of state, he did set up his own court. The following year, Württemberg became a Kingdom was soon defeated after joining the coalition against Napoléon. The French Emperor, wanting to establish close dynastic ties to Württemberg, arranged for the marriage of his brother, Jérôme, to Fritz’s sister Catherina.

Princess Karoline Auguste of Bavaria. source: Wikipedia

In order to avoid being forced into a marriage by Napoleon, Fritz quickly began negotiations to marry Princess Karoline Auguste of Bavaria. She was the daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Augusta Wilhelmina of Hesse-Darmstadt. The couple were married in Munich on June 8, 1808, but Fritz really had no interest in his wife, and they had no children. His marriage would be relatively short-lived. Soon after his marriage, Fritz met his brother-in-law Jérôme’s former mistress, Blanche La Flèche, and began an affair which would continue for much of the rest of his life. But along with this affair, Fritz also fell in love with someone else.

Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna. source: Wikipedia

While in London in 1814, Fritz met and fell in love with his first cousin, Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia. Ekaterina was the daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia and Princess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, and was the widow of Duke Georg of Oldenburg. With Napoleon no longer in power, Fritz quickly sought a divorce from Karoline Auguste. After she quickly agreed, and with the consent of both of their fathers, a divorce was granted in August 1814. However, it would be January 1816 before the Pope would issue an annulment. (Later that year, Karoline Auguste married Emperor Franz I of Austria, as his fourth wife.)

Twelve days after the annulment was granted, Fritz married Ekaterina in St. Petersburg on January 24, 1816. During their short marriage, the couple had two daughters:

Fritz became King of Württemberg upon his father’s death on October 30, 1816. As a way of distancing himself from his father’s reign, he dropped his first name, and chose to reign as King Wilhelm I. He came to the throne during a very difficult time in Württemberg, with 1816 being known as the Year Without A Summer. However, Wilhelm, and his wife, are credited with making great strides to alleviate the suffering, establishing policies and reforms which helped the people of Württemberg, regardless of social class. The king arranged for food and livestock to be imported, and established an Agricultural Academy to help promote the growth of crops and better general nutrition amongst his people. The Queen established numerous charities to help the poor, and was behind the establishment of the Württemberg State Savings Bank in 1818.

Duchess Pauline of Württemberg. source: Wikipedia

Sadly, the Queen died on January 9, 1819, leaving Wilhelm a widow with two young daughters. In order to find a step-mother for his children, and hopefully to provide a male heir, Wilhelm again set out to find a bride. On April 15, 1820 in Stuttgart, Wilhelm married another first cousin, Duchess Pauline of Württemberg. She was the daughter of Duke Ludwig of Württemberg and Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg. The couple had three children:

King Wilhelm with Queen Pauline and his children – Karl; Sophie and Marie (center); Katherina and Augusta (bottom). source: Wikipedia

Despite the public perception that the marriage was a happy one, it was far from it. The King had maintained his affair with Blanche La Flèche, and in 1828, began a relationship with a German actress, Amalie von Stubenrauch, which would last until his death.

Wilhelm’s reign saw the economic boom of the 1830s, the expansion of roads and shipping routes, and a healthy and prosperous economy. But by the mid-1840s, several years of poor harvests had led to a rise in famine and calls for a more democratic government. Protests in 1848, as well as yet another revolution in France, led to Wilhelm conceding many of the demands being made – reinstating freedom of the press, and agreeing to form a liberal government.

King Wilhelm I, c1860. source: Wikipedia

In his later years, King Wilhelm’s health deteriorated, and he had little contact with his family, instead spending all of his time in the company of his mistress, Amalie von Stubenrauch. Knowing his death was approaching, he had all of his letters and journals destroyed. King Wilhelm I died on June 25, 1864 at Schloss Rosenstein in Stuttgart. He is buried in the Württemberg Mausoleum in Stuttgart, alongside his second wife. In his will, he left bequests to two of his mistresses, but excluded his last wife, Queen Pauline.

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.