Category Archives: Hessian Royals

Princess Cecilie of Greece, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark was born at Tatoi Palace on June 22, 1911. She was the third daughter of Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Cecilie had four siblings:

Cecilie with her husband and two sons, c1933. photo: personal collection

On February 2, 1931, in Darmstadt, Cecilie married her first cousin once removed, Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. He was the son of Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. Cecilie and Georg Donatus (known as Don) had three children:

Cecilie’s life came to a tragic end on November 16, 1937. A very pregnant Cecilie, her husband, their two sons, and her mother-in-law, were traveling by plane to London to attend the wedding of Don’s brother, Prince Ludwig and Margaret Geddes four days later. Facing bad weather, the plane was unable to land in Brussels as scheduled and was instead diverted to Ostend. While attempting to land, the plane clipped a chimney on a factory near the airport, and the plane crashed leaving no survivors.

Having received the news, a private wedding ceremony was hastily arranged for Ludwig and Margaret the following day. They then traveled to Belgium to accompany the bodies back to Darmstadt. A funeral was held a few days later, attended by all of Cecilie’s family. Cecilie and her family were all buried in the burial ground next to the New Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe.

Ludwig and Margaret adopted Cecilie and Don’s only surviving child, Princess Johanna. Sadly, less than two years later, Johanna contracted meningitis and died. She was buried alongside the rest of her family.

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

Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Maximiliane Wilhelmine Auguste Sophie Marie, Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, was the first wife of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.  She was born on August 8, 1824 in Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine. Marie was the youngest child of Wilhelmine of Baden, wife of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. She was officially Ludwig’s daughter, but the last four of Wilhelmine’s children were probably the children of August von Senarclens de Grancy, her longtime lover, with whom Wilhelmine had lived since 1820. Wilhelmine and Ludwig had lived apart since 1809.

Marie’s siblings were:

Marie’s mother was responsible for her education, and her mother’s preference for French culture and literature was evident in her education which placed a special emphasis on literature and history. When Marie was 11 years old, her mother died and Marianne Gransi, a lady-in-waiting to Marie’s mother, took over the responsibility of Marie’s education.

In 1839, when Marie was 14, the heir to the Russian throne, Alexander Nikolaevich, the Tsarevich, visited Hesse while on a tour of Europe. Alexander fell in love with Marie despite the stigma of her birth. There was already a connection with the Russian Imperial Family. Marie’s maternal great aunt Louise of Baden (Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna)  had married Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Alexander Nikolaevich’s mother Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, born Princess Charlotte of Prussia, was against the marriage. In a letter to his mother, Alexander wrote: “I love her, and I would rather give up the throne, than not marry her. I will marry only her, that’s my decision!” Finally, after being persuaded by her husband Emperor Nicholas I, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna went to Darmstadt to meet Marie. The Empress liked what she saw and gave her permission to the marriage.

A Russian Orthodox priest came to Darmstadt to give Marie instruction in the Russian Orthodox religion. In September of 1840, Marie arrived in Russia and she shared her impressions of St. Petersburg in a letter to his family: “St. Petersburg is much more beautiful than I thought. The Neva River is wonderful. I think it is difficult to find a greater city. The view from the Winter Palace on the Neva is wonderful!” Marie was received into the Russian Orthodox Church on December 5, 1840 and she became Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. On the next day, the official betrothal was held in the presence of the Imperial Family, the whole court, the Russian nobility, many notable foreign guests, and representatives of foreign states.

The wedding took place on April 16, 1841, in the Cathedral Church of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Maria Alexandrovna wore a white dress richly embroidered with silver and diamonds. Over one shoulder lay a red ribbon and a crimson velvet robe with white satin and fine ermine was fastened on her shoulders. She was bedecked with a diamond tiara, diamond earrings, a diamond necklace, and diamond bracelets. Her future mother-in-law, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna could not resist the desire to decorate the bride’s hair with flowers, the symbols of purity and innocence. The Empress ordered orange blossoms to be brought to her and she stuck them between the diamonds in Maria Alexandrovna’s tiara and pinned a small branch on her chest.

Maria Alexandrovna and Alexander; Credit – Wikipedia

Alexander and Maria Alexandrovna had eight children:

Tsar Alexander II and his children; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Alexander always treated his wife with respect, but he had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children. His most prominent mistress was Catherine Dolgorukova with whom he had four children. During the last years of Maria Alexandrovna’s life, Catherine and her children lived in the Winter Palace. After his wife’s death, Alexander made a morganatic marriage with Catherine.

In 1855, Alexander became Emperor and Maria Alexandrovna became Empress. During the coronation on August 26, 1856 in the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, the crown fell from Maria’s head, which was seen as a bad omen.

Coronation of Alexander II, Alexander crowns Maria Feodorovna; Credit – Wikipedia

In cooperation with Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, the wife of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine who was Maria’s nephew, Maria arranged the marriage of her only daughter Maria Alexandrovna to Queen Victoria’ s second son Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, a marriage that Queen Victoria had resisted.

Maria Alexandrovna had a close relationship with her brother Alexander, who had made a morganatic marriage with Countess Julia Hauke, one of his sister’s ladies-in-waiting. Their children were the start of the Battenberg (and later the Mountbatten) family. Maria’s frequent stays at her brother’s Hessian home Schloss Heiligenberg resulted in the subsequent marriage of Maria’s son Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich with Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, and also the ultimate marriage of Maria’s grandson Emperor Nicholas II with Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine.  Both princesses were granddaughters of Queen Victoria.

The Hessian family at Schloss Heiligenberg in 1864, Women: Countess Julia Hauke, Princess Elisabeth of Prussia (wife of Prince Karl), Empress Maria Feodorovna, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom (wife of Prince Ludwig); Men: Prince Karl of Hesse and by Rhine, Prince Wilhelm of Hesse and by Rhine, Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine (future Grand Duke), Prince Gustaf Wasa of Sweden, Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

In 1863, Maria Alexandrovna contracted tuberculosis. Frequent childbirth, her husband’s infidelity, and death of her eldest son Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich in 1865 from meningitis at the age of 21, completely undermined Maria’s already weak health. Since the 1870s, Maria had spent the autumn and the fall in the warmer climates of the Crimea and Italy. Her health worsened after two assassination attempts on her husband’s life in 1879 and another one in 1880. Empress Maria Alexandrovna died at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg on June 3, 1880 at the age of 55. She was interred at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Her husband, who married his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova within a month of Maria’s death, died on March 13, 1881, the victim of an assassination by a bomb that blew off his legs.

Europe_August 5 to 18 514

Tomb of Alexander II (on left) and Maria Alexandrovna, his wife (on right); Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer, August 2011

Wikipedia: Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse and by Rhine)

Louise of Hesse-Kassel, Queen of Denmark

by Susan Flantzer

by Unknown photographer, postcard print, 1890s?

Louise, Queen of Denmark by unknown photographer, bromide postcard print, 1890s?, NPG x74394 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel (Luise Wilhelmine Friederike Caroline Auguste Julie), the wife of King Christian IX of Denmark, was born on September 7, 1817 in Kassel (now in Germany) where her father was stationed with the Danish army. Her father was Wilhelm, Prince and later titular Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. Wilhelm’s father, Friedrich III, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, was the founder of a cadet branch of the House of Hesse, Hesse-Kassel-Rumpenheim. In 1781, Friedrich bought Rumpenheim Castle in Offenbach (now in Germany) from his brother Karl, and it became the family’s seat. It became a tradition to hold family reunions at Rumpenheim Castle. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many European monarchs were descendants of the Hesse-Kassel-Rumpenheim branch of the House of Hesse, and they continued the family reunion tradition.

Louise’s mother was a Danish princess, Princess Charlotte, the daughter of Frederik, Hereditary Prince of Denmark, heir presumptive to the thrones of Denmark and Norway. He was the surviving son of King Frederick V of Denmark and his second wife, Juliana Maria of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel.

Louise lived in Denmark from the time she was three years old. The family first lived at the Prince Wilhelm Mansion in Copenhagen and later at the Brockdorff’s Palace, one of the four palaces of the Amalienborg in Copenhagen. Brockdorff’s Palace was later renamed Frederick VIII’s Palace and currently, it is the home of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and his family. Louise and her siblings received a typical royal upbringing. Louise was an accomplished painter and pianist. She received art lessons from two of the best Danish artists at the time, Martinus Rørbye and Wilhelm Marstrand, and was taught music by the composer Frederik Kuhlau.

Louise had five siblings:

The family had an important position in Denmark, and it became even more important when Princess Charlotte’s brother came to the Danish throne in 1839 as King Christian VIII. Not only was King Christian VIII Louise’s uncle, but he had only one legitimate child, the future King Frederik VII. Frederik had no children and Princess Charlotte was the only sibling of King Christian VIII to have children. This meant that it was likely that one of Princess Charlotte’s children would inherit the Danish throne.

On May 26, 1842, Louise married her second cousin Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg at Amalienborg Palace. Christian had visited Rumpenheim Castle in Hesse, where he took an interest in his future wife. After the wedding, the couple lived at the Yellow Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark.

by FranÁois Deron, albumen carte-de-visite, early 1860s

Louise, Queen of Denmark; Christian IX, King of Denmark by François Deron, albumen carte-de-visite, early 1860s, NPG x74387 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Christian and Louise had six children:

by Georg Emil Hansen, albumen carte-de-visite photomontage, 1862

Christian IX, King of Denmark and his family by Georg Emil Hansen, albumen carte-de-visite photomontage, 1862, NPG x74402 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Louise was as much the “Grandmother of Europe” as Queen Victoria was. Louise had 39 grandchildren and her grandsons included Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, King Constantine I of Greece, King George V of the United Kingdom, King Christian X of Denmark and King Haakon VII of Norway. Louise is the ancestors of six of the ten current European monarchs (King Philippe of Belgium, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, King Harald V of Norway, King Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and also her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) and two former monarchs (King Michael of Romania and King Constantine II of Greece).

Painting (by Laurits Tuxex) of Christian and Louise with their large family of European royalty at Fredensborg Palace; Credit – Wikipedia

Like Louise, Christian had spent much of his youth in Denmark and also had a claim on the Danish succession. Through his father, he was a direct male-line descendant of King Christian III of Denmark.  Through his mother, Christian was a great-grandson of King Frederik V of Denmark. King Frederik VI of Denmark was the first cousin of Christian’s mother and was married to Christian’s maternal aunt Marie. King Christian VIII died in 1848 and was succeeded by his son King Frederik VII, who had married three times, but had no children and this resulted in a succession crisis. Women could inherit the Danish throne only if there were no male heirs (Semi-Salic Law), and Louise and her mother both rescinded their succession rights to Christian, Louise’s husband, in 1851.  The Act of Succession of 1853 officially made Christian the heir of King Frederik VII, and he became king in 1863 when King Frederik VII died.
Act of Acceptance and Assurance, July 15, 1851 (or how Christian became king)
Royal Ordinance settling the Succession to the Crown on Prince Christian of Glücksburg
Wikipedia: Royal descendants of Queen Victoria and King Christian IX

Louise preferred not to take a public role as Queen of Denmark. She focused on her children and grandchildren, and her charities. Louise relished her role as matriarch of an extensive European family and enjoyed the annual family reunions. She was the patron of 26 charities including: Kronprinsesse Louises praktiske Tjenestepigeskole (The Servant Girl’s School of Crown Princess Louise), Dronning Louises Børnehospital (Queen Louise’s Children’s Hospital), Louisestiftelsen (Louise Foundation), an orphanage for girls that trained them to be domestic servants, Diakonissestiftelsen (The Deaconess Foundation) which introduced the Deaconess profession in Denmark, Foreningen til Oprettelse af Friskolebørneasyler i Kbh.s Arbejderkvarter (Foundation for the Establishment of Charter School Asylums in the Labor Quarters of Copenhagen), and Belønnings- og Forsørgelsesforeningen (The Reward- and Self-Supporting Foundation) which supported domestic servants by providing financial aid to the ill, unemployed and retired.

Like her daughter Alexandra, Louise suffered from hereditary otosclerosis, an abnormal growth of bone near the middle ear that can result in hearing loss. Louise’s deafness worsened during her last years and she was cared for by two deaconesses from the Deaconess Foundation she had started. Queen Louise, aged 81, died on September 29, 1898 at Bernstorff Palace near Copenhagen, surrounded by a large part of her family, who had come to Denmark to be at her side. King Christian IX died at age 87 on January 29, 1906 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. Both were buried in the Glücksburger Chapel at Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark.

Tomb_Christian IX_Louise

Tomb of King Christian IX and Queen Louise; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer, August of 2011

Wikipedia: Louise of Hesse-Kassel

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

Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna of Russia

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Grand Duchess of Russia

Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh (known as ‘Ducky’ in the family) was born on November 25, 1866 at the San Anton Palace in Malta, where her father was stationed at the time. She was the second daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. She was a granddaughter of both Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Tsar Alexander II of Russia.

Ducky had four siblings:

During her childhood, the family’s primary homes were Clarence House in London and Eastwell Park in Kent. They also spent several years at the San Anton Palace in Malta when her father was stationed there with the Royal Navy. In addition, they had homes in Coburg – Palais Edinburg and Schloss Rosenau – where her father was heir to his childless uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

In 1891, Queen Victoria began promoting the idea of a marriage between Ducky and her first cousin, Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine. He was the son of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine. The two were both visiting The Queen and she saw that they got along well and, coincidentally, even shared the same birthday.

Victoria Melita and Ernst Ludwig, 1894. source: Wikipedia

In 1893, her father succeeded to the ducal throne, and she became Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The following year, on April 9, 1894, she and Ernie (who was now Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine) married at Schloss Ehrenburg in Coburg. The couple had two children:

Despite the Queen’s observations, the new Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine and her husband were horribly mismatched. She craved her husband’s attention, while he focused more on their daughter than his wife. For a few years, they seemed to make the best of it, enjoying each others company as well as entertaining friends and family from around Europe. But by the late 1890s, it was clear that the marriage was a mistake. Allegedly, the final blow for Ducky was finding her husband in an intimate situation with a male servant. Despite this, Queen Victoria would not permit a divorce and the two continued on with their unhappy lives. Following the Queen’s death in 1901, there was no longer any obstacle in ending their marriage, and they divorced on December 21, 1901. Ducky returned to her mother in Coburg, and she and her former husband shared custody of their young daughter. Two years later, while on a visit to the Russian Imperial Family, Princess Elisabeth fell ill with typhoid. Before Ducky could arrive, the young princess died. Her daughter’s death finally severed the connection that Ducky had with her former husband and her former home.

On October 8, 1905, she married for a second time. This time her husband was another first cousin, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia, with whom she had had a mutual attraction for many years. They had first met in 1891 when Ducky traveled to Russia to attend the funeral of her aunt, Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna (the former Princess Alexandra of Greece). However, while the two were attracted to each other, her mother made every effort to dissuade Ducky from the thought of marrying him, as the Russian Orthodox Church did not permit marriages between first cousins.

Despite this, the two maintained their attraction for each other and eventually decided to marry. Upon finding out about the marriage, Tsar Nicholas II stripped Kirill of his royal funding and titles as well as his military appointments. He also banished him from Russia, so the couple settled in France. They had three children:

Victoria Melita with her husband and two daughters, c.1912. source: Wikipedia

In 1908, Tsar Nicholas II put personal feelings aside and permitted Kirill and Victoria Melita to return to Russia. Recent deaths in the Imperial Family brought Kirill to thrd in the line of succession, and it was deemed necessary to allow his retu , and restore his funding and military appointments. Victoria Melita was given the style Imperial Highness and created Grand Duchess Viktoria Feodorovna.

During World War I, Ducky worked as a nurse with the Red Cross. Soon after the Tsar’s abdication in 1917, she and Kirill decided it was best to leave Russia, and traveled to Finland where they would remain for over two years. In the fall of 1919, they moved on to Munich where they reunited with her mother, and then all moved to Zurich.

After her mother’s death in 1920, the family now had two homes at their disposal – her mother’s villa in Nice and the Villa Edinburg in Coburg (which later became known as the Kirill Palace) – and for the next several years, split their time between the two. In 1926, they settled for the last time in France, purchasing a villa in Saint-Briac. Here they settled into a more quiet life, while Victoria Melita put her energies into raising her son and ensuring her daughters made significant marriages.

with her husband and two younger children, 1935. source: Wikipedia

In February 1936, while attending the christening of her fifth grandchild, Victoria Melita suffered a stroke. She passed away on March 1, 1936 at the age of 59. She was buried in the Ducal Mausoleum at the Glockenburg Cemetery in Coburg. In March 1995, her remains, as well as those of her husband, were moved to the Grand Ducal Burial Vault at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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

Prince Friedrich Karl, Landgrave of Hesse

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse (Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin), husband of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Margarete of Prussia, was born on May 1, 1869 at his family’s estate Gut Panker, in Plön, Holstein, Prussia (now in Germany). He was the fourth of the six children of Friedrich Wilhelm, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and his second wife Princess Anna of Prussia. Friedrich Wilhelm’s first wife Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna of Russia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and his wife Princess Charlotte of Prussia, died in childbirth at the age of 19 after giving birth to a premature son who also died. Prince Friedrich Karl, known as Fischy, grew up in a home where his father never recovered from the loss of his first wife and treated his second wife politely, but in a distant manner. Fischy’s mother Anna was intelligent and a classically trained pianist who supported a number of musicians and composers including Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, and Anton Rubinstein. Fischy had two brothers and three sisters:

Prince Friedrich Karl 1892; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

In the summer of 1892, Fischy became engaged to Princess Margarete of Prussia (known as Mossy), the youngest child of Friedrich III, German Emperor and Victoria, Princess Royal. As a younger son, Fischy was not wealthy and did not own property, and it was with great reluctance that Mossy’s brother Wilhelm II, German Emperor gave the marriage his approval, telling his sister that he did so because “she was so unimportant.”

Prince Friedrich Karl and Princess Margarete in 1893; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Fischy and Mossy were married at the Friedenskirche in Potsdam, Prussia on January 25, 1893, the wedding anniversary of Mossy’s parents, which was bittersweet for Mossy’s widowed mother. Fischy and Mossy had six sons, including two sets of twins. Two of their sons were killed in action during World War I and one was killed in action during World War II.

Hesse-Kassel sons

Hesse-Kassel sons; Photo Credit – pinterest.com

Fischy and Mossy’s marriage was a happy one and in the early years of their marriage, they lived at Schloss Rumpenheim in Offenbach am Main, Hesse, (Germany). Upon the death of her mother in 1901, Mossy inherited Schloss Friedrichshof in Kronberg im Taunus, Hesse (Germany), the home her mother had built between 1889 and 1893 in honor of her late husband Friedrich III, German Emperor. Mossy was committed to retaining her mother’s home, so the family moved to Schloss Friedrichshof. The extensive art collection and the financial resources Mossy inherited along with Schloss Friedrichshof helped with the upkeep of her mother’s home. Today Schloss Friedrichshof, known as Schlosshotel Kronberg, is a five-star hotel which belongs to the House of Hesse.
Official Website: Schlosshotel Kronberg

Mossy and Fischy’s quiet life was interrupted in 1918. After becoming independent from Russia, the Finnish Parliament elected Fischy King of Finland of October 9, 1918. However, with the end of World War I, because of his German birth and the abdication of brother-in-law Wilhelm III, German Emperor and the ending of the monarchies in Germany, Fischy renounced the throne on December 14, 1918.

On March 16, 1925, Fischy’s brother abdicated as the head of the House of Hesse and was succeeded by Fischy. Even though Germany had done away with royal titles, Fischy was styled as Landgrave of Hesse. Fischy died on May 28, 1940 as the age of 72 and was buried at the family cemetery of the House of Hesse at the Schloss Kronberg (formerly Schloss Friedrichshof) in Taunus, Hesse, Germany. Mossy survived her husband by nearly 14 years, dying on January 22, 1954 at the age of 81, and was buried beside him.

Wikipedia: Prince Friedrich Karl, Landgrave of Hesse

Princess Margarete of Prussia, Landgravine of Hesse

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

A granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Margarete of Prussia (Margarete Beatrice Feodora) was born on April 22, 1872 at the Neues Palais in Potsdam, Prussia (Germany). She was given the name Margarete in honor of one of her godparents, Crown Princess Margharita of Italy, born Margherita of Savoy, the wife of the future King Umberto I of Italy. The youngest of the eight children of Friedrich III, German Emperor and Victoria, Princess Royal, the infant princess’ head was covered with short, moss-like hair and therefore, her family name was Mossy. Her mother was particularly close to her three youngest daughters and called them “my three sweet girls.” Mossy had four brothers and three sisters.

NPG x95907; Group photo of three sisters of Prussia. Margarete, Victoria and Sophie. by Alexander Bassano

Group photo of three sisters of Prussia. Margarete, Victoria, and Sophie. by Alexander Bassano, half-plate glass negative, circa 1887 NPG x95907 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Mossy’s father had died in 1888 and since the marriage of her sister Victoria (Moretta) in 1890, she had been her mother’s constant companion. However, Mossy’s mother would not dream of insisting her youngest daughter and her husband make their home with her as her mother Queen Victoria had insisted her youngest daughter Beatrice do. There was talk of Mossy marrying Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia (the future Tsar Nicholas II) and her cousin Prince Eddy (Albert Victor of Wales). At the time of these discussions, Mossy was infatuated with Prince Max of Baden, who did not reciprocate. In the summer of 1892, Mossy became engaged to Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse (Fischy), the third son of Frederick William of Hesse, Landgrave of Hesse. As the third son, Fischy was not wealthy and did not own property, and it was with great reluctance that Mossy’s brother Wilhelm II, German Emperor gave the marriage his approval, telling his sister that he did so because “she was so unimportant.”

Princess Margarete and Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse in 1893; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Mossy and Fischy were married at the Friedenskirche in Potsdam, Prussia on January 25, 1893, on the wedding anniversary of Mossy’s parents, which was bittersweet for Mossy’s widowed mother. Mossy and Fischy had six sons, including two sets of twins. Two of their sons were killed in action during World War I and one was killed in action during World War II.

Hesse-Kassel sons

Hesse-Kassel sons; Photo Credit – pinterest.com

Mossy, who lived until 1954, had a number of family tragedies to endure:

  • Prince Maximilian of Hesse-Kassel: second child, killed in action during World War I on October 13, 1914.  See Unofficial Royalty: October 1914 – Royalty and World War I
  • Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel: eldest child, killed in action during World War I on September 12, 1916.  See Unofficial Royalty: September 1916 – Royalty and World War I
  • Princess Mafalda of Savoy: wife of her son Prince Philipp of Hesse-Kassel, daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, died in Buchenwald concentration camp on August 27, 1944 during World War II. Philipp was also imprisoned in concentration camps after his fall-out with Hitler
  • Prince Christoph of Hesse-Kassel: youngest child, killed in action during World War II on October 7, 1943
  • Princess Marie Alexandra of Baden: wife of her son Prince Wolfgang of Hesse-Kassel, killed during an American air-raid on Frankfurt am Main on January 29, 1944 during World War II. Marie Alexandra and seven other women, who were all aid workers, were killed when the cellar, in which they had taken refuge, collapsed under the weight of the building

Mossy and Fischy’s marriage was a happy one and in the early years of their marriage, they lived at Schloss Rumpenheim in Offenbach am Main, Hesse, (Germany). Upon the death of her mother in 1901, Mossy inherited Schloss Friedrichshof in Kronberg im Taunus, Hesse (Germany), the home her mother had built between 1889 and 1893 in honor of her late husband Friedrich III, German Emperor. Mossy was committed to retaining her mother’s home, so her family moved to Schloss Friedrichshof. The extensive art collection and the financial resources Mossy inherited along with Schloss Friedrichshof helped with the upkeep of her mother’s home. Today Schloss Friedrichshof, known as Schlosshotel Kronberg, is a five-star hotel which belongs to the House of Hesse.
Official Website: Schlosshotel Kronberg

Schlosshotel Kronberg, 2007; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Mossy and Fischy’s quiet life was interrupted in 1918. After becoming independent from Russia, the Finnish Parliament elected Fischy King of Finland on October 9, 1918. However, with the end of World War I, because of his German birth and the abdication of brother-in-law Wilhelm III, German Emperor and the ending of the monarchies in Germany, Fischy renounced the throne on December 14, 1918.

On March 16, 1925, Fischy’s brother abdicated as the head of the House of Hesse and was succeeded by Fischy. Even though Germany had done away with royal titles, Fischy was styled as Landgrave of Hesse and Mossy was styled as Landgravine of Hesse. Fischy died on May 28, 1940 at the age of 72.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Schloss Friedrichshof was occupied by American troops and Mossy took refuge in a cottage on the grounds. Her extensive jewel collection, largely inherited from the mother, had been hidden in Schloss Friedrichshof. The jewels were found and smuggled out of Germany by three American officers. The thieves were not imprisoned until August 1951. Only 10% of the stolen jewels were recovered and they were returned to the Hesse family.

Mossy died on January 22, 1954 at the age of 81 at her home. She was buried with her husband at the family cemetery of the House of Hesse at the Schloss Kronberg (formerly Schloss Friedrichshof) in Taunus, Hesse, Germany.

Wikipedia: Princess Margarete of Prussia

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

Princess Marie “May” of Hesse and by Rhine

by Susan Flantzer

photo: Wikipedia

Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine

Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine (Marie Viktoria Feodore Leopoldine) was the youngest of seven children of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine. Known as ‘May’, she was born on May 24, 1874 at the Neues Palace, in Darmstadt.

May was described as “enchanting” by her mother and was closest to her sister Alix, the next youngest child. The two were inseparable, sharing a nursery and often being dressed identically.

May had six siblings:

Princess Marie (center front) with her siblings, 1878. photo: Wikipedia

At the beginning of November 1878, diphtheria began to make its rounds in the Grand Ducal Family. Princess Marie fell ill on November 12th, and sadly was the only one of the children not to recover. She died on the morning of November 16, 1878 and was buried in the Neues Mausoleum at Rosenhöhe Park, Darmstadt, beside her parents and brother Friedrich.

May’s death devastated her brother Ernst Ludwig. It was their mother Alice’s efforts to console him, with a hug and kiss, which led to her contracting the illness and passing away less than a month later.

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

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia

by Scott Mehl

Source: Wikipedia

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia

Queen Victoria’s 23rd grandchild, Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, is perhaps remembered best as Alexandra Feodorovna, the last Empress of Russia. She was born on June 6, 1872 at the New Palace in Darmstadt, the sixth of seven children of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine.

She was christened Alix Victoria Helena Luise Beatrice – named for her mother and her four maternal aunts – on July 1, 1872 (her parents’ tenth wedding anniversary) with the following godparents:

Alix had six siblings:

Hesse and by Rhine family in 1876; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Nicknamed Sunny, she was, by all accounts, a happy and beautiful child. She was very close with her brother Ernie and would remain so through her life. The family lived a rather simple life, as they were not very wealthy by royal standards. In 1877, Alix’s father became the reigning Grand Duke, but the children’s lives remained mostly unchanged. They spent time with Queen Victoria each year, relishing their visits to ‘Grandmama’ and looking forward to the next one. This relationship would become even closer in the coming years.

In 1878, most of the family became ill with diphtheria. Sadly, Alix’s younger sister, May, succumbed to the illness, followed a few weeks later by their mother, Princess Alice. Queen Victoria stepped in to serve as a surrogate mother to the children, managing nearly every detail of their lives.

One detail which was of great importance Queen Victoria was the marriages of her grandchildren. The Queen had promoted a marriage Alix and her first cousin, Prince Albert Victor of Wales, but Alix showed no interest. She had already found her true love — her second cousin, Nicholas, the Tsarevich of Russia. The couple had first met in Russia in 1884 at the wedding of Alix’s elder sister Ella to Nicholas’ uncle, Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich. Several years later, on a visit to her sister, Alix and Nicholas realized their feelings for one another and began their courtship. Despite misgivings from both The Queen and Nicholas’ parents, the couple continued their courting for several years. It was in 1894, while the family was all gathered in Coburg for the wedding of Alix’s brother Ernie and their first cousin, Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, that the couple finally became engaged.

Engagement photo of Alix and Nicholas, 1894. Source: Wikipedia

Alix had turned down Nicholas’ first proposal. A devout Lutheran, she was initially unwilling to give up her religion and convert, as would be required of her. However, after encouragement from her sister Ella, she finally relented and accepted the second time Nicholas asked. Their announcement still met with great resistance, particularly from his parents. However, several months later, Tsar Alexander III fell ill, and his feelings seem to have changed. Perhaps sensing death approaching, he allowed Nicholas to summon Alix to Russia and insisted on greeting and welcoming her in full military uniform.

The wedding of Nicholas and Alexandra, painting by Laurits Tuxen. Source: Wikipedia

Tsar Alexander III died on November 1, 1894, leaving Nicholas as the new Tsar Nicholas II. The following day, Alix was received into the Russian Orthodox Church and was given the name Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna. Although originally planning to marry the following spring, the wedding was quickly arranged and the couple married on November 26, 1894, in the Grand Church of the Winter Palace. The young princess from Darmstadt was now Empress of All the Russians. Over the next ten years, the couple had five children:

Alexandra found it very difficult to relate to the Russian people and was perceived as being very haughty and aloof. Those who knew her attribute this to her extreme shyness. This was magnified by the drastic difference in personality of her mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, who was very outgoing and greatly loved. Alix was also met with distrust by the Russian people, due to her German roots. This would be greatly magnified in years to come, during World War I.

Having had four daughters, Alexandra felt great pressure to provide an heir. Finally, in 1904, she gave birth to a son, Alexei. However, it would soon become apparent that she was a carrier of hemophilia, and her young son was a sufferer. This would cause great pain to the Empress, and great measures were taken to protect him from harm and to hide the illness from the people. When it eventually became public knowledge, it led to more dislike for the Empress, with many of the Russian people blaming her for the heir’s illness.  See Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia in Queen Victoria’s Descendants.

After working with many physicians to help Alexei, the Empress turned to mystics and faith-healers. This led to her close, and disastrous, relationship with Grigori Rasputin. Several times he appeared to have brought the Tsarevich back from the brink of death, which further cemented Alexandra’s reliance. To many historians and experts, this relationship would contribute greatly to the fall of the Russian monarchy.

 

During World War I, in March 1917, Nicholas was forced to abdicate. The family was held under house arrest first at the Alexander Palace, and later in Tobolsk. Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, they were moved to the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg. It was here on the morning of July 17, 1918, that the family were brought to a room in the basement and assassinated. Their bodies were initially thrown down a mine, then retrieved and hastily buried.

In 1979, a mass grave was discovered, believed to include the remains of the Imperial Family. They were exhumed in 1991, and in 1998, through DNA testing, it was announced that the remains were of Nicholas, Alexandra and three of their daughters. On July 17, 1998 – 80 years to the day of their murders – the bodies were interred in the St. Catherine Chapel at the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The remains of the last two children were found in a nearby grave in 2007 and positively identified the following year. They were buried alongside the rest of the Imperial Family.

The St Catherine Chapel, with the tombs of the Imperial Family. Source: Wikipedia

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

Prince Friedrich “Frittie” of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

photo: Wikipedia

Prince Friedrich of Hesse and by Rhine

Born on October 7, 1870, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm August Viktor Leopold Ludwig of Hesse (known as ‘Frittie’) was the fifth child, and youngest son of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine. One of his given names was Leopold, in honor of his uncle, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany.

Frittie had six siblings:

Hesse and by Rhine family in 1876; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Following a cut to his ear in February 1873, it was discovered that Frittie suffered from hemophilia when the wound took days to stop bleeding. Ironically, it was the same disease suffered by his uncle and godfather, Prince Leopold.
Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia in Queen Victoria’s Descendants

In May 1873, Frittie and his brother Ernst Ludwig were playing in their mother’s bedroom at the Neues Palais. Ernst went into another room to look through the window (which was at an angle to the window in Alice’s bedroom). While Alice was out of the room to get Ernst, Frittie climbed up to the window in the bedroom to try and see Ernst. From all accounts, the chair he had climbed on tipped over and Frittie fell from the window to the ground below.

Due to his hemophilia, Prince Friedrich died from his injuries on May 29, 1873. He is buried in the Neues Mausoleum at Rosenhöhe Park, Darmstadt along with his parents and younger sister Marie.

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

Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

photo: Wikipedia

Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich was the second wife of Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, a grandson of Queen Victoria. She was born Eleonore Marie Ernestine on September 17, 1871, the fourth of seven children of Hermann, The Prince of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich and Countess Agnes of Stolberg-Wernigerode.

Eleonore (known affectionately as Onor) married Ernst Ludwig on February 2, 1905 in Darmstadt. He was the son of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine. The couple had two sons:

Onor quickly became popular with the people of Hesse and was known for her down-to-earth and approachable manner. It was partially due to this that they were treated rather well at the end of World War I. While many of Ernie’s counterparts were stripped of their possessions, and in some cases, exiled from their homelands, Ernie and Onor remained much loved by the Hessian people. They lived out the rest of their lives at Wolfsgarten and the New Palace in Darmstadt.

She was widowed on October 9, 1937 when her beloved Ernie passed away. Just weeks later, on November 16, 1937, she boarded a plane bound for London accompanied by her elder son Georg Donatus, his wife and their two sons. The group was heading to London for the wedding of Onor’s younger son, Ludwig. Tragically, the plane crashed in Ostend, Belgium, and all were killed.
Unofficial Royalty: November 16, 1937 – Deaths of the Grand Ducal Family of Hesse and by Rhine

The last Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine was buried alongside her husband in the burial ground in Rosenhöhe Park, Darmstadt. Around them are the graves of their children and grandchildren.

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