Category Archives: Hessian Royals

Mathilde Karoline of Bavaria, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Mathilde Caroline of Bavaria was Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, through her marriage to Grand Duke Ludwig III. She was born in Augsburg on August 30, 1813, the eldest daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Therese of Saxe-Hildburgausen. Mathilde Karoline had eight siblings:

Ludwig III. source: Wikipedia

On December 26, 1833, Mathilde Karoline married the future Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine. They had no children. She became Grand Duchess upon her husband’s accession in 1848.

Grand Duchess Mathilde Karoline died in Darmstadt on May 25, 1862. Because she had remained Catholic after her marriage into the grand ducal family who were Lutheran, she is buried at St. Ludwig’s Catholic Church (link in German) in Darmstadt. One other member of the grand ducal family, her husband’s uncle, Prince Friedrich, was also Catholic and is buried at St. Ludwig’s as well.

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

Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Ludwig III was born in Darmstadt on June 9, 1806, the eldest son of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Wilhelmine of Baden. He had five siblings:

Ludwig studied at Leipzig University as well as receiving military training.

Mathilde Karoline of Bavaria. source: Wikipedia

On December 26, 1833 in Munich, Ludwig married Princess Mathilde Caroline of Bavaria, the eldest daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. They had no children.

Ludwig became Grand Duke on March 5, 1848 when his father abdicated during the March Revolution.

Anna Magdalena Appel. source: Wikipedia

In June 1868, six years after the death of his first wife, Ludwig married a second time to Anna Magdalena Appel. The marriage was morganatic, so she did not become Grand Duchess. Instead, she was created Baroness of Hochstätten. Together, they lived very quietly at Schloss Braunshardt in Weiterstadt for the remainder of his life.

Grand Duke Ludwig III died in Seeheim, Hesse, on June 13, 1877. He is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt. He was succeeded by his nephew, Ludwig IV. The Baroness of Hochstätten moved to Wiesbaden where she lived until her death in December 1917. She is buried in the Old Cemetery in Darmstadt.

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

Wilhelmine of Baden, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Wilhelmine of Baden was the second Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, as the wife of Grand Duke Ludwig II. She was born in Karlsruhe on September 21, 1788, the youngest child of Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Wilhelmine had seven siblings:

Ludwig II. source: Wikipedia

On June 19, 1804 in Karlsruhe, Wilhelmine married her first cousin, the future Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine. They had seven children:

In 1810, Wilhelmine had a large garden – called the Rosenhöhe (link in German) – built on a hill in Darmstadt. Soon, she added several buildings, including a summer residence and a tea house. When her daughter Elisabeth died in 1826, Wilhelmine decided to have a mausoleum built in the park instead of using the traditional grand ducal tomb in the Darmstadt Stadtkirche. It is because of this that the Rosenhöhe has become the traditional burial site for the Grand Ducal Family.

Schloss Heiligenberg. photo: by Heidas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3645053

Wilhelmine’s marriage was never happy, and she separated from her husband after the birth of their first three children. In the 1820s, Wilhelmine purchased Schloss Heiligenberg in Jugenheim and expanded and designed the grounds just as she had done at Rosenhöhe. It was here where she met her chamberlain, Baron August von Searclens de Grancy and began a longtime affair. While her husband recognized their younger children as his own, it is believed that they were actually fathered by de Grancy.

Despite her separation, Wilhelmine became Grand Duchess upon her husband’s accession in 1830. With the increased means now at her disposal, she set about expanding Heiligenberg, and avoiding the court in Darmstadt as much as possible.

Grand Duchess Wilhelmine died in Darmstadt on January 27, 1836 after contracting typhoid. She is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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

Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Ludwig II was Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine from April 6, 1830 until his abdication in 1848. He was born in Darmstadt on December 26, 1777, the eldest son of Ludwig X, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (the future Grand Duke Ludwig I) and Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt. He had seven siblings:

  • Princess Luise (1779) – married Ludwig of Anhalt-Köthen, had issue
  • Prince Georg (1780) – married Caroline Török de Szendrö, had issue
  • Prince Friedrich (1788) – unmarried
  • stillborn twin daughters (1789)
  • Prince Emil (1790) – unmarried
  • Prince Gustav (1791) – unmarried

Ludwig became Hereditary Grand Duke in 1806 when the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine was established. He served in the First Chamber of the Hessian parliament, and was a member of the Council of State from 1823-1830. He also represented the Grand Duchy at the Congress of Erfurt in 1808 and the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

Wilhelmine of Baden. source: Wikipedia

On June 19, 1804 in Karlsruhe, Ludwig married his first cousin, Princess Wilhelmine of Baden. She was the daughter of Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Ludwig and Wilhelmine had seven children:

Ludwig became Grand Duke upon his father’s death in March 1830, and continued his father’s policies. Soon after his accession, he demanded that the state assume all of his personal debts. This led to a growing dislike for Ludwig amongst the Hessian people. He also stood strongly against calls for a more liberal government which was sweeping through Europe. Following the beginning of the March Revolution, Grand Duke Ludwig II abdicated on March 5, 1848, in favor of his eldest son.

Grand Duke Ludwig II died just three months later, on June 16, 1848. He is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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

Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Luise Henriette Karoline of Hesse-Darmstadt was the first Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, through her marriage to Grand Duke Ludwig I. She was born in Darmstadt on February 15, 1761, the daughter of Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt and Countess Maria Luise Albertine of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg. Luise had eight siblings:

Ludwig I. source: Wikipedia

On February 19, 1777 in Darmstadt, Luise married her first cousin, Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt (the future Grand Duke Ludwig I), the son of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. Luise and Ludwig had eight children:

Since the mid-1780s, Grand Duchess Luise spent the summer months Auerbach, where the family had a summer residence in a large park known as the Fürstenlager. It was there that she died on October 24, 1829. She was buried in the Darmstadt Stadtkirche until 1910, when her remains were moved to the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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

Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Ludwig I was the first Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, reigning from 1806-1830. He was born on June 14, 1753 in Prenzlau, Brandenburg, the eldest son of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. Ludwig had seven siblings:

Along with his siblings, Ludwig was raised primarily in Buchsweiler (now Bouxwiller, in France) by his mother, while his father was often away with his military career. Ludwig attended the University of Leiden and then traveled throughout Europe. After escorting his sister Wilhelmine to Russia for her wedding to the future Emperor Paul I in 1773, Ludwig remained in Moscow and served with the Russian military. With the rank of General, he fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1774. In 1776, he was engaged to Sophia Dorothea of Württemberg. However, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great instead chose Sophia Dorothea as a bride for the future Paul I after Ludwig’s sister Wilhelmine died.

Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt. source: Wikipedia

The following year, on February 19, 1777, Ludwig married Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, his first cousin. She was the daughter of Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt and Maria Luise of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg. Ludwig and Luise had eight children:

Ludwig succeeded his father in April 1790 as Ludwig X, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. His reign saw the establishment of constitutional rule in Hesse-Darmstadt, with Catholics and Jews being given equal rights. Having lost significant territory to France, he soon saw the Landgraviate expand when he was given the former Duchy of Westphalia in 1803, as part of the German mediatization. After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, Hesse-Darmstadt was raised to the Grand Duchy of Hesse, with Ludwig becoming its first Grand Duke, Ludwig I. Some years later, at the Congress of Vienna, he was forced to cede his Westphalian territories, but in return was given the Rheinhessen region which included the city of Mainz. It was then, on July 7, 1816, that the Grand Duchy of Hesse became the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine.

As Grand Duke, Ludwig granted the first constitution and worked to establish cultural institutions in the Grand Duchy. He established the court theater in Darmstadt as well as the court library and promoted the arts. He is also credited with creating the Botanical Garden in Darmstadt.

Grand Duke Ludwig I died in Darmstadt on April 6, 1830, and was succeeded by his eldest son. He was buried in the Darmstadt Stadtkirche until 1910 when his remains were moved to the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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

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.