Category Archives: Mecklenburg-Schwerin Royals

Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland was the last Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, as the wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV. Princess Alexandra Luise Marie Olga Elisabeth Therese Vera was born at Schloss Ort in Gmunden, Austria on September 29, 1882, the daughter of Ernst August, Crown Prince of Hanover and Princess Thyra of Denmark.

Alexandra (standing, front-right) with her parents and siblings, c1888

Alexandra had five siblings:

Alexandra and Franz Friedrich following their wedding

On July 7, 1904 at Schloss Cumberland (link in German) in Gmunden, Alexandra married Friedrich Franz IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They went on to have five children:

Because of the death of her daughter Olga at just six weeks old, Grand Duchess Alexandra worked to improve medical care for children in the Grand Duchy. She established the Olga Foundation, which raised money for education and training for nurses and midwives.

Following her husband’s abdication on November 14, 1918, the family were forced to leave the Grand Duchy. They traveled to Denmark at the invitation of Queen Alexandrine, and stayed for a year at Sorgenfri Palace. The following year, they were permitted to return to Mecklenburg and recovered several of their properties. For the next two years, they lived at the Gelbensande hunting lodge (link in German) before returning to Ludwigslust Palace in 1921. They also began spending their summers at the Alexandrinen Cottage (link in German) in Heiligendamm.

Glücksburg Castle. photo: By Wolfgang Pehlemann – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21693722

With the Red Army approaching Mecklenburg, the family was again forced to flee in 1945. Intending to return to Denmark, they traveled to Glücksburg Castle, the home of their youngest daughter. While there, the Grand Duke died. The Dowager Grand Duchess Alexandra also died there, on August 30, 1963, having survived her husband by nearly 18 years. She is buried beside him in the New Cemetery in Glücksburg.

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Friedrich Franz IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Friedrich Franz IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV was the last reigning Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He was born in Palermo, Italy on April 9, 1882, the only son of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia. He had two sisters:

He also had a half-brother – Alexis Louis de Wenden – his mother’s illegitimate son, born in 1902.

Friedrich Franz with his mother and sisters, c1890.

Friedrich Franz attended the Vitzthum Gymnasium in Dresden, and then studied law at the University of Bonn. He became Grand Duke upon his father’s death in April 1897. Because he was still a minor at the time, his uncle Duke Johann Albrecht, served as regent until Friedrich Franz came of age in 1901. One he’d taken control of his government, the young Grand Duke attempted to reform the Mecklenburg constitution. However, his efforts failed when the government of Mecklenburg-Strelitz refused to agree to his ideas.

Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland

Encouraged to marry young by his mother, Friedrich Franz married Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland in Gmunden, Austria on June 7, 1904. She was the daughter of Ernst August, Crown Prince of Hanover and Princess Thyra of Denmark. The couple had five children:

In February 1918, Friedrich Franz IV began to serve as Regent for the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The reigning Grand Duke, Adolf Friedrich VI, committed suicide, and the heir presumptive was serving with the Russian military, and had made it known that he wished to renounce his rights of succession. The regency lasted only nine months, as on November 14, 1918, Friedrich Franz IV was forced to abdicate as Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, as well as the regency in Strelitz.

Forced to leave the grand duchy, Friedrich Franz and his family traveled to Denmark at the invitation of his sister, Queen Alexandrine. There, they lived at Sorgenfri Palace for a year, before being permitted to return to Mecklenburg and recovering several of the family’s properties. They lived for two years at the Gelbensande hunting lodge (link in German), and then in 1921, took up residence at Ludwigslust Palace. They also spent their summers at the Alexandrinen Cottage (link in German) in Heiligendamm.

With the advance of the Red Army, the Grand Duke, along with his wife and son Christian Ludwig, fled to Glücksburg Castle, the home of his youngest daughter and her husband, with the intention of returning to Denmark. However, the Grand Duke became ill, and while under house arrest at the Castle, he died there on November 17, 1945. He is buried in the New Cemetery in Glücksburg.

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Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia was the wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was born at the Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 28, 1860, the second child – and only daughter – of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich of Russia and Princess Cecilie Auguste of Baden. Anastasia had six brothers:

When Anastasia was just two years old, her father was appointed Viceroy of the Caucasus and the family moved to Georgia where she was raised. The favorite of her father, and doted on by her brothers, Anastasia grew to become a very strong-willed and intelligent young woman. Educated privately at home, she developed a love of languages, becoming fluent in French, German and English at a very young age.

Engagement photo of Anastasia and Friedrich Franz

On May 4, 1878, the engagement of Grand Duchess Anastasia and the future Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was announced. The marriage was arranged by Anastasia’s mother and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, who was Friedrich Franz’s younger sister. Anastasia and her fiancé were second-cousins – both great-grandchildren of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. They were married at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg on January 24, 1879, in both Orthodox and Protestant services. Following their marriage, the couple settled in the Marienpalais in Schwerin and had three children:

Anastasia with her children, c1894

Due her husband’s health, they traveled frequently to warmer climates. They were staying in Palermo, Italy when her husband became Grand Duke on April 15, 1883. When they eventually returned to Schwerin, they took up residence at Schwerin Castle. The Grand Duke reached an agreement with the government that he would stay in Schwerin for five months each year, but would travel elsewhere the rest of the year due to his health. They spent six months each year at Villa Wenden, their private home in Cannes, and preferred to stay at the Gelbensande hunting lodge when in the Grand Duchy.

The Grand Duchess was an avid tennis player, and had courts built at Villa Wenden where she played quite often. She was also a frequent visitor to the casino in Monte Carlo, often gambling away large amounts of her fortune.

Following her husband’s death in April 1897, Anastasia inherited Villa Wenden and the hunting lodge in Gelbensande, along with most of his personal property. She spent as little time in Schwerin as possible, preferring Gelbensande and Cannes, and traveled often to St. Petersburg, Paris and London.

A scandal erupted in 1902 when the Dowager Grand Duchess became pregnant from an affair with her personal secretary, Vladimir Alexandrovitch Paltov. She gave birth to a son, Alexis Louis de Wenden, in Nice on December 23, 1902. The surname ‘de Wenden’ was granted by King Christian IX of Denmark. Anastasia, who first hid the fact that she was pregnant, raised the child herself. The scandal ripped through the royal houses of Europe, and Anastasia was shunned by several, particularly the Prussian court. When her younger daughter married the daughter of the German Emperor – who was particularly outspoken in his disdain for Anastasia – she was only permitted to come to Berlin twice – for her daughter’s wedding in 1905, and for the birth of their first child the following year.

World War I saw her family divided – her son was a reigning German Grand Duke and her daughter was the daughter-in-law of the German Emperor, while her Russian brothers were on the opposing side. As the Dowager Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Anastasia was unable to remain in France, and as she placed her loyalty with the Russians, she was unable to return to Schwerin. She settled instead in Switzerland, living at the Savoy Hotel in Lausanne. The toll of the war was particularly devastating for Anastasia. She saw her son lose his throne, and the murders of three of her brothers in Russia.

Following the war, she returned to France. Unwelcome as a German, she used her Russian passport to sneak into the country as part of her the entourage of her cousin, Princess Ekatarina Yourievskaya. She settled at Villa Fantasia in Èze, near Cannes, where she returned to her hectic social schedule and frequent trips to the Monte Carlo casinos.

Dowager Grand Duchess Anastasia in her later years

Dowager Grand Duchess Anastasia died in Èze on March 11, 1922 after suffering a stroke. Her remains were returned to Schwerin where she was buried in the Helena Pavlovna Mausoleum (link in German) on the grounds of Ludwigslust Palace. Her funeral would be the first time her three legitimate children were together since the beginning of the war.

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Wedding of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

On February 7, 1901 in The Hague, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands married Duke Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. A civil ceremony was held at the Palace of Justice followed by a religious ceremony at the Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk. At the time of the wedding, Heinrich took the Dutch version of his name, Hendrik, and was given the title Prince of the Netherlands.

Wilhelmina’s Early Life

Queen Wilhelmina was born on August 31, 1880 at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, the youngest child of King Willem III of the Netherlands, with his second wife, Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont. She became heiress-presumptive to the Dutch throne when the last of her elder half-brothers died in 1884. She became Queen upon her father’s death in 1890, with her mother serving as Regent until Wilhelmina reached the age of 18. She went on to reign for nearly 58 years – the longest reign of any Dutch monarch – before abdicating in favor of her only child, Juliana, in 1948.

For more information about Queen Wilhelmina see:

Unofficial Royalty: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Royal House of the Netherlands: Queen Wilhelmina

Heinrich’s Early Life

Duke Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was born on April 18, 1876 in Schwerin, the youngest son of Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, with his third wife, Princess Marie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. His siblings and half-siblings included Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia and Grand Duchess Elisabeth Alexandrine of Oldenburg.

For more information about Prince Hendrik see:
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

The Engagement

Wilhelmina and Heinrich first met in October 1892, when both were attending the golden anniversary celebrations of Grand Duke Karl Alexander and Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Sophie was Wilhelmina’s paternal aunt, and Heinrich’s half-brother was married to one of Sophie’s daughters. Wilhelmina and Heinrich were second cousins once removed, through their mutual descent from Tsar Paul I of Russia. They met again in May 1900, when Wilhelmina and her mother traveled to Schloss Schwarzburg in Rudolstadt to meet three prospective grooms for the young Queen. Wilhelmina chose Heinrich, and within a few months, their engagement was announced on October 16, 1900. Plans for the wedding, scheduled for February 7, 1901 in The Hague, were overshadowed by the deaths of Wilhelmina’s uncle, Grand Duke Karl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach on January 5th, and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom on January 22nd.

Pre-Wedding Festivities

Foreign royal guests began to arrive in The Hague several days before the wedding, and the festivities began to take place. Numerous choral societies performed in front of the palace of the bride and groom and their guests, and the couple made several trips around the city to greet the crowds. A state banquet was held on February 5th for all of the foreign guests, followed by a gala performance at the theatre.

Wedding Guests

Royal guests at the wedding included:

Queen Emma of the Netherlands
Dowager Grand Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Friedrich Franz IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Duke Johann Albrecht of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Duke Adolf-Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Prince and Princess Heinrich XVIII Reuss of Köstritz
Prince Ulrich of Schönburg-Waldenburg
Prince Hermann of Schönburg-Waldenburg
The Hereditary Count of Erbach
Prince Albrecht of Prussia
The Prince and Princess of Bentheim-Steinfurt
The Prince and Princess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Princess Tekla of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Prince and Princess Heinrich of Schönburg
The Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
The Prince and Princess of Wied
The Hereditary Prince and Princess of Wied
Princess Luise of Wied
Duke Paul Friedrich and Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
The Prince and Princess of Waldeck-Pyrmont
Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia
Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia
Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia
The Duchess of Albany
Princess Alice of Albany
Prince Adolf of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Oldenburg

The Wedding Attire

The Queen wore a gown designed by Mme. Nicaud of Paris. Made of white silk and satin, the gown was embellished with embroidery of “the finest silver tissue” with silver threaded seed pearls and a design of orange blossoms. The embroidery work was down at the School of Needlework in Amsterdam. The low-cut bodice was trimmed with antique lace, and extended out to a train of over seven feet in length, trailed with more embroidery. Her antique lace veil was held in place by the smaller version of the Stuart Tiara, which the bride complemented with a large diamond collet necklace and the large diamond bow brooch at the center of her bodice. Wilhelmina carried a large bouquet of lilies of the valley, adorned with green, red and long white satin ribbons.

The groom wore the uniform of a Dutch Admiral, adorned with the sash and star of the Dutch Military Order of Willem – the highest order of chivalry in the Netherlands, and the collar and star of the House Order of the Wendish Crown – the highest order of Mecklenburg.

The Civil Ceremony

The wedding day began with the Civil Ceremony. At 11:00am, Wilhelmina and Heinrich departed Noordeinde Palace in the gilded coach which had been presented to the Queen by the people of Amsterdam. They arrived at the Palace of Justice, where the civil ceremony took place in the White Hall. In attendance were the couple’s mothers and six witnesses – the Speakers of the two houses of Parliament; Adjutant General Van Bergambacht, The Grand Chamberlain, General Count du Monceau; Vice President of the Council of State, Mynheer Van Schorer, and The Chief Justice. After the brief ceremony, conducted by the Minister of Justice, Dr. van der Linden, the couple, their mothers and the witnesses signed the official marriage document. The couple then made their procession to the church for the religious ceremony.

The Religious Ceremony

As the bride and groom made their procession from the Palace of Justice, guests had already arrived and were seated in the Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk. The several hundred guests included members of the Dutch Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of nearly every town and city in the Netherlands, members of the court and other personal friends. The procession into the church began with the foreign royal guests and family members, with the bride and groom the last to arrive. Despite the glitter of jewels and the numerous prominent guests, the service was the very simple and traditional marriage service of the Dutch Reformed Church, described as a service of “puritanical simplicity”, with no bridesmaids or groomsmen. The couple exchanged their vows and rings, followed by an address by the Chaplain. Following a final blessing, they made their way out of the church, to process back to Noordeinde Palace.

The Wedding Banquet and Honeymoon

Upon arriving back at the palace, The Queen and her husband received numerous guests before hosting a luncheon for their families, royal guests, and Ministers of State. At 4:00 that afternoon, they departed for the railway station to make their way to Het Loo Palace, where they spent their honeymoon.

 

Friedrich Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Friedrich Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III (Friedrich Franz Paul Nikolaus Ernst Heinrich) was born on March 19, 1851 at Ludwigslust Palace, the eldest son of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II and his first wife, Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz. He had ten siblings from his father’s three marriages:

A rather sickly child, Friedrich Franz suffered from severe bronchial asthma and a weak heart which would plague him his entire life. Following several years of private education at home, he attended the Vitzhumsche High School in Dresden. He later studied law at the University of Bonn. Despite his health, Friedrich Franz also undertook a military career. He was first created an officer in Mecklenburg’s Grenadier Guards by his father in 1863, following by an appointment in the Prussian army. At the onset of the Franco-Prussian War, he served in the headquarters of King Wilhelm I of Prussia, and later represented Mecklenburg-Schwerin at the Imperial Proclamation in Versailles in 1871. Due to his health, he was forced to step down from his military role in the beginning of 1877.

Friedrich Franz and his fiancé, Anastasia Mikhailovna, 1878

On May 4, 1878, it was announced that Friedrich Franz was engaged to Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, the daughter of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich of Russia and Princess Cecilie of Baden. Friedrich Franz and Anastasia were second cousins, both great-grandchildren of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. They married at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg on January 24, 1879, in both Orthodox and Protestant services. The couple settled at the Marienpalais in Schwerin (link in German), and had three children:

Friedrich Franz III’s wife and children, c1895

Friedrich Franz became Grand Duke upon his father’s death on April 15, 1883. At the time, he and his family were living in the south of France, taking advantage of the milder climate. Unable to return to Schwerin for his father’s funeral, he entrusted his ministers with the management of the Grand Duchy. He eventually returned and took up residence at Schwerin Palace, but the climate was not good for his health. An agreement was reached, by which he would reside in Schwerin for five months of the year, and was free to live elsewhere the rest of the year provided that any further children would be born in Schwerin. Friedrich Franz III and his family spent the summers at their home in Gelbensande, a hunting lodge built in 1886 near Rostock and the Baltic Sea. They then moved on to Cannes from November until May, living at Villa Wenden which he had built there. They also spent time in Palermo and in Baden-Baden.

Villa Wenden in Cannes, France

With his health rapidly deteriorating in the Spring of 1897, the Grand Duke’s family gathered at Villa Wenden, anticipating the worst. On the evening of April 10, 1897, he was found unconscious at the bottom of the villa’s 25-foot retaining wall. He was taken inside, but soon died. Officially, the cause of death was an accident. Likely gasping for air, he had gone out onto the balcony and fell accidentally. However, rumors quickly spread that he had committed suicide.

Interior of the Helena Pavlovna Mausoleum following the burial of Friedrich Franz III.

His remains were brought back to Mecklenburg where he lay in state in the church at Schwerin Castle. In accordance with his wishes, his funeral was held at the church in Ludwigslust, with the funeral procession led by the German Empress, Viktoria Auguste. Following the service, he was buried in the Helena Pavlovna Mausoleum on the grounds of Ludwigslust Palace.

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Marie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Marie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Princess Marie Karoline Auguste of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt was the third wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was born in Raben Steinfeld on January 29, 1850, the daughter of Prince Adolf of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Princess Mathilde of Schönburg-Waldenburg.

Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

On July 4, 1868 in Rudolstadt, Marie married the widowed Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin as his third wife. She was just 18 years old while the Grand Duke was 45. They had four children together:

Grand Duchess Marie died suddenly on April 22, 1922 at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague. She was in The Netherlands for the 46th birthday celebrations of her youngest son. Her body was returned to Schwerin and she was buried in the Schwerin Cathedral.

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Anna of Hesse and by Rhine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Anna of Hesse and by Rhine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Princess Anna of Hesse and by Rhine was the second wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was born Princess Maria Anna Wilhelmine Elisabeth Mathilde on May 25, 1843 in Bessungen, Hesse, the only daughter of Prince Karl of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Elisabeth of Prussia. Anna had three brothers:

Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Anna was at one point considered as a possible wife for the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. However, she instead married Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on July 4, 1864 in Darmstadt. His first wife had died two years earlier and Anna became stepmother to his four children. She and Friedrich Franz had one daughter:

  • Duchess Anna (1865) – unmarried, died in her teens

On April 16, 1865, just a week after giving birth to her daughter, Grand Duchess Anna died. She is buried in the Schwerin Cathedral.

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Augusta Reuss of Köstritz, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Auguste Reuss of Köstritz, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Princess Auguste Mathilde Wilhelmine Reuss of Köstritz was the first wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was born in Klipphausen, Saxony on May 26, 1822, the daughter of Heinrich LXIII, Prince Reuss of Köstritz and his first wife, Countess Eleonore of Stolberg-Wernigerode. Auguste had five siblings, and six half-siblings from her father’s second marriage:

  • Joanna (1820) – married Prince Ferdinand of Schoenaich-Carolath
  • Heinrich IV, Prince Reuss of Köstritz (1821) – married Princess Luise Reuss of Greiz, had issue
  • Heinrich VI (1823) – died in infancy
  • Heinrich VII (1825) – married Princess Marie Alexandrine of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, had issue
  • Heinrich X (1827) – unmarried
  • Heinrich XII (1829) – married Anna, Countess of Hochberg, Baroness to Fürstenstein, no issue
  • Heinrich XIII (1830) – Anna, Countess of Hochberg, Baroness to Fürstenstein, no issue
  • Louise (1832) – unmarried
  • Heinrich XV (1834) – married Countess Luitgarde of Stolberg-Wernigerode,
  • Anna (1837) – married Prince Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode, had issue
  • Heinrich XVII (1839) – unmarried

Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

In Ludwigslust on November 3, 1849, she married Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II, and the couple had six children:

Memorial to Grand Duchess Auguste, Schwerin Castle. photo: By Ruchhöft-Plau – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6596407

Sadly, three years after giving birth to her youngest child, Grand Duchess Auguste died on March 3, 1862 in Schwerin. She is buried in the Schwerin Cathedral, and a memorial was built in her honor on the grounds of Schwerin Castle in 1905.

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Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was born at Ludwigslust Palace on February 28, 1823. He was the eldest son of Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Alexandrine of Prussia, and had five siblings:

  • Luise (1824) – married Hugo, Prince of Windisch-Grätz, had issue
  • Wilhelm (1827) – married Princess Alexandrine of Prussia, had issue
  • Helene (1829) – died in childhood
  • Marie (1831) – died in childhood
  • Pauline (1833) – unmarried

Friedrich Franz was educated privately at home before attending the Blochmann Institute in Dresden and then the University of Bonn. A career in the military followed, which saw him serve during the Second Schleswig War, the Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War. He became Grand Duke upon his father’s death in 1842.

Princess Auguste of Reuss-Köstritz

Friedrich Franz II married three times. His first wife was Princess Auguste of Reuss-Köstritz, the daughter of Heinrich LXIII, Prince Reuss of Köstritz and Countess Eleonore of Stolberg-Wernigerode. They married in Ludwigslust on November 3, 1849 and had six children:

Princess Anna of Hesse and by Rhine

Two years after Auguste’s death, Friedrich Franz married Princess Anna of Hesse and by Rhine, the daughter of Prince Karl of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Elisabeth of Prussia. They married in Darmstadt on July 4, 1864 and had one daughter:

  • Duchess Anne (1865) – unmarried, died in her teens

Princess Marie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt

Anna died just a week after giving birth to her daughter. Three years later, Friedrich Franz married for a third time. His bride was Princess Marie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, the daughter of Prince Adolf of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Princess Mathilde of Schönburg-Waldenburg. They married on July 4, 1868 and had four children:

During his reign, which lasted over 41 years, Friedrich Franz II oversaw numerous reforms in the Grand Duchy, including the improvement of the national hospital system, reform of the judicial system and the state church. Against the interests of his own relatives in neighboring Mecklenburg-Strelitz, he issued a liberal constitution in 1849. While the constitution was repealed the following year, his efforts made him immensely popular amongst his people.

Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II died in Schwerin on April 15, 1883, and is buried in the Schwerin Cathedral.

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Alexandrine of Prussia, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Alexandrine of Prussia, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Princess Alexandrine of Prussia was the wife of Grand Duke Paul Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was born in Berlin on February 23, 1803, the daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and Princess Luise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and was given the names Friederike Wilhelmine Alexandrine Marie Helene. She was known as Alexandrine, a name given to her in honor of her godfather, Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Alexandrine had eight siblings:

Paul Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

After rejecting a marriage proposal from the future King Oscar I of Sweden, Alexandrine married the future Grand Duke Paul Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Berlin on May 25, 1822. The couple took up residence at Ludwigslust Palace, and although the marriage was not a happy one, they had three children:

The Alexandrine Cottage in Heiligendamm. photo: Von Niteshift – Selbst fotografiert, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10361282

After her husband’s accession in 1837, he moved the court to Schwerin, leaving Ludwigslust to serve as a summer residence. They took up residence at the Altes Palais (link in German) in the center of the city. Just five years later, Paul Friedrich died and was succeeded by the couple’s son, Friedrich Franz II. Now the Dowager Duchess, Alexandrine retained the Altes Palais as her residence in Schwerin, as well as living at the Alexandrine Cottage in Heiligendamm (link in German).

Alexandrine in her later years, c1891

The Dowager Grand Duchess Alexandrine died in Schwerin on April 21, 1892. By that time, she had been widowed for fifty years, lived through the reign of her son, and saw her grandson succeed to the grand ducal throne in 1883. She was also the last living grandchild of King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, and had seen the Prussian throne held by her father, two brothers, a nephew and a great-nephew. She is buried beside her husband in the Schwerin Cathedral.

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