by Susan Flantzer
Amalia Maria Frederica was born a Duchess of Oldenburg on December 21, 1818. Her parents were Duke Augustus of Oldenburg (later Grand Duke of Oldenburg) and his first wife, Princess Adelheid of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym. Amalia’s mother died two years after her birth at the age of 20. Five years after his first wife’s death, Amalia’s father married Princess Ida of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym, a younger sister of his first wife. Princess Ida died three years after her marriage and three years late Amalia’s father married Princess Cecilia of Sweden, daughter of the deposed King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden.
Amalia had one sister:
- Duchess Frederica (1820 – 1891) married Jakob von Washington, a distant relative of the first President of the United States George Washington, had issue
Via her father’s second wife Princess Ida of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym, Amalia had one half-brother who succeeded his father as Grand Duke:
- Peter, Grand Duke of Oldenburg (1827 – 1900); married Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg, had issue
Amalia had three half-brothers from her father’s third marriage to Princess Cecilia of Sweden:
- Duke Alexander (1834 – 1835), died young
- Duke August (1836 – 1837), died young
- Duke Elimar (1844 – 1895), married morganatically Baroness Natalie Vogel von Friesenhof, had issue
On December 22, 1836, Amalia married King Otto I of Greece in Oldenburg. King Otto had been born Prince Otto Friedrich Ludwig of Bavaria of the Wittelsbach dynasty at Schloss Mirabell in Salzburg, Austria, the second son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In 1833, Otto had been appointed king of the newly created Kingdom of Greece.
Upon her arrival in Greece, the 17-year-old beautiful Queen Amalia was heartily welcomed. She worked on social issues and was involved in the creation of gardens in the capital city of Athens. Amalia wisely realized that her style of dress should emulate the style of the Greek people. She created a “romantic folksy court dress” which became the Greek national costume.
Because her marriage did not produce an heir and because she interfered with the government, Queen Amalia became unpopular. King Otto was unfaithful to his wife and had an affair with the scandalous Jane Digby, who previously had an affair with Otto’s father. In 1861, there was an assassination attempt made on Queen Amalia. The assassin had been sentenced to death, but Queen Amalia intervened and he was sentenced instead to life imprisonment.
In 1862, a coup took place in Athens while the king and queen were visiting the Peloponnese. Otto and Amalia left Greece for Bavaria aboard a British warship, with the Greek royal regalia, formerly crown jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty that ruled in Bavaria, that Otto had brought with him to Greece. In 1959, Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria presented the Greek royal regalia to King Paul of Greece. Although the Greek monarchy has since been deposed, the jewels have remained in Greece.
Otto died in 1867 at the age of 52 in the Neue Residenz in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany and was buried at the Theatine Church in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Amalia survived him by eight years, dying on May 20, 1875 at the age of 56 also at the Neue Residenz in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany. Her tomb is next to her husband’s at the Theatine Church in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.