by Susan Flantzer
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 Frederick William III of Hesse (1854–1888), unmarried; died by falling overboard while on a sea voyage
- Princess Elisabeth of Hesse (1861–1955), married Leopold, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt, had issue
- Prince Alexander Frederick of Hesse (1863–1945), married Baroness Gisela Stockhorner von Starheim, had issue
- Princess Marie-Polyxene of Hesse (1872–1882), died at age 10 of osteomyelitis
- Princess Sybille Marguerite of Hesse (1877–1925), married Baron Friedrich von Vincke (divorced 1923)
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.”
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.
- Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Kassel (1893–1916), unmarried, killed in action during World War I, see Unofficial Royalty: September 1916 – Royalty and World War I
- Prince Maximilian of Hesse-Kassel (1894 – 1914), unmarried, killed in action during World War I, see Unofficial Royalty: October 1914 – Royalty and World War I (scroll down)
- Prince Philipp of Hesse-Kassel (1896 –1980), married Princess Mafalda of Savoy, had issue
- Prince Wolfgang of Hesse-Kassel (1896 –1989), married Princess Marie Alexandra of Baden, no issue
- Prince Richard of Hesse-Kassel (1901 – 1969), unmarried
- Prince Christoph of Hesse-Kassel (1901 –1943), married Princess Sophie of Greece (sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), had issue, killed in action during World War II
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.