by Scott Mehl
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:
- Prince Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke (1906-1937); married Princess Cecilie of Greece, had issue
- Prince Ludwig (1908-1968); married The Hon. Margaret Geddes, no issue.
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.