by Susan Flantzer
A granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Margarete of Prussia (Margarete Beatrice Feodora) was born on April 22, 1872 at the Neues Palais in Potsdam, Prussia (Germany). She was given the name Margarete in honor of one of her godparents, Crown Princess Margharita of Italy, born Margherita of Savoy, the wife of the future King Umberto I of Italy. The youngest of the eight children of Friedrich III, German Emperor and Victoria, Princess Royal, the infant princess’ head was covered with short, moss-like hair and therefore, her family name was Mossy. Her mother was particularly close to her three youngest daughters and called them “my three sweet girls.” Mossy had four brothers and three sisters.
- Wilhelm II, German Emperor (1859 –1941) married (1) Princess Auguste Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein, had issue (2) Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, no issue
- Charlotte (1860 –1919) married Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, had issue
- Heinrich (1862 –1929) married his first cousin Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, had issue
- Sigismund (1864-1866), died young from meningitis
- Victoria (1866 – 1929) married (1) Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe, no issue (2) Alexander Zoubkov, no issue
- Waldemar (1868 – 1879) died of diphtheria at age 11
- Sophie (1870 – 1932) married King Constantine I of Greece, had issue
Mossy’s father had died in 1888 and since the marriage of her sister Victoria (Moretta) in 1890, she had been her mother’s constant companion. However, Mossy’s mother would not dream of insisting her youngest daughter and her husband make their home with her as her mother Queen Victoria had insisted her youngest daughter Beatrice do. There was talk of Mossy marrying Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia (the future Tsar Nicholas II) and her cousin Prince Eddy (Albert Victor of Wales). At the time of these discussions, Mossy was infatuated with Prince Max of Baden, who did not reciprocate. In the summer of 1892, Mossy became engaged to Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse (Fischy), the third son of Frederick William of Hesse, Landgrave of Hesse. As the third 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.”
Mossy and Fischy were married at the Friedenskirche in Potsdam, Prussia on January 25, 1893, on the wedding anniversary of Mossy’s parents, which was bittersweet for Mossy’s widowed mother. Mossy and Fischy 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
- Prince Maximilian of Hesse-Kassel (1894 – 1914), unmarried, killed in action during World War I
- 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
Mossy, who lived until 1954, had a number of family tragedies to endure:
- Prince Maximilian of Hesse-Kassel: second child, killed in action during World War I on October 13, 1914. See Unofficial Royalty: October 1914 – Royalty and World War I
- Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel: eldest child, killed in action during World War I on September 12, 1916. See Unofficial Royalty: September 1916 – Royalty and World War I
- Princess Mafalda of Savoy: wife of her son Prince Philipp of Hesse-Kassel, daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, died in Buchenwald concentration camp on August 27, 1944 during World War II. Philipp was also imprisoned in concentration camps after his fall-out with Hitler
- Prince Christoph of Hesse-Kassel: youngest child, killed in action during World War II on October 7, 1943
- Princess Marie Alexandra of Baden: wife of her son Prince Wolfgang of Hesse-Kassel, killed during an American air-raid on Frankfurt am Main on January 29, 1944 during World War II. Marie Alexandra and seven other women, who were all aid workers, were killed when the cellar, in which they had taken refuge, collapsed under the weight of the building
Mossy and Fischy’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 her 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 on 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 and Mossy was styled as Landgravine of Hesse. Fischy died on May 28, 1940 at the age of 72.
In 1945, at the end of World War II, Schloss Friedrichshof was occupied by American troops and Mossy took refuge in a cottage on the grounds. Her extensive jewel collection, largely inherited from the mother, had been hidden in Schloss Friedrichshof. The jewels were found and smuggled out of Germany by three American officers. The thieves were not imprisoned until August 1951. Only 10% of the stolen jewels were recovered and they were returned to the Hesse family.
Mossy died on January 22, 1954 at the age of 81 at her home. She was buried with her husband at the family cemetery of the House of Hesse at the Schloss Kronberg (formerly Schloss Friedrichshof) in Taunus, Hesse, Germany.