May 21, 1662: Marriage of King Charles II and Infanta Catherine de Braganza of Portugal


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From the Emperor’s Desk: I interrupt my sabbatical to post this short entry concerning my favorite King.

On May 21, 1662 King Charles II and Infanta Catherine de Braganza of Portugal were married at Portsmouth in two ceremonies—a Catholic one conducted in secret, followed by a public Anglican service.

Catherine was born at the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa as the second surviving daughter of Joâo, 8th Duke of Braganza, and his wife, Luisa de Guzmán. Following the Portuguese Restoration War, her father was acclaimed King Joâo IV of Portugal on December 1,1640.

With her father’s new position as one of Europe’s most important monarchs, Portugal then possessing a widespread colonial empire, Catherine became a prime choice for a wife for European royalty, and she was proposed as a bride for Johann of Austria, the duc de Beaufort, Louis XIV of France and Charles II of England.

Be back shortly!



Hello my wonderful readers! My tablet died on the 8th of May. After having to return one and now my new came today I’m taking a little more time off and will return to blogging on Monday the 23rd!

Thanks for your patience!


Today is the anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, scene here with his first cousin King George V of the United Kingdom

May 6, 1954: Death Duchess Cecilie Auguste Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, German Crown Princess and Crown Princess of Prussia


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Duchess Cecilie Auguste Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (September 20, 1886 – May 6, 1954) was the last German Crown Princess and Crown Princess of Prussia as the wife of Wilhelm, German Crown Prince, the son of German Emperor Wilhelm II.

Cecilie was a daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia was the daughter of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia was the fourth son and seventh child of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia.

On August 16, 1857, Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia married Princess Cecilie of Baden (1839–1891), daughter of Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden and Sophie of Sweden.

Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was the son of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and his first wife Princess Augusta Reuss of Köstritz.

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and her husband, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany and Prussia were cousins. Both were descendants of Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of Prussia, and Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (from a collateral branch of the Mecklenburg Royal House).

Cecilie was a granddaughter of Charlotte of Prussia the eldest surviving daughter and fourth child of Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of Prussia, while her husband was a great-grandson of Charlotte’s brother, Wilhelm I, German Emperor and King of Prussia.

She was brought up with simplicity. and her early life was peripatetic, spending summers in Mecklenburg and the rest of the year in the south of France. After the death of her father, she traveled every summer between 1898 and 1904 to her mother’s native Russia.

She spent most of her childhood in Schwerin, at the royal residences of Ludwigslust Palace and the Gelbensande hunting lodge, only a few kilometres from the Baltic Sea coast. Her father suffered badly from asthma and the wet damp cold climate of Mecklenburg was not good for his health.

As a result, Cecilie spent a large amount of time with her family in Cannes in the south of France, favoured at the time by European royalty, including some whom Cecilie met such as Empress Eugénie and her future husband’s great-uncle, Edward VII.

During the winter visit of 1897, Cecilie’s sister, Alexandrine, met her future husband, Crown Prince Christian, later Christian X of Denmark, shortly before the death of their father at the age of 46. After returning to Schwerin, Cecilie spent time with her widowed mother in Denmark.

The wedding of her sister took place in Cannes in April 1898. After the death of her father, she traveled every summer, from 1898 to 1904, visiting her relatives in Russia. Cecilie lived there in Mikhailovskoe on Kronstadt Bay, the country home of her maternal grandfather, Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia.


Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Germany in 1905.

During the wedding festivities of her brother Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Schwerin in June 1904, the 17-year-old Duchess Cecilie got to know her future husband, Wilhelm, German Crown Prince.

German Emperor Wilhelm II had sent his eldest son to the festivities as his personal representative. Taller than most women of her time at 182 centimetres (over 5’11”), Cecilie was as tall as the German Crown Prince. Wilhelm was struck by her great beauty, and her dark hair and eyes.

On September 4, 1904, the young couple celebrated their engagement at the Mecklenburg-Schwerin hunting lodge, Gelbensande. The Emperor as an engagement present had a wooden residence built nearby for the couple. On September 5, the first official photos of the couple were taken.


The wedding of Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the German Crown Prince Wilhelm took place on June 6, 1905 in Berlin. Arriving from Schwerin at Berlin’s Lehrter Station, the future Crown Princess was greeted on the platform with a gift of dark red roses.

She was greeted at Bellevue Palace by the entire German Imperial Family and later made a joyeuse entrée through the Brandenburg Gate to a gun salute in the Tiergarten. Crowds lined the sides of the Unter den Linden as she passed on the way to the Berlin Royal Palace.

Emperor Wilhelm II greeted her at the palace and conducted her to the Knight’s Hall where over fifty guests from different European royal houses awaited the young bride including Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria as well as representatives from Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands. On her wedding day, Emperor Wilhelm II presented his daughter-in-law with the Order of Louise.

The wedding ceremony took place in the Royal Chapel and also the nearby Berlin Cathedral. The royal couple received as wedding presents jewellery, silverware and porcelain. At the wish of the bride, Richard Wagner’s famous wedding march from Lohengrin was played along with music from The Meistersinger from Nuremberg conducted by Richard Strauss.

On her wedding day, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin became Her Imperial and Royal Highness The German Crown Princess and Crown Princess of Prussia. She was expected to one day become German Empress and Queen of Prussia.

German Crown Princess

As German Crown Princess, Cecilie quickly became one of the most beloved members of the German Imperial House. She was known for her elegance and fashion consciousness. It was not long before her fashion style was copied by many women throughout the German Empire.

However, her husband was a womanizer and the marriage was unhappy.

After the fall of the German monarchy, at the end of World War I, Cecilie and her husband lived mostly apart. During the Weimar Republic and the Nazi period, Cecilie lived a private life mainly at Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam.

With the advance of the Soviet troops, she left the Cecilienhof in February 1945, never to return. She settled in Bad Kissingen until 1952 when she moved to an apartment in the Frauenkopf district of Stuttgart. In 1952, she published a book of memoirs. She died two years later, on May 6, 1954, which would have been her husband’s 72nd birthday.

May 6, 1882: Birth of Wilhelm, German Crown Prince, Crown Prince of Prussia


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Wilhelm, German Crown Prince, Crown Prince of Prussia (Friedrich Wilhelm Victor August Ernst; May 6, 1882 – July 20, 1951) was the eldest child of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II, and his consort Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. As Emperor Wilhelm’s heir, he was the last Crown Prince of the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia.

Wilhelm was born on May 6, 1882 as the eldest son of the then Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, and his first wife, Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. He was born in the Marmorpalais of Potsdam in the Province of Brandenburg, where his parents resided until his father acceded to the throne.

When he was born, his great-grandfather Wilhelm I was the German Emperor and King of Prussia while his grandfather Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm was the heir apparent, making Wilhelm third in line to the throne.

His birth sparked an argument between his parents and his grandmother Crown Princess Victoria. Before Wilhelm was born, his grandmother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, had expected to be asked to help find a nurse, but since her son did everything he could to snub her, the future Wilhelm II asked his aunt Princess Helena to help instead. His mother was hurt and his grandmother, Queen Victoria, who was the younger Wilhelm’s great-grandmother, was furious.

Wilhelm became crown prince at the age of six in 1888, when his grandfather Friedrich III died and his father became emperor.

Wilhelm married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (September 20, 1886 – May. 6, 1954) in Berlin on June 6, 1905. After their marriage, the couple lived at the Crown Prince’s Palace in Berlin in the winter and at the Marmorpalais in Potsdam.

Cecilie was the daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1851–1897) and his wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia (1860–1922). Their eldest son, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, was killed fighting for the German Army in France in 1940.

However, Crown Prince Wilhelm was a womanizer and the marriage was unhappy. After the fall of the German monarchy, at the end of World War I, Wilhelm and Cecilie lived mostly apart.

Wilhelm was crown prince for 30 years until the fall of the German Empire on November 9, 1918. During World War I, he commanded the 5th Army from 1914 to 1916 and was commander of the Army Group German Crown Prince for the remainder of the war.

After his return to Germany in 1923, he fought the Weimar Republic and campaigned for the reintroduction of the monarchy and a dictatorship in Germany.

After his plans to become president had been blocked by his father, Wilhelm supported Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, but when Wilhelm realised that Hitler had no intention of restoring the monarchy, their relationship cooled.

Wilhelm became head of the House of Hohenzollern on June 4, 1941 following the death of his father. Although the Monarchy had been abolished, to his supporters and monarchists he had become Wilhelm III, German Emperor and King of Prussia. He held the position until his own death on July 20, 1951. He was succeeded in the headship of the House of Hohenzollern by his second son, Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia.

May 6, 1910: Death of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom


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Edward VII (Albert Edward; November 9, 1841 – May 6, 1910) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from January 22, 1901 until his death in 1910.

Edward was born at 10:48 in the morning on 9 November 9, 1841 in Buckingham Palace. He was the eldest son and second child of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was christened Albert Edward at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on January 25, 1842. He was named Albert after his father and Edward after his maternal grandfather, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn. He was known as Bertie to the royal family throughout his life.

As the eldest son of the British sovereign, he was automatically Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay at birth. As a son of Prince Albert, he also held the titles of Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duke of Saxony. He had the style of Royal Highness as the son of the sovereign.

He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on December 8, 1841, Earl of Dublin on January 17, 1850, a Knight of the Garter on November 8, 1858, and a Knight of the Thistle on May 24, 1867. In 1863, he renounced his succession rights to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in favour of his younger brother Prince Alfred.

During the long reign of his mother, he was largely excluded from political influence and came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite. He travelled throughout Britain performing ceremonial public duties and represented Britain on visits abroad. His tours of North America in 1860 and of the Indian subcontinent in 1875 proved popular successes, but despite public approval, his reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother.

Once widowed, Queen Victoria effectively withdrew from public life. Shortly after Prince Albert’s death, she arranged for Edward to embark on an extensive tour of the Middle East, visiting Egypt, Jerusalem, Damascus, Beirut and Istanbul. The British Government wanted Edward to secure the friendship of Egypt’s ruler, Said Pasha, to prevent French control of the Suez Canal if the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

Edward and Alexandra on their wedding day, 1863

It was the first royal tour on which an official photographer, Francis Bedford, was in attendance. As soon as Edward returned to Britain, preparations were made for his engagement, which was sealed at Laeken in Belgium on September 9, 1862. Edward married Alexandra of Denmark at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 10 March 1863. He was 21; she was 18.

Alexandra was the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel.

The couple established Marlborough House as their London residence and Sandringham House in Norfolk as their country retreat. They entertained on a lavish scale.Their marriage met with disapproval in certain social circles because most of Queen Victoria’s relations were German, and Denmark was at loggerheads with Germany over the territories of Schleswig and Holstein.

When Alexandra’s father inherited the throne of Denmark in November 1863, the German Confederation took the opportunity to invade and annex Schleswig-Holstein. The Queen was of two minds as to whether it was a suitable match, given the political climate. After the marriage, she expressed anxiety about their socialite lifestyle and attempted to dictate to them on various matters, including the names of their children.

Edward was related to nearly every other European monarch, and came to be known as the “uncle of Europe”. German Emperor Wilhelm II and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia were his nephews; Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, Crown Princess Marie of Romania, Crown Princess Sophia of Greece, and Empress Alexandra of Russia were his nieces; King Haakon VII of Norway was both his nephew and his son-in-law; kings Frederik VIII of Denmark and George I of the Hellenes were his brothers-in-law; kings Albert I of Belgium, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, and Carlos I and Manuel II of Portugal were his second cousins.

Edward doted on his grandchildren, and indulged them, to the consternation of their governesses. However, there was one relation whom Edward did not like: Wilhelm II. His difficult relationship with his nephew exacerbated the tensions between Germany and Britain.

Edward had mistresses throughout his married life. He socialised with actress Lillie Langtry; Lady Randolph Churchill; Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick; actress Sarah Bernhardt; noblewoman Lady Susan Vane-Tempest; singer Hortense Schneider; prostitute Giulia Beneni (known as “La Barucci”); wealthy humanitarian Agnes Keyser; and Alice Keppel. At least fifty-five liaisons are conjectured. How far these relationships went is not always clear. Edward always strove to be discreet, but this did not prevent society gossip or press speculation. Edward never acknowledged any illegitimate children. Alexandra was aware of his affairs, and seems to have accepted them.

When Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, Edward became King of the United Kingdom, Emperor of India and, in an innovation, King of the British Dominions. He chose to reign under the name of Edward VII, instead of Albert Edward—the name his mother had intended for him to use—declaring that he did not wish to “undervalue the name of Albert” and diminish the status of his father with whom the “name should stand alone”.

As king, Edward played a role in the modernisation of the British Home Fleet and the reorganisation of the British Army after the Second Boer War of 1899–1902. He re-instituted traditional ceremonies as public displays and broadened the range of people with whom royalty socialised.Edward VII fostered good relations on Britain and other European countries, especially France, for which he was popularly called “Peacemaker”, but his relationship with his nephew, the German Emperor Wilhelm II, remained poor.

The Edwardian era, which covered Edward’s reign and was named after him, coincided with the start of a new century and heralded significant changes in technology and society, including steam turbine propulsion and the rise of socialism.

Edward habitually smoked twenty cigarettes and twelve cigars a day. In 1907, a rodent ulcer, a type of cancer affecting the skin next to his nose, was cured with radium. Towards the end of his life he increasingly suffered from bronchitis. He suffered a momentary loss of consciousness during a state visit to Berlin in February 1909.

In March 1910, he was staying at Biarritz when he collapsed. He remained there to convalesce, while in London Asquith tried to get the Finance Bill passed. The king’s continued ill health was unreported, and he attracted criticism for staying in France while political tensions were so high. On April 27, he returned to Buckingham Palace, still suffering from severe bronchitis. Alexandra returned from visiting her brother, George I of the Hellenes, in Corfu a week later on May 5th.

On May 6, Edward VII suffered several heart attacks, but refused to go to bed, saying, “No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end.” Between moments of faintness, his son the Prince of Wales (shortly to be King George V) told him that his horse, Witch of the Air, had won at Kempton Park that afternoon. The king replied, “Yes, I have heard of it. I am very glad”: his final words.At 11:30 p.m. he lost consciousness for the last time and was put to bed. He died 15 minutes later.

Alexandra refused to allow Edward’s body to be moved for eight days afterwards, though she allowed small groups of visitors to enter his room. On May 11, the late king was dressed in his uniform and placed in a massive oak coffin, which was moved on May 14, to the throne room, where it was sealed and lay in state, with a guardsman standing at each corner of the bier.Despite the time that had elapsed since his death, Alexandra noted the King’s body remained “wonderfully preserved”. On the morning of May 17, the coffin was placed on a gun carriage and drawn by black horses to Westminster Hall, with the new king, his family and Edward’s favourite dog, Caesar, walking behind.

Following a brief service, the royal family left, and the hall was opened to the public; over 400,000 people filed past the coffin over the next two days. As Barbara Tuchman noted in The Guns of August, his funeral, held on May 20, 1910, marked “the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last.” A royal train conveyed the king’s coffin from London to Windsor Castle, where Edward was buried at St George’s Chapel.

When Edward VII died the British Government was in the midst of a constitutional crisis that was resolved the following year by the Parliament Act 1911, which restricted the power of the unelected House of Lords.

May 5, 1747: Birth of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor


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Leopold II (Peter Leopold Josef Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard; May 5, 1747 – March 1, 1792) was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Archduke of Austria from 1790 to 1792, and Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 to 1790.

He was a son of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Archduchess of Austria in her own right and her husband, Holy Roman Emperor Franz I.

Leopold was also and the brother of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and Navarre as the wife of King Louis XVI of France and Navarre; Maria Carolina of Austria, Queen of Naples and Sicily as the wife of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies; Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma by her marriage to Ferdinand, Duke of Parma; and Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany (left) with his brother Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor

Leopold was a moderate proponent of enlightened absolutism. He granted the Academy of Georgofili his protection. Despite his brief reign, he is highly regarded. The historian Paul W. Schroeder called him “one of the most shrewd and sensible monarchs ever to wear a crown”.

Unusually for his time, he opposed capital punishment and abolished it in Tuscany in 1786 during his rule there, making it the first nation in modern history to do so.

As his parents’ third son, he was initially selected for a clerical career, he received education with focus on theology.

In 1753, he was engaged to Maria Beatrice d’Este, heiress to the Duchy of Modena and the eldest child of two monarchs, Ercole III d’Este, Duke of Modena and Maria Teresa Cybo-Malaspina, reigning duchess of Massa and princess of Carrara.

As heiress to four states (Modena, Reggio, Massa and Carrara), she was a very attractive wedding partner. Empress Maria Theresa sought to arrange a marriage between Maria Beatrice and Archduke Leopold, but this never materialised. Instead she married Leopold’s brother, Archduke Ferdinand Charles bof Austria, in a union through which the Austrians aimed to expand their influence in Italy.

Upon the early death of his older brother Archduke Charles in 1761, the family decided that Leopold was going to succeed his father as Duke of Tuscany. Tuscany had been envisioned and designated as a Secundogeniture, a territory and title bestowed upon the second born son, which was greater than an Appanage.

Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain

On August 5, 1765 Leopold married the Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain, daughter of Carlos III of Spain and Maria Amalia of Saxony. Upon the death of his father, Franz on August 18, 1765, he became Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Leopold, during his government in Tuscany, had shown a speculative tendency to grant his subjects a constitution. When he succeeded to the Austrian lands he began by making large concessions to the interests offended by his brother’s innovations.

He recognized the Estates of his different dominions as “the pillars of the monarchy”, pacified the Hungarians and Bohemians, and divided the insurgents in the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium) by means of concessions. When these failed to restore order, he marched troops into the country and re-established his own authority, and at the same time the historic franchises of the Flemings.

Young Leopold as the Grand Duke of Tuscany

Yet he did not surrender any part that could be retained of what Maria Theresa and Joseph had done to strengthen the hands of the state. He continued, for instance, to insist that no papal bull could be published in his dominions without his consent (placetum regium).

One of the harshest actions Leopold took to placate the noble communities of the various Habsburg domains was to issue a decree on May 9, 1790 that forced thousands of Bohemian serfs freed by his brother Joseph back into servitude.

Leopold lived for barely two years after his accession as Holy Roman Emperor, and during that period he was hard pressed by peril from west and east alike. The growing revolutionary disorders in France endangered the life of his sister Marie Antoinette, the queen of Louis XVI, and also threatened his own dominions with the spread of subversive agitation. His sister sent him passionate appeals for help, and he was pestered by the royalist émigrés, who were intriguing to bring about armed intervention in France.

From the east he was threatened by the aggressive ambition of Empress Catherine II of Russia and by the unscrupulous policy of Prussia. Catherine would have been delighted to see Austria and Prussia embark on a crusade in the cause of kings against the French Revolution.

While they were busy beyond the Rhine, she would have annexed what remained of Poland and made conquests against the Ottoman Empire. Leopold II had no difficulty in seeing through the rather transparent cunning of the Russian empress, and he refused to be misled.

To his sister, he gave good advice and promises of help if she and her husband could escape from Paris. The émigrés who followed him pertinaciously were refused audience, or when they forced themselves on him, were peremptorily denied all help.

Leopold was too purely a politician not to be secretly pleased at the destruction of the power of France and of her influence in Europe by her internal disorders. Within six weeks of his accession, he displayed his contempt for France’s weakness by practically tearing up the treaty of alliance made by Maria Theresa in 1756 and opening negotiations with Great Britain to impose a check on Russia and Prussia.

Leopold put pressure on Great Britain by threatening to cede his part of the Low Countries to France. Then, when sure of British support, he was in a position to baffle the intrigues of Prussia. A personal appeal to King Friedrich Wilhelm II led to a conference between them at Reichenbach in July 1790, and to an arrangement which was in fact a defeat for Prussia: Leopold’s coronation as king of Hungary on November 11, 1790, preceded by a settlement with the Diet in which he recognized the dominant position of the Magyars.

Leopold II. Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Archduke of Austria, and Grand Duke of Tuscany

He had already made an eight months’ truce with the Turks in September, which prepared the way for the termination of the war begun by Joseph II. The pacification of his eastern dominions left Leopold free to re-establish order in Belgium and to confirm friendly relations with Britain and the Netherlands.

During 1791, the emperor remained increasingly preoccupied with the affairs of France. In January, he had to dismiss the Count of Artois (afterwards Charles X of France) in a very peremptory way. His good sense was revolted by the folly of the French émigrés, and he did his utmost to avoid being entangled in the affairs of that country.

The insults inflicted on Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, however, at the time of their attempted flight to Varennes in June, stirred his indignation, and he made a general appeal in the Padua Circular to the sovereigns of Europe to take common measures in view of events which “immediately compromised the honour of all sovereigns, and the security of all governments.” Yet he was most directly interested in negotiations with Turkey, which in June led to a final peace, the Treaty of Sistova being signed in August 1791.

On August 25, 1791, he met King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia at Pillnitz Castle, near Dresden, and they drew up the Declaration of Pillnitz, stating their readiness to intervene in France if and when their assistance was called for by the other powers.

The declaration was a mere formality, for, as Leopold knew, neither Russia nor Britain was prepared to act, and he endeavored to guard against the use which he foresaw the émigrés would try to make of it. In face of the reaction in France to the Declaration of Pillnitz, the intrigues of the émigrés, and attacks made by the French revolutionists on the rights of the German princes in Alsace, Leopold continued to hope that intervention might not be required.

When Louis XVI swore to observe the constitution of September 1791, the emperor professed to think that a settlement had been reached in France. The attacks on the rights of the German princes on the left bank of the Rhine, and the increasing violence of the parties in Paris which were agitating to bring about war, soon showed, however, that this hope was vain.

Leopold meant to meet the challenge of the revolutionists in France with dignity and temper, however the effect of the Declaration of Pillnitz was to contribute to the radicalization of their political movement.

Mozart’s opera La clemenza di Tito was commissioned by the Estates of Bohemia for the festivities that accompanied Leopold’s coronation as king of Bohemia in Prague on September 6, 1791.

Leopold died suddenly in Vienna, in March 1792.

His mother Empress Maria Theresa was the last Habsburg. His brother Joseph II died without any surviving children, but Leopold in turn had also 16 children, just like his mother, and became the founder of the main line of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.

The eldest of Leopold II’s eight sons being his successor, Emperor Franz II, the last Holy Roman Emperor and first Emperor of Austria. Some of his other sons were prominent personages in their day. Among them were: Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany; Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen, a celebrated soldier; Archduke Johann of Austria, also a soldier; Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary; and Archduke Rainer, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia.

May 4, 1814: King Fernando VII of Spain Abolishes the Constitution


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Fernando VII (October 14, 1784 – September 29, 1833) was the King of Spain during the early- to mid-19th century. He reigned over the Spanish Kingdom in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death in 1833. He was known to his supporters as el Deseado (the Desired) and to his detractors as el Rey Felón (the Felon King).

Fernando VII was born in Madrid at El Escorial, the eldest surviving son of King Carlos IV of Spain and Maria Luisa of Parma, the youngest daughter of Filippo, Duke of Parma and Louise Élisabeth of France.

Louise Élisabeth of France the eldest daughter of King Louis XV of France and Maria Leszczyńska and the elder twin of Anne Henriette de France.

Filippo, Duke of Parma was the second son of King Felipe V of Spain and his wife, Elisabeth Farnese.

Fernando VII spent his youth as heir apparent to the Spanish throne. Carlos IV detested his son and heir Fernando, who led the unsuccessful El Escorial Conspiracy and later forced his father, Carlos IV to abdicate after the Tumult of Aranjuez on March 19, 1808.

Fernando VII’s first reign lasted from March 19, 1808 until May 6 of the same year when Napoleon Bonaparte, forced Fernando VII to abdicate, paving the way for Napoleon to place his older brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne of Spain.

Five years later after experiencing serious setbacks on many fronts, Napoleon agreed to acknowledge Fernando VII as king of Spain on December 11, 1813 and signed the Treaty of Valençay, so that the king could return to Spain.

On March 24, 1814 the French handed Fernando over to the Spanish Army in Girona, and thus began his procession towards Madrid. During this process and in the following months, he was encouraged by conservatives and the Church hierarchy to reject the Constitution.

Fernando soon found that in the intervening years a new world had been born of foreign invasion and domestic revolution. Spain was no longer the absolute monarchy he had relinquished six years earlier. Instead he was now asked to rule under the liberal Constitution of 1812. Before being allowed to enter Spanish soil, Ferdinand had to guarantee the liberals that he would govern on the basis of the Constitution, but only gave lukewarm indications he would do so.

On May 4, he ordered the Constitution abolished and on May 10 had the liberal leaders responsible for the Constitution arrested. Fernando justified his actions by claiming that the Constitution had been made by a Cortes illegally assembled in his absence, without his consent and without the traditional form. (It had met as a unicameral body, instead of in three chambers representing the three estates: the clergy, the nobility and the cities.)

Fernando initially promised to convene a traditional Cortes, but never did so, thereby reasserting the Bourbon doctrine that sovereign authority resided in his person only.

A revolt in 1820 led by Rafael del Riego in which the King was quickly taken prisoner. .

In the spring of 1823, the restored Bourbon French King Louis XVIII of France invaded Spain, “invoking the God of St. Louis, for the sake of preserving the throne of Spain to a fellow descendant of Henri IV of France, and of reconciling that fine kingdom with Europe.” In May of 1823, the revolutionary party moved Fernando to Cádiz, where he continued to make promises of constitutional amendment until he was free.

Fernando VII was eventually freed after the Battle of Trocadero. The liberated Fernando turned on the liberals and constitutionalists with fury. The last ten years of reign (sometimes referred to as the Ominous Decade) saw the restoration of absolutism, the re-establishment of traditional university programs and the suppression of any opposition.

Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, and the country entered into a large-scale civil war upon his death. His political legacy has remained contested since his passing, with some historians regarding him as incompetent, despotic, and short-sighted.

After Ferdinand’s death in 1833, the 1812 Constitution was in force again briefly in 1836 and 1837, while the Constitution of 1837 was being drafted. Since 1812, Spain has had a total of seven constitutions; the current one has been in force since 1978.

May 3, 1870: Birth of Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg


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Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (Victoria Louise Sophia Augusta Amelia Helena; May 3, 1870 – March 13, 1948) was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. From 1917 her name was simply Princess Helena Victoria.

Princess Helena Victoria (always known to her family as Thora) was born at Frogmore House, near Windsor Castle. Her father was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the third son of Christian August II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
and Countess Louise af Danneskjold-Samsøe.

Her mother was Princess Helena, the fifth child and third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her parents resided in Britain from marriage.

She was baptised in the private chapel at Windsor Castle on June 20, 1870. Her godparents were Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Cambridge (former Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel), Princess Louise, Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, Prince Valdemar of Denmark, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, Princess Louise Auguste of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Caroline Amelie of Schleswig-Holstein (the latter two represented by the Duchess of Roxburghe).

She was a bridesmaid at the 1885 wedding of her maternal aunt Princess Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg and also at the wedding of her cousins the Duke and Duchess of York (future George V and Queen Mary) in 1893.

She spent most of her childhood at Cumberland Lodge, her father’s residence as Ranger of Windsor Great Park. Known to her family as “Thora”, or sometimes “Snipe”, in reference to her sharp facial features, formally she used the names “Helena Victoria” from among her string of six given names.

First World War

As a male-line granddaughter of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Helena Victoria would have been styled Serene Highness (Durchlaucht) in the German Empire.

In May 1866, Queen Victoria had conferred the higher style of Highness upon any children to be born of the marriage of Princess Helena and Prince Christian, although the children were to remain Prince or Princess of Schleswig-Holstein.

In June 1917, a notice appeared in the Court Circular that a Royal Warrant was to be prepared by George V dispensing with his cousins’ use of the “Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg” part of their titles.

However no warrant was issued, nor were they formally granted the titles of Princesses of Great Britain and Ireland nor of the United Kingdom in their own right.

In July 1917, King George V changed the name of the British royal family to the House of Windsor. He also relinquished, on behalf of himself and his numerous cousins who were British subjects, the use of their German titles, styles, and surnames. Princess Helena Victoria and her younger sister, Princess Marie Louise, thereupon ceased to use the territorial designation “of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.”

Instead, they became known simply as “Her Highness Princess Helena Victoria” and “Her Highness Princess Marie Louise”. Although the two had borne German titles, their upbringing and domicile were entirely English.

Later life

Princess Helena Victoria never married. She followed her mother’s example in working for various charitable organizations, most notably YMCA, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and Princess Christian’s Nursing Home at Windsor. During World War I, she founded the YWCA Women’s Auxiliary Force. As its president, she visited British troops in France and obtained the permission of the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, to arrange entertainments for them.

Between the world wars, she and her sister, Princess Marie Louise, were enthusiastic patrons of music at Schomberg House, their London residence. After a German air raid damaged the house in 1940, the two princesses moved to Fitzmaurice Place, Berkeley Square.

In ill health and a wheelchair user after World War II, Princess Helena Victoria made one of her last major appearances at the November 20, 1947 wedding of her first cousin twice removed Princess Elizabeth, to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.

Princess Helena Victoria died at Fitzmaurice Place, Berkeley Square. Her funeral took place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor and she was buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, Windsor Great Park. She died at the age of 77, the same age at which her mother, Princess Helena, had also died.

May 2nd, 1816: Marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Conclusion


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Negotiations over the marriage contract took several months, with Charlotte insisting that she not be required to leave Britain. The diplomats had no desire to see the two thrones united, and so the agreement stated that Britain would go to the couple’s oldest son, while the second son would inherit the Netherlands; if there was only one son, the Netherlands would pass to the German branch of the House of Orange.

On June 10, 1814, Charlotte signed the marriage contract. Charlotte had become besotted with a Prussian prince whose identity is uncertain; according to Charles Greville, it was Prince August, although historian Arthur Aspinall disagreed, thinking that her love interest was the younger Prince Friedrich.

August hi of Prussia (September 19, 1779 – July 19, 1843) was a Prussian royal and general and was the youngest son of Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia and Margravine Elisabeth Louise of Brandenburg-Schwedt. He was also the brother of King Friedrich II the Great of Prussia.

Her suitor Prince Friedrich of Prussia (October 30, 1794 – July 27, 1863) was a Prussian prince and military officer, and the son of Prince Ludwig Charles of Prussia and Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, later Queen of Hanover, nephew of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and stepson of Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover.

Princess Charlotte of Wales was interested in Friedrich in 1814 and hoped to marry him. The pair met several times. However, the Prince suddenly got engaged to the daughter of Alexius Friedrich Christian, Duke of Anhalt-Bernburg, Princess Louise of Anhalt-Bernburg, whom he married on November 21, 1817 at Ballenstedt.

At a party at the Pulteney Hotel in London, Charlotte met a Lieutenant-General in the Russian cavalry, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The Princess invited Leopold to call on her, an invitation he took up, remaining for three quarters of an hour, and writing a letter to the Prince Regent apologising for any indiscretion. This letter impressed George very much, although he did not consider the impoverished Leopold as a possible suitor for his daughter’s hand.

Leopold (December 16, 1790 – December 10, 1865) was the youngest son of Duke Franz of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Leopold took a commission in the Imperial Russian Army and fought against Napoleon after French troops overran Saxe-Coburg during the Napoleonic Wars. After Napoleon’s defeat, Leopold moved to the United Kingdom.

The Princess of Wales opposed the match between her daughter and the Prince of Orange, and had great public support: when Charlotte went out in public, crowds would urge her not to abandon her mother by marrying the Prince of Orange.

Charlotte informed the Prince of Orange that if they wed, her mother would have to be welcome in their home—a condition sure to be unacceptable to the Prince Regent.When the Prince of Orange would not agree, Charlotte broke off the engagement. Her father’s response was to order that Charlotte remain at her residence at Warwick House (adjacent to Carlton House) until she could be conveyed to Cranbourne Lodge at Windsor, where she would be allowed to see no one except the Queen.

When told of this, Charlotte raced out into the street. A man, seeing her distress from a window, helped the inexperienced Princess find a hackney cab, in which she was conveyed to her mother’s house. Caroline was visiting friends and hastened back to her house, while Charlotte summoned Whig politicians to advise her.

A number of family members also gathered, including her uncle, the Duke of York—with a warrant in his pocket to secure her return by force if need be. After lengthy arguments, the Whigs advised her to return to her father’s house, which she did the next day.

Isolation and Courtship

The story of Charlotte’s flight and return was soon the talk of the town; Henry Brougham, a former MP and future Whig Lord Chancellor, reported “All are against the Prince”, and the Opposition press made much of the tale of the runaway Princess. Despite an emotional reconciliation with his daughter, the Prince Regent soon had her conveyed to Cranbourne Lodge, where her attendants were under orders never to let her out of their sight.

She was able to smuggle a note out to her favourite uncle, Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex. The Duke responded by questioning the Tory Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, in the House of Lords.

He asked whether Charlotte was free to come and go, whether she was allowed to go to the seaside as doctors had recommended for her in the past, and now that she was eighteen, whether the government planned to give her a separate establishment. Liverpool evaded the questions, and the Duke was summoned to Carlton House and castigated by the Prince Regent, who never spoke with his brother again.

Despite her isolation, Charlotte found life at Cranbourne Lodge surprisingly agreeable, and slowly became reconciled to her situation. At the end of July 1814, the Prince Regent visited Charlotte in her isolation and informed her that her mother was about to leave England for an extended stay on the Continent.This upset Charlotte, but she did not feel that anything she might say could change her mother’s mind, and was further aggrieved by her mother’s casualness in the leavetaking, “for God knows how long, or what events may occur before we meet again”. Charlotte would never see her mother again.

In late August, Charlotte was permitted to go to the seaside. She had asked to go to fashionable Brighton, but the Prince Regent refused, sending her instead to Weymouth. As the Princess’s coach stopped along along the way, large, friendly crowds gathered to see her; according to Holme, “her affectionate welcome shows that already people thought of her as their future Queen”.

On arrival in Weymouth, there were illuminations with a centrepiece “Hail Princess Charlotte, Europe’s Hope and Britain’s Glory”. Charlotte spent time exploring nearby attractions, shopping for smuggled French silks, and from late September taking a course of heated seawater baths. She was still infatuated with her Prussian, and hoped in vain that he would declare his interest in her to the Prince Regent.

If he did not do so, she wrote to a friend, she would “take the next best thing, which was a good tempered man with good sence [sic] … that man is the P of S-C” [Prince of Saxe-Coburg, i.e. Leopold]. In mid-December, shortly before leaving Weymouth, she “had a very sudden and great shock” when she received news that her Prussian had formed another attachment. In a long talk after Christmas dinner, father and daughter made up their differences.

In the early months of 1815, Charlotte fixed on Leopold (or as she termed him, “the Leo”) as a spouse. Her father refused to give up hope that Charlotte would agree to marry the Prince of Orange. However, Charlotte wrote, “No arguments, no threats, shall ever bend me to marry this detested Dutchman.”Faced with the united opposition of the Royal Family, George finally gave in and dropped the idea of marriage to the Prince of Orange, who became engaged to Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia that summer.

Charlotte contacted Leopold through intermediaries, and found him receptive, but with Napoleon renewing the conflict on the Continent, Leopold was with his regiment fighting.In July, shortly before returning to Weymouth, Charlotte formally requested her father’s permission to marry Leopold. The Prince Regent replied that with the unsettled political situation on the Continent, he could not consider such a request.

To Charlotte’s frustration, Leopold did not come to Britain after the restoration of peace, even though he was stationed in Paris, which she deemed to be only a short journey from Weymouth or London.In January 1816, the Prince Regent invited his daughter to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, and she pleaded with him to allow the marriage.

On her return to Windsor, she wrote her father, “I no longer hesitate in declaring my partiality in favour of the Prince of Coburg—assuring you that no one will be more steady or consistent in this their present & last engagement than myself.”George gave in and summoned Leopold, who was in Berlin en route to Russia, to Britain. Leopold arrived in Britain in late February 1816, and went to Brighton to be interviewed by the Prince Regent. After Charlotte was invited as well, and had dinner with Leopold and her father, she wrote:

I find him charming, and go to bed happier than I have ever done yet in my life … I am certainly a very fortunate creature, & have to bless God. A Princess never, I believe, set out in life (or married) with such prospects of happiness, real domestic ones like other people.

The Prince Regent was impressed by Leopold, and told his daughter that Leopold “had every qualification to make a woman happy”. Charlotte was sent back to Cranbourne on March 2, leaving Leopold with the Prince Regent.

On 14 March, an announcement was made in the British House of Commons to great acclaim, with both parties relieved to have the drama of the Princess’s romances at an end. Parliament voted through a bill naturalising Leopold as a British citizen, awarded him £50,000 per year (equivalent to £3.91 million in 2020), purchased Claremont House for the couple, and allowed them a generous single payment to set up house.

George also contemplated making Leopold a Royal Duke, the Duke of Kendal, though the plan was abandoned due to government fears that it would draw Leopold into party politics and suggestions that becoming a ‘mere duchess’ would be viewed as a demotion for Charlotte.

Fearful of a repetition of the Orange fiasco, George limited Charlotte’s contact with Leopold; when Charlotte returned to Brighton, he allowed them to meet only at dinner, and never let them be alone together.

The marriage ceremony was set for May 2, 1816. On the wedding day, huge crowds filled London; the wedding participants had great difficulties in travelling. At nine o’clock in the evening in the Crimson Drawing Room at Carlton House, with Leopold dressing for the first time as a British General (the Prince Regent wore the uniform of a Field Marshal), the couple were married.Charlotte’s wedding dress cost over £10,000 (equivalent to £782,579 in 2020).

The only mishap was during the ceremony, when Charlotte was heard to giggle when the impoverished Leopold promised to endow her with all his worldly goods.MarriageThe couple honeymooned at Oatlands Palace, the Duke of York’s residence in Surrey. Neither was well and the house was filled with the Yorks’ dogs and the odour of animals. Nevertheless, the Princess wrote that Leopold was “the perfection of a lover”.

Two days after the marriage, they were visited by the Prince Regent at Oatlands; he spent two hours describing the details of military uniforms to Leopold, which according to Charlotte “is a great mark of the most perfect good humour”.

Princess Charlotte and her husband returned to London for the social season, and when they attended the theatre, they were invariably treated to wild applause from the audience and the singing of “God Save the King” from the company.

The couple lived initially at Camelford House on Park Lane, and then at Marlborough House on Pall Mall.

May 2nd, 1816: Marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Part I


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Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (January 7, 1796 – November 6, 1817) was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV), and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Had she outlived both her grandfather George III and her father, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died at the age of 21, predeceasing them both.

Charlotte’s parents disliked each other from before their arranged marriage and soon separated. The Prince of Wales left most of Charlotte’s care to governesses and servants, only allowing her limited contact with Caroline, who eventually left the country.

Her father George, Prince of Wales and later The Prince Regent, had been raised under strict conditions, which he had rebelled against. Despite this, he attempted to put his daughter, who had the appearance of a grown woman at age 15, under even stricter conditions. He gave her a clothing allowance insufficient for an adult princess, and insisted that if she attended the opera, she was to sit in the rear of the box and leave before the end.

With the Prince Regent busy with affairs of state, Charlotte was required to spend most of her time at Windsor with her maiden aunts. Bored, she soon became infatuated with her cousin George FitzClarence, illegitimate son of Prince William, Duke of Clarence.

FitzClarence was, shortly thereafter, called to Brighton to join his regiment, and Charlotte’s gaze fell on Lieutenant Charles Hesse of the Light Dragoons, reputedly the illegitimate son of Charlotte’s uncle, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.

Hesse and Charlotte had a number of clandestine meetings. Lady de Clifford feared the Prince Regent’s rage should they be found out, but Princess Caroline was delighted by her daughter’s passion. She did everything that she could to encourage the relationship, even allowing them time alone in a room in her apartments.

These meetings ended when Hesse left to join the British forces in Spain. Most of the Royal Family, except the Prince Regent, were aware of these meetings, but did nothing to interfere, disapproving of the way George was treating his daughter.

In 1813, with the tide of the Napoleonic Wars having turned firmly in Britain’s favour, George began to seriously consider the question of Charlotte’s marriage.

The Prince Regent and his advisers decided on Willem, Hereditary Prince of Orange, son and heir-apparent of Prince Willem VI of Orange. Such a marriage would increase British influence in Northwest Europe. Willem made a poor impression on Charlotte when she first saw him, at George’s birthday party on August 12, when he became intoxicated, as did the Prince Regent himself and many of the guests.

Although no one in authority had spoken to Charlotte about the proposed marriage, she was quite familiar with the plan through palace whispers. Dr. Henry Halford was detailed to sound out Charlotte about the match; he found her reluctant, feeling that a future British queen should not marry a foreigner.

Believing that his daughter intended to marry Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the Prince Regent saw his daughter and verbally abused both her and Gloucester. According to Charlotte, “He spoke as if he had the most improper ideas of my inclinations. I see that he is compleatly [sic] poisoned against me, and that he will never come round.”

She wrote to Earl Grey for advice; he suggested she play for time. The matter soon leaked to the papers, which wondered whether Charlotte would marry “the Orange or the Cheese” (a reference to Gloucester cheese), “Slender Billy” [of Orange] or “Silly Billy”.

The Prince Regent attempted a gentler approach, but failed to convince Charlotte who wrote that “I could not quit this country, as Queen of England still less” and that if they wed, the Prince of Orange would have to “visit his frogs solo”.

However, on December 12, the Prince Regent arranged a meeting between Charlotte and the Prince of Orange at a dinner party, and asked Charlotte for her decision. She stated that she liked what she had seen so far, which George took as an acceptance, and quickly called in the Prince of Orange to inform him.