Alfred Duke of Edinburgh, Arranged Marriage, Carol I of Romania, Duchess of Edinburgh, Emperor Alexander II of Russia, Ferdinand of Romania, George of Wales, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Marie of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Victoria Mary (May) of Teck
Marie of Edinburgh (Marie Alexandra Victoria; October 29, 1875 – July 18, 1938) Born into the British royal family, she was titled Princess Marie of Edinburgh at birth. Her parents were Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (later the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia.
Marie of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh was the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was known as the Duke of Edinburgh from 1866 until he succeeded his paternal uncle Ernst II as the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the German Empire. Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia was the fifth child and only surviving daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and his first wife, Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine. She was the younger sister of Alexander III of Russia and the paternal aunt of Russia’s last emperor, Nicholas II.
George of Wales
Marie of Edinburgh grew into a “lovely young woman” with “sparkling blue eyes and silky fair hair”; she was courted by several royal bachelors, including Prince George of Wales, the second son of Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII), and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. As a young man destined to serve in the navy, Prince George served for many years under the command of his uncle, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who was stationed in Malta. There, he grew close to and fell in love with his cousin, Princess Marie of Edinburgh. It was Prince George’s desire to marry Princess Marie.
Marie of Edinburgh
Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh all approved of the match but the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Edinburgh did not. The Princess of Wales disliked the family’s pro-German sentiment. The Danish Royal Family had been strongly anti-German ever since Denmark ‘s war with Prussia in 186?
The Duchess of Edinburgh did not wish for her daughter to remain in England, which she resented. The Duchess of Edinburgh never liked her husbands native land. She felt ill treated there. This dislike of England began when the Duchess, the only daughter of Alexander II of Russia, resented the fact that, as the daughter of an Emperor and wife of a younger son of the British sovereign, she had to yield precedence to George’s mother, the Princess of Wales, whose father, Christian IX, had been a mere minor German prince before being called unexpectedly to the throne of Denmark.
Another reason the Duchess of Edinburgh was against the idea of the marriage between George and Marie was due to the fact that they were first cousins. Although first cousin marriages were acceptable in many European Royal Houses, first cousin unions were not allowed in the Russian Empire because it was against the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church. Thus, when George officially proposed to her, Marie informed him that the marriage was impossible and that he must remain her “beloved chum”. Queen Victoria would later comment that “Georgie lost Missy by waiting & waiting”.
Ferdinand and Marie as Crown Prince and Princess, 1893
Around this time, King Carol I of Romania was looking for a suitable bride for his son and heir, Crown Prince Ferdinand. As a young kingdom King Carol was looking for a princess with strong connections throughout Europe’s Royal Families in order to secure the succession and assure the continuation of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Possibly motivated by the prospect of removing tensions between Russia and Romania on the subject of control over Bessarabia, the Duchess of Edinburgh suggested that Marie meet Crown Prince Ferdinand.
Marie and Ferdinand first became acquainted during a gala dinner and the pair conversed in German. She found him shy but amiable, and their second meeting went just as well. Once the pair were formally engaged, Queen Victoria wrote to another granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, that “[Ferdinand] is nice & the Parents are charming–but the country is very insecure & the immorality of the Society at Bucharest quite awful. Of course the marriage will be delayed some time as Missy won’t be 17 till the end of October!”
Marie in traditional Romanian dress.
German Empress Victoria, Marie’s aunt, and Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, wrote to her daughter, Crown Princess Sophia of Greece, that “Missy is till now quite delighted, but the poor child is so young, how can she guess what is before her?” In late 1892, King Carol visited London in order to meet the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Victoria, who eventually agreed to the marriage and appointed him a Knight of the Garter. On January 10, 1893, Marie and Ferdinand were married at Sigmaringen Castle in three ceremonies: one civil, one Catholic (Ferdinand’s religion) and one Anglican.
On October 11, 1914, Ferdinand and Marie were acclaimed as King and Queen of Romania in the Chamber of Deputies, one day after Ferdinand’s uncle, Carol I, died without surviving issue.
Though rejected Prince George of Wales still sought the hand of an eligible princess.
Victoria Mary of Teck
In November 1891, George’s elder brother, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale and second in line to the British throne after his father the Prince of Wales, became engaged to his second cousin once removed Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. Known as “May” within the family. Her parents were Prince Francis, Duke of Teck (a member of a morganatic, cadet branch of the House of Württemberg), and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a male-line granddaughter of King George III and a first cousin of Queen Victoria.
On January 14, 1892, six weeks after the formal engagement, Albert Victor died of pneumonia, leaving George second in line to the throne, and likely to succeed after his father. George had only just recovered from a serious illness himself, after being confined to bed for six weeks with typhoid fever, the disease that was thought to have killed his grandfather Prince Albert. Queen Victoria still regarded Princess May as a suitable match for her grandson, and George and May grew close during their shared period of mourning.
George and Mary on their wedding day
George was created Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killarney by Queen Victoria on 24 May 1892. A year after Albert Victor’s death, George proposed to May and was accepted. They married on July 6, 1893 at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London. Throughout their lives, they remained devoted to each other. George was, on his own admission, unable to express his feelings easily in speech, but they often exchanged loving letters and notes of endearment.
On the death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901, George’s father ascended the throne as King Edward VII. George then inherited the title of Duke of Cornwall, and for much of the rest of that year, he was known as the Duke of Cornwall and York. Later that year, on November 9, 1901, George was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester by his father.
George V, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Emperor of India.
On 6 May 1910, Edward VII died, and became King George V. George had never cared for double names and therefore disliked his wife’s habit of signing official documents and letters as “Victoria Mary” and insisted she drop one of those names. They both thought she should not be called Queen Victoria, and so she became Queen Mary.