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Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenburg (April 14, 1818 –
January 9, 1907).

Marie was born at Hildburghausen, as Princess Marie of Saxe-Hildburghausen, the eldest daughter of Joseph, the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Hildburghausen and Duchess Amelia of Württemberg.

In 1825, Friedrich IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, died without an heir. His death led to inheritance disputes among the other lines of the Ernestine family.

On November 12, 1826 the decision, from the arbitration of the supreme head of the family, King Friedrich August I of Saxony, resulted in the extensive rearrangement of the Ernestine duchies.

Saxe-Hildburghausen lost the Districts of Königsberg and Sonnefeld to the new Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and the rest of its territories to the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. But the last Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Friedrich, became the new Duke of Saxe-Altenburg.

Oil painting of “Marie, Queen of Hanover and Crown Prince Ernst August” by court painter Carl Oesterley, c. 1846

In 1826, the family moved to Altenburg as a result of a transfer of territories and Marie took the title Princess of Saxe-Altenburg in place of her previous title.

Marriage

On February 18, 1843, Marie married, in Hanover, Georg, Crown Prince of Hanover. Crown Prince Georg was grandson of King George III of the United Kingdom, King of Hanover and Queen Charlotte (Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz). Crown Prince Georg was also a first cousin to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Marie and Georg had three children: Prince Ernst Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover and Duke of Cumberland, Princess Frederica, and Princess Marie.

Queen of Hanover

The Crown Prince, blind since his youth, and his wife became King and Queen of Hanover upon the death of his father, Ernst August, King of Hanover, on 18 November 18, 1851.

Between 1858 and 1867 Georg V had Marienburg Castle built as a birthday present to his wife, named after her. However, he was expelled from his kingdom in 1866 as a result of his support for Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, and on September 20, 1866, the Kingdom was annexed by Prussia.

Nevertheless, Georg never abdicated; he emigrated to Vienna, Austria, while Marie and her daughters remained at Herrenhausen Palace, then moving to Marienburg Castle, which was still under construction, in September 1867.

Marie succeeded in having the Hanoverian crown jewels and other precious items smuggled abroad, before finally leaving for Austria herself. There, the family moved into a villa in Gmunden near Salzburg, which they rented and later acquired.

On September 18, 1872, Queen Marie was godmother to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein. Princess Marie Louise was the youngest daughter of Princess Helena of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg; Queen Victoria & Prince Albert’s third daughter and fifth child.

Georg V died in 1878 in Paris where he had attempted to re-establish his Guelphic Legion, a military unit aimed at a re-conquest of his kingdom. Also being a British Prince, Georg was buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Queen Marie died, some twenty-eight years after her husband, on January 9, 1907, in The Queen’s Villa (Königinvilla) at Gmunden, where she was later buried in a mausoleum that her eldest son had built next to his residence, Cumberland Castle.