Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Alexandrine of Baden, Emperor Alexander II of Russia, Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, Grand Duke Leopold of Baden, Gustaf IV Adolf of Sweden, Marie of Hesse and By Rhine, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
Princess Alexandrine of Baden (Alexandrine Luise Amalie Friederike Elisabeth Sophie; December 6, 1820 – December 20, 1904) was the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as the wife of Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She was the eldest child of Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden, and his wife Princess Sophie of Sweden, daughter of King Gustaf IV Adolf of Sweden and his wife, Frederica of Baden.
In 1838–39, the young bachelor, Tsarevich Alexander of Russia, future Emperor Alexander II is, made the Grand Tour of Europe which was standard for young men of his class at that time. One of the purposes of the tour was to select a suitable bride for himself. His father Emperor Nicholas I of Russia suggested Princess Alexandrine of Baden as a suitable choice, but he was prepared to allow Alexander to choose his own bride, as long as she was not Roman Catholic or a commoner.
Alexandrine already regarded herself as his betrothed, as all the preliminary negotiations had taken place.
In Germany, Alexander made an unplanned stop in Darmstadt. He was reluctant to spend “a possibly dull evening” with their host Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, but he agreed to do so because Vasily Zhukovsky insisted that his entourage was exhausted and needed a rest.
During dinner, he met and was charmed by Princess Marie, the 14-year-old daughter of Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse. He was so smitten that he declared that he would rather abandon the succession than not marry her. He wrote to his father: “I liked her terribly at first sight. If you permit it, dear father, I will come back to Darmstadt after England.” When he left Darmstadt, she gave him a locket that contained a piece of her hair.
Alexander and Marie of Hesse and by Rhine were married April 28, 1841 in the Cathedral Church of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, on the eve of Alexander’s twenty-third birthday. Marie was 17.
At the urging of his brother Prince Albertof Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Hereditary Prince Ernst of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born 1818) began to search for a suitable bride. Albert believed that a wife would be good for his brother: “Chains you will have to bear in any case, and it will certainly be good for you… The heavier and tighter they are, the better for you. A married couple must be chained to one another, be inseparable, and they must live only for one another.” With this advice in mind (although Albert was reprimanded for presuming to counsel his elders), Ernest began searching.
Around this time, Ernst was suffering from a venereal disease brought on by his many affairs; Albert consequently counseled him against marrying until he was fully recovered. He also warned that continued promiscuity could leave Ernst unable to father children. Ernst waited a few years before marrying as a result.
Various candidates were put forward as a possible wife for Ernest. His father wanted him to look to a woman of high rank, such as a Russian grand duchess, for a wife. One possibility was Princess Clémentine of Orléans, a daughter of Louis Philippe I, whom he met while visiting the court at the Tuileries. However, such a marriage would have required his conversion from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism, and consequently nothing came of it. She later married his cousin Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Ernest was also considered by Dowager Queen Maria Christina as a possible husband for her young daughter Isabella II of Spain, and by Queen Victoria for her cousin Princess Augusta of Cambridge.
On 13 May 1842, in Karlsruhe, Ernest married Princess Alexandrine. To the consternation of his brother and sister-in-law Queen Victoria, the marriage failed to “settle down” Ernest. Alexandrine accepted all his faults cheerfully enough, however, and began a fierce devotion to Ernest that became increasingly baffling to the outside world.
Though he gave his consent, Ernst’s father, Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was disappointed that his first son did not do more to advance the concerns of Coburg. The marriage did not produce any issue, though Ernest apparently fathered at least three illegitimate children in later years.