Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Natural child: Valerie Marie zu Schleswig-Holstein

all images  Marlene A Eilers Koenig collection



My book, Queen Victoria's Descendants, was the first to include complete genealogical information about Valerie Marie zu Schleswig-Holstein, the natural daughter of Duke Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, a grandson of  Queen Victoria.  I was fortunate to have the assistance of the late HH Prince Friedrich Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein and the Duke of Arenberg's archivist, both of whom provided me with documents as well as other contacts to fill in the missing pieces. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation (and disinformation), including one opportunist who created a fake noblewoman, stating she was the mother of Valerie Marie.  For the record, her mother's name is not known. All we know  -- according to Duke Albert's letter to Valerie  -- was that she was a "lady of very high rank."

Valerie Marie was mentioned in several genealogical references but the information was incomplete until I was able to obtain the missing information, including the details on her first marriage, when she was able to change her surname, and even about her death.

In a letter to me in August 1980,  Prince Friedrich Ferdinand said that the Duke of Arenberg had made a similar request more than 20 years earlier.   Here is the text from my book:

"Like his cousin, the Duke of Albany, Prince Albert transferred his residence to Germany when it became clear that the marriage of his cousin Duke Ernst Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg would be childless.  He succeeded to the Augustenburg estates upon his cousin's death in 1921.


Prince Albert never revealed to anyone, not even his daughter, the name of her mother, although he did tell his two sisters that the woman was of high birth.

Born in a part of Hungary now in Czechoslovakia in 1900, Valerie Marie was raised by a Jewish family named Schwalb, whose name she bore until her first marriage to lawyer Johann Wagner.  In 1939, she acquired by registration the surname zu Schleswig-Holstein and her birth registration was also changed to include the fact that Prince Albert was her natural father.

Valerie Marie knew nothing of her parentage until she received a letter from Albert in 1931 only a few days before his death.

The change of her name was necessary because Valerie Marie was engaged to marry Duke Engelbert-Charles of Arenberg. As her maiden name was of Jewish origin, Valerie Marie was thought to be Jewish, and under Nazi law, mixed marriages were not permitted.  Although her foster parents were Jewish, Valerie Marie was a Roman Catholic.

In July 1938, Valerie Marie's two aunts, Princess Helena Victoria and Princess Marie Louise co-signed a letter acknowledging their niece and attesting to the fact that Valerie Marie was not Jewish.

"We hereby acknowledge and declare that Valerie Wagner is the illegitimate daughter of our brother His Highness Duke Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, who died on the 27th of April 1931.  We are entirely ignorant of the names and identity of Valerie Wagner's mother, but we understand that she was a lady of very high rank.  Our brother in order to shield this lady's honour never divulged her name to anyone.  Valerie Wagner's foster parents, in whose name she was registered, were of Jewish descent, but we desire to emphasize the fact that Valerie Wagner herself is not of Jewish birth.  Our brother, the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, in a personal letter to Valerie Wagner, deplored the fact that she had been entrusted to the care of a family of a different race and faith to her own."

Valerie Marie's first marriage ended in divorce in 1938 and was annulled by the Catholic Church two years later.  She married the Duke of Arenberg in a civil ceremony in Berlin in 1939.  A Roman Catholic ceremony was performed in October 1940 following the annulment.

In April 1945, the American 9th Army requisitioned the Arenbergs' 300-room castle on the Rhine river.  The Duchess was indignant when the officers asked her to give up most of the rooms in the 200-year-old castle.  `I wouldn't put servants in the quarters the Americans asked me to live in.  Imagine me getting along in fourteen rooms,' she told an Associated Press reporter.

The Duchess of Arenberg died in 1953.  Her aunt, Princess Marie Louise, attended Valerie Marie's funeral at Enghien, Belgium.  Born illegitimate, her mother's name unknown, Valerie Marie died a duchess with the style of Serene Highness."

Princesses Helena Victoria and Marie Louise's notarized statement was written on  July 26, 1938.  Valerie Marie had divorced her first husband, Ernst Johan Wagner in 1938.  They had married in civil and Roman Catholic ceremonies, the divorced applied to the civil marriage.  The Roman Catholic wedding was annulled.  Valerie Marie was engaged to Duke Engelberg-Charles of Arenberg, but the German authorities were not going to allow the marriage to take place as Valerie Marie had been raised by a Jewish family named Schwalb.  She was not Jewish but Roman Catholic.  Valerie Marie had to prove to the German authorities that she was not Jewish.

 When she married Ernst Johann Wagner, MD  in 1935, she used the name, Valerie Marie Schwalb. When the marriage was annulled in October 1940, she used the name Schleswig-Holstein, although she was using Schwalb when she was granted a civil divorce in 1938.

Valerie Marie was born on April 3, 1900, at Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas, Hungary.  Her birth was registered the following day: Valerie Maria Schwalb, girl Roman Catholic.

(Liptovsky was a part of Hungary until 1920, then Chechoslovakia until 1938, when it became Slovakia, from 1945 until January 1, 1993, again in Czechoslovakia, and now Liptovský Mikuláš in Slovakia).


Duke Albert's letter to Valerie Marie was written on April 15, 1931.  He died on April 27.  Valerie Marie did not change her birth registration until May 5, 1939.  This was done at the District office in Liptovsky Svata Mikulas.  The name Valerie Maria Schwalb was erased and replaced with "Natural father of the child is Albert Herzog zu Schleswig-Holstein.  As the name of the girl the family name is specified as zu Schleswig-Holstein."








the official letter from Princesses Helena Victoria and Marie Louise

During the second world war, Valerie Marie and her husband, Engelbert-Charles, had lived in Germany, although  Prince Engelbert-Charles was a Belgian national.  In March  1945, the U.S. 2nd Armored division captured the family's 200-year-old castle, Schloss Nordkirchen in Westphalia. The Duke claimed that he was not a Nazi, and had not fought in the war, but the American military noticed an autographed photo of Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister. 

He also told the American authorities that he had met Hermann Goering once.  This happened in 1939 when he married the daughter of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein.  As she was part English, the British Ambassador Neville Henderson had introduced them to Goering, who "had arranged the necessary papers for them."

Living with Valerie and Engelbert Charles was the prince's cousin, Karl Rudolf, the Duke of Croy, whose home had been destroyed by a bomb ten days earlier.  (The Duke was married four times.  His first wife was American, Nancy Leishman.  They divorced in 1922.)

Valerie Marie never met her father, but she did have a relationship with her two aunts, which lead to meeting other cousins, including Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, who lived in exile in Switzerland.

"My mother loved "the Schleswig-Holstein bastard" who smothered her with lovely presents," Infanta Maria Cristina of Spain wrote to me in July 1988.  "But Aunt Louie [Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein] wasn't amused by this intimacy between the cousins.  She was always known as the bastard.  Poor Valerie,  very smart, pretty & fickle.  She killed herself one night with every pill she found.  Depression I suppose and an impossible love.  It was a general shock.  Her father must have been a crashing pompous bore!"

https://royalmusingsblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2009/04/duke-albert-dies-at-62-grandson-of.html


If you liked this article:

New to my collection

These cards were a gift to me by a friend .. lovely to add to my collection.  Thank you so much.


Queen Elena of Italy

Queen Elena







Vittorio Emanuele, Maria Beatrice, Maria Pia and Maria Gabriella, children of King Umberto





Monday, May 25, 2020

Interview with HM Margareta, Custodian of the Crown

@HM Margareta (all photos)

Thank to HM Margareta, Custodian of the Crown, for agreeing to an interview and in providing the photographs..  As many of my readers know, in January I was in Bucharest for four days to attend the celebrations honoring Her Majesty's first visit to Romania and the establishment of her foundation

Where are you staying while staying in Săvârsin during the quarantine?

Săvârsin House is our home during the mid-summer months and winter celebrations – Christmas and New Year mainly. But now, exceptionally, we have spent over 12 weeks here, sheltering during the pandemic.  As it is for everyone, we have passed through a difficult and worrying time, but our village is quiet and fairly remote, and we were very lucky to be able to be here during the Spring months of March, April and May and work every day in our park, improving it, planting, cultivating vegetables and flowers, and see it all flourish and blossom, something we were rarely able to do before.
photos at Savrasin were taken in March & April



Săvârsin is an estate established first in 1650, it underwent several transformations and renovations over the centuries, then became a royal home in 1942; my father and grandmother Queen Helen spent time here in those difficult War years.

https://www.imperialtransilvania.com/2018/05/16/read-more/argomenti/places-of-interest-1/articolo/savarsin-castle-owned-by-the-royal-family-of-romania.html

https://castlelifeblog.wordpress.com/castlefortress/castle/savarsin-castle/

What have you been doing during the quarantine? Are you able to keep in touch with your charities and other organizations? Is there a particular charity that you would like to talk about that you are involved in Romania? 

Yes, I am doing this daily. Communications by Zoom and the Internet have been a blessing these days.  Together, Prince Radu and I are royal patrons of about 50 associations, organizations, and institutions. We try to encourage, inspire, and help all of them.  Of course, the Red Cross (https://crucearosie.ro/) and the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation (https://www.frmr.ro/) are in touch with me every day.  We have a very strong, precise, and focused activity during the COVID-19 crisis.

https://www.amcham.ro/company/the-princess-margareta-of-romania-foundation









The Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation (MRRF) is the authority on the elderly in Romania through three decades of investment in programs for seniors.  This experience means that the Foundation is well placed to mobilize nationwide support for the elderly in this time of crisis. We are focusing on these issues with a two-pronged approach; emotional and practical support for the elderly AND mobilization of funds and volunteers:



Our Elderly Helpline, launched in 2015, has provided information and help to thousands of elderly people – to date we have received and responded to 43882 calls - on a wide range of topics.  In the light of the crisis, two new services have been added, namely psychological counselling and emotional support, and the possibility to place orders for home delivery.  The counselling service is provided by 5 dedicated volunteers so far, but we will need to recruit more.

Secondly, mobilization of funds through a nationwide campaign. Thus the FRMR Special Fund for the Elderly is a dynamic vehicle for fundraising from both individuals and companies – the funds raised will be used to support elderly through necessary products or food for those facing poverty, material and financial support for those now homebound, social services provided by small NGO’s or offered by citizen initiatives acting now within their communities for serving elderly people.

As President of the Romanian Red Cross, can you tell me about how the organization is coping with the current situation?

https://crucearosie.ro/cine-suntem/mesajul-presedintelui/

Our Red Cross is an organization with branches in every county, every town, and in many rural areas of the country. It numbers over 6 000 volunteers and covers basically the whole territory of Romania. We have a large number of actions every day, focused especially on disaster relief, people in need, children in rural areas, elderly people, and those who need assistance. For the coronavirus crisis we have been particularly active and have undertaken far-reaching activities.  In the context of the spread of COVID-19 on the Romanian territory, the Romanian Red Cross was designated at the governmental level as the main collection point, both for financial donations and in kind.



Through our national fundraising campaign "Romania Saves Romania", we have collected so far (May 20, 2020), over 6,700,000 euros in cash, and 1,300,000 euros worth of products. We purchased equipment and materials for hundreds of hospitals and are helping everywhere it is possible. We obtained and distributed over a million masks, gloves, food, medicine, first aid, medical equipment, ventilators, ICU monitors, a mobile intensive care unit ATI, test kits.

There are not many articles in English, I have included a few here to give an idea of the scale of our actions.

https://www.themayor.eu/en/romania-saves-romania-or-how-the-red-cross-helps-the-fight-against-coronavirus

https://business-review.eu/helpinghands/foreign-investors-council-donated-ron-700000-to-romanian-red-cross-210346

https://www.romaniajournal.ro/society-people/social/red-cross-romania-has-collected-over-eur-5-m-within-the-anti-covid-19-campaign/




How are you passing and Prince Radu passing the time?  It does look like you are having good weather.

We spend a lot of “office-time” with our staff at Elisabeta Palace, at the Red Cross and my foundation and trying to keep updated with the developments both in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. I am in touch with the political authorities and my Household keeps a very close touch with different ministries of our Government since some of our projects are common.

How has the Romanian government responded to the COVID-19? What are the rules for the lockdown?  What is open, what is closed. Are you able to get food deliveries, go shopping, go for walks outside the property? I am loving the photos of the flowers on the twitter account.

Romania responded to the crisis pretty much identically to the other European Union countries. Much of our legislation is in accord with EU regulations. Moreover, Romania has handled the crisis quite well, from the very beginning and so the results are good, but we are still cautious and worried.

Up to now Romania has taken a 2-step approach to COVID-19. For the first step (“state of emergency”), a significant lockdown was implemented.  Between mid-March and mid-May, leaving the house was forbidden except with a written declaration for the reasons for doing so, which needed to be justified from a shortlist (shopping, caring for the sick, volunteering, blood donor, professional reasons). All public-facing businesses were closed, except essential ones such as grocery stores, pet food, pharmacies, and banks. Most institutions adopted a no-public-schedule approach, with communications done only via electronic or postal means. Courts were suspended in most cases.

Food delivery is possible and has been functioning as a lifeline (both for consumers and as a provider of mini-jobs). Walks were permitted, around one’s home only.

One significant outcome was that the state was pushed towards e-government, something which is being kept after 15 May as well.

Since May 15th, under the new “state of alert”, all personal activities within a city are allowed without any written declaration. A statement of purpose is needed for inter-city travel. Many businesses have re-opened, except for the higher-risk ones such as theaters, sports with public, gyms, restaurants, and bars (except for take-out). Significant measures include the obligation to wear a mask in enclosed public spaces as well as many means of social distancing. People’s temperature is measured at the entrance of most public buildings.

As for us, we do not go shopping, we sometimes have food deliveries. Not very often though. We are quite self-sufficient here; we have a kitchen garden and have some supplies from the village itself.



 How were you able to celebrate the Orthodox Holy Week and Easter celebrations and services?

We could not attend the Easter Mass since churches were closed. We had a very unusual celebration, in solitude and I must say that it was a very spiritual, uplifting, and quiet experience. The priest of the village came to bring us the Holy Light in the evening and then, at midnight, according to the Orthodox tradition, we eat Easter eggs painted in red and some cozonac (an Easter cake, a sort of Romanian “Panettone”). And "Pascua”, another traditional cake for Easter, with white cheese and raisins.

What is the first thing you and Prince Radu want to do, once the self-isolation is lifted? When do you think you will be able to return to Elisabeta Palace?

Our work with the Household will continue, but, we hope, from Elisabeta Palace, where we hope to be able to return in mid-June. We have cancelled our external agenda for the rest of the year, except for 2 visits (one to The Netherlands, another one to the Middle East), which are scheduled in November and December 2020. We will have to see what happens before a final decision can be made of course. Inside the country we cannot travel much yet, public meetings are not allowed for the moment, but we might start our working meetings at Elisabeta Palace, observing all the precautions.

Unfortunately, we had to postpone a marvelous celebration at Pelesh Castle, with USA citizens living in Romania, that I wanted very much to host in June, when we celebrate 140 years of diplomatic relations between your country and Romania, established in 1880, during the time of King Carol I and President Rutherford B. Hayes. We will hopefully schedule the event for the end of this year.

 What is your reaction to the government’s decision to have a 49-year lease on the estate for the Royal Family’s estate? Was this a surprise or a decision that was under discussion since after the death of the King. I realize that the original agreement ended with the King’s death.

Background: Before 1947 Elisabeta Palace itself belonged to the aunt of King Michael, Princess Elisabeta of Romania, Queen of the Hellenes, not to my father.  After, it was nationalized during communism. After 1989, the King did not ask for it to be restituted, as it never belonged to him personally, so it remained public state property. In 2001, it was assigned to King Michael as his residence, as a former head of state under a Romanian law (which covers former presidents as well). Following the passing of my father, there have been various discussions with the authorities as to how the Elisabeta Palace could continue to serve the nation by remaining an official residence of the Royal Family.

Current: The solution that was found was that the “Royal Household Association” (which is an NGO that is part of the “Royal ecosystem” of legal entities, along with the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation,  the Royal Collection Foundation etc.), which has a long existence and significant activities (being the institutional partner for all public activities of the Royal Family) was recently recognized as being “of public utility” (meaning its purposes serve the nation).

Under Romanian law, such NGOs may receive, for free, public buildings to undertake their activities. The Elisabeta Palace was therefore allocated to it for free, for the term of 49 years (maximum allowed by law). In exchange, the Royal Household Association will have certain transparency and reporting obligations annually on its activities, which will appear in the Official Gazette. This decision will allow the Royal Family to continue its public activities in Bucharest as before.

 Romania is now seen by many as a functioning monarchy within a republic. How do you see your role in continuing the growth of the Royal Family’s role within the country? The celebrations of January seem so long ago now but were just four months ago. The three-day event was well reported in the Romanian media.

I have been blessed to be able to serve my country for 30 years so far, without any interruption. I suppose that this is one of the reasons the Royal House is so highly regarded by the Nation, especially by the young generations. My father’s service to the country was constant, long-lasting, and exemplary.  Many of my countrymen considered him to be the most beloved Romanian of our times.  And last but not least, The Romanian Crown is a „young” institution. Created 154 years ago, it encompassed the modern part of our history. Therefore, people consider the Royal House as an instrument of democracy and development, more than a medieval, old fashioned way of leadership.

And, I am sure that people understand better and better how important it is to represent the State institutions with political neutrality and to unite through balance and impartiality.

Indeed, some call Romania a “functional monarchy” meaning that the Head of the Royal House has all the public functions of a monarch, although not the constitutional ones (such as the head of the military).

The model for this work, from Royal Patronages (including state institutions), Royal events, scholarships, charitable activities, international relations work, and more importantly, maintaining the symbolism and meaning of the Crown, comes from the period before 1947. Gradually, the Royal Family has re-established its presence and work in Romania, covering most of the areas that the Crown touched before 1947.

Today, this is done in partnership with the Romanian State, which recognizes the positive impact of the Royal Family’s activities.

What would be your five (or more) favorite places to recommend visitors to see when traveling to Romania.

The orthodox monasteries in Northern Moldova and Bucovina, the Danube Delta, the Saxon villages in Transylvania, Pelesh Castle, and the very historical and culturally rich cities of Cluj, Ia i, Timisoara, Sibiu, Brasov.  There are also other fascinating places to go (the Carpathians, Maramure region, the Black Sea).  There is a really wonderful series called “Wild Carpathia” which you should definitely see! Fabulous.  Both the Prince of Wales and I took part in it.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4067554/

https://editiadedimineata.ro/romania-promovata-intr-un-documentar-realizat-cu-sprijinul-printului-charles-si-al-majestatii-sale-margareta/


https://www.romania-insider.com/ottley-film-campaign-romania-bbc-may-2020

https://www.romania-insider.com/winter-is-coming-wild-carpathia-finale-2018-feature

https://www.romania-insider.com/wild-carpathia-presented-un-2017


https://familiaregala.ro/resedinte/domeniul-regal-savarsin

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Marriage of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden.

All images  Marlene A. Eilers Koenig collection

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, the heir to the Danish throne, married Princess Ingrid of Sweden, only daughter of Crown Prince Gustav Adolf Sweden and his first wife, the late Princess Margaret of Connaught, were married today - May 24, 1935, at the Stockholm Cathedral.

Frederik IX (1899-1972) succeeded his father, King Christian X in April 1947.  He and Queen Ingrid (1910-2000)) had three daughters, Queen Margrethe II (1940), Princess Benedikte (1944), and Queen Anne Marie of the Hellenes (1946). 

Ingrid's father succeeded to the Swedish throne in 1950 as King Gustav VI Adolf.  He died in 1973 and was succeeded by his grandson, King Carl XVI Gustaf.





engagement announced on March 25, 1935






If you enjoyed this,  consider buying me a coffee to say thank you.


THE MARRIAGE OF VICTORIA LUISE OF PRUSSIA AND PRINCE ERNST AUGUST OF HANOVER



All images from the Marlene A Eilers Koenig collection



Although one newspaper described the marriage of Princess Victoria Luise of Prussia to Prince Ernst August of Hanover as "an affair of the first magnitude, "  Kaiser Wilhelm II considered his only daughter's marriage to be a private family affair.  The wedding, which took place in Berlin on May 24, 1913, was not a grand dynastic alliance, but a love match that piqued the media's interest on both sides of the Atlantic. For more than a week, The New York Times paid special attention to the Prussian-Hanover nuptials including front-page coverage of the wedding, and a major profile in the previous Sunday's magazine.  The New York Times' Berlin correspondent was one of several English-language journalists who were invited to the gala events that preceded the wedding, and the wedding, as well.

The marriage was an important event on several levels.  The bride was the Kaiser's only daughter, and she was marrying the son of a royal house that was largely swindled out of its kingdom due to Prussian dominance.  It was a marriage of the heart, and a turning point for the House of Hohenzollern, a moment frozen in time when the German Emperor, the British King, and the Russian Czar were together for one last time.  Although no one would have considered it possible at the time, this royal wedding was a swan song of pre-war European royalty. Thirteen months later, Europe was at war; and by November 1918, Germany would suffer defeat, and Kaiser Wilhelm II would spend his final years in exile in the Netherlands; revolution would sweep through Germany and Russia, and in July 1918, Nicholas II and his family would be murdered by Bolshevik thugs.  Of the three, only George V would retain his throne, although, he, too, would wonder how long the House of Windsor (as named by the king in 1917) would reign.



In its coverage of the Imperial wedding, The New York Times noted that Nicholas' visit to Berlin "has aroused little real public enthusiasm as that of the King and Queen of England. The police are having their own troubles in guaranteeing the safety of so many exalted foreign crown heads. In the case of the Czar, they are on the lookout for bomb-throwing Anarchists.  In the case of King George and Queen Mary the Kaiser's sleuths are watching for bomb-throwing suffragettes. "

But in May 1913, the talk was not of war, but of the wedding of a lovely princess and her handsome prince.  Hardly a private family affair.  King George V and Nicholas II were first cousins, as their mothers were sisters; and, as George and Wilhelm II were grandchildren of Queen Victoria, they, too, were first cousins.  But one must not forget the fact that the bridegroom was also a first cousin of the British and Russian sovereigns.  Ernst August's mother, Princess Thyra, was the younger sister of Queen Alexandra and Empress Marie of Russia.

Born in May 1892, Victoria Luise was her father's favorite child.  According to one of the Kaiser's more recent biographers, Victoria Luise "had a happier relationship with the Kaiser. Unlike her brothers, none of whom were in any way remarkable, Victoria Luise matured into an attractive and likable woman.  Wilhelm adored her, a love that she fully reciprocated, and the crown prince [Wilhelm] noted with envy that of his siblings, she alone was close to her father ."
As the only daughter of the German Emperor, Victoria Luise was one of the most eligible young princesses in Europe.  She was fair, slender, attractive, and adored by her father's subjects, many of whom called her "Our little Princess."

Because she was the only daughter of the Kaiser, Victoria Luise had been expected to marry for dynastic purposes.  No one, not even the princess herself, assumed that she would marry for love. In 1911, she accompanied her parents to England for an official state visit, and, she charmed everyone she met.  At a ball, she danced with George V; and, according to her mother, Victoria Luise was "highly thought of by everybody."  There were rumors of engagements, which, according to the princess, "fortunately were not true."

Victoria Luise was Protestant, and thus, a possible bride for the Prince of Wales.  At least that was the rumor making the rounds during the state visit.  But George V's eldest son was only 17 years old and Victoria Luise, nearly 20. In her memoirs, Victoria Luise described the future Duke of Windsor as "nice, but he looked so terribly young ." 

The rumor was not confined to the British media.  The British-born Princess of Pless had received a letter from her sister-in-law, Lulu, the Princess of Solms-Baruth.  "Do you go to England for the Coronation?... Do you believe the Prince of Wales is to marry our Princess? He is so young; but they hint at it in the papers. I don't believe it.... "


The Daily Express also considered Victoria Luise's prospect for marriage. "Certainly her marriage would be one of the most important events imaginable, fraught with tremendous consequences for the whole of Europe.  One thing is certain and that is that the Kaiser would have some weighty words to say on the subject...."

As it turned out, Wilhelm II had little to say about his daughter's marriage.   She fell in love with a very handsome German prince, and she never considered any other suitor.

There was one major problem:  the prince - Ernst August - was a scion of the House of Hanover; and, it was an understatement to say that the families loathed each other. A better description: a royal Hatfields vs the McCoys.  The Hanovers had good reason to hate the Prussians. In 1866, Prussia had annexed the kingdom of Hanover due to the latter's support of Austria in the Diet of the German Confederation.  Prussia's Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, furious with the Hanoverian monarch's defiance, insisted that Hanover remain neutral in Prussia's war with Austria.  An impossible demand.  King Georg V of Hanover had no choice but to acquiesce.  Prussian troops moved into his kingdom, and he and his family were forced into exile.


Thus, it seemed improbable that a member of the Hanoverian royal family would meet, fall in love with, and marry the daughter of the German emperor.  It was an extraordinary circumstance and a tragedy that led to the first meeting between the princess, known in the family as Sissy, and Prince Ernst August, who was the youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland.  The duke was the only son of the last king of Hanover, Georg V.

On May 20, 1912, Ernst August's older brother, Prince Georg Wilhelm, was killed in an auto accident.  The young prince was driving to Denmark to attend the funeral of his uncle, King Frederik VIII, when his car ran off the road, and hit a tree.  The impact killed both the prince and his valet.  Georg Wilhelm's skull was fractured when his head hit the steering wheel.

The accident occurred near Nackel, a small village less than 50 miles from Berlin. The Prince had died in Prussia. The New York Times acknowledged that his death would "likely have the effect of putting an end to the long-standing quarrel between the Duke [of Cumberland] and the Emperor."   A rather prescient statement, although the newspaper (or others, for that matter) would not have known that the quarrel ended with a marriage.

Never one to stand silent, Wilhelm II made the most of the situation by sending two of his sons, Princes Eitel-Friedrich and August Wilhelm, and a guard of Hussars to form an honor guard at the dead prince's bier.  Wilhelm also offered his condolences to the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland, having sent them a private telegram to their home in Gmunden, Austria.

Victoria Luise would later describe Georg Wilhelm's death on Prussian soil as "a remarkable caprice of fortune ."   After the Kaiser's telegram had arrived at Gmunden, the Duke of Cumberland's son-in-law, Prince Max of Baden, telephoned the Kaiser and asked if the Duke's son, Prince Ernst August, could come to Berlin to offer his parents' thanks for the Kaiser's actions and concern after Prince Georg Wilhelm's death.

It was the first meeting between the two families in nearly 50 years. Prince Ernst August arrived with Prince Max (married to Ernst August's sister, Marie Louise) in time for tea.  Ernst August was, according to Victoria Luise, "very quiet and aloof," until the Princess, learning that Ernst August, 25, was a Lieutenant in the Bavarian 1st Heavy Cavalry Regiment, asked her parents if she could show her "beautiful thoroughbreds" to the prince.  "The ice had melted... the conversation became light-hearted and the tea a cheerful affair ." 

The impression Ernst August made was a favorable one.  He "looked splendid, and had a distinguished appearance."  It was, for Victoria Luise, a "unanimous verdict," as her mother also liked the Hanoverian heir.  She thought he had a "sympathetic nature," and noted that "his beautiful eyes were so much like his mother's."

"For me, it was love at first sight. Suddenly, I was all fire and flame," Victoria Luise would write in her memoirs, The Kaiser's Daughter.  Her mother was certainly aware of Sissy's feelings, noting in her diary that the prince "certainly made an impression on my child from the first.  God knows whether it will ever come to anything ."

There would be problems, largely due to the uncomfortable history between the two families. The Kaiser was aware of his daughter's feelings for Prince Ernst August, but he was not convinced that the Duke of Cumberland would look favorably toward marriage between their children.  Wilhelm adored Sissy, and her happiness was a paramount issue.  He made arrangements to meet with Prince Max of Baden, who offered to act as an intermediary between the two families. Max and his wife, Marie Louise, spoke with her parents, offering support to both families in what could have become a difficult situation.  No one knew how the Duke of Cumberland would react to a marriage between his son and Wilhelm II's daughter.  Even more important, at least for the love-struck princess, was not knowing how Ernst August felt about her.  Since their meeting in Berlin, the prince and princess had not been in contact.

The negotiations were fraught with difficulty. The main sticking point remained the question of Hanover because the Duke of Cumberland refused to renounce his claim to the Hanoverian throne.  This was a sensitive issue for Ernst August's father.  He was justifiably proud of his heritage, including his position as a member of the British royal family, although he and his children had no real roles at the British court.

In January 1913, Prince Max returned to Potsdam to meet with the Kaiser.  His news was not good.  The Duke of Cumberland remained obstinate; he would not renounce his claim. Victoria Luise "remained very calm and brave," when she heard what Prince Max had to say.  Any despair she felt, she kept to herself.

She was not about to give up, and she took her sister-in-law, Crown Princess Cecilie, into her confidence.  Cecilie's brother, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, just happened to be married to one of Ernst August's sister, Alexandra.  Here was another important relationship between the two families.  Cecilie could speak to her brother and sister-in-law, who, just as the Badens, could speak with the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland.  Victoria Luise's brother, Prince Adalbert, also joined the negotiations; and, without the knowledge of the Emperor and Empress, he and Cecilie discreetly arranged to meet Ernst August in Partkenkirchen.  Victoria Luise soon would learn if Prince Ernst August shared her feelings.  Cecilie sent her a telegram, in English: "Just had tea and a long talk with somebody dining with Adalbert stop we three thinking all the time of you darling stop tender love Cilly."

Sissy was thrilled.  She now knew that her love was reciprocated.  But the hurdles still seemed insurmountable.  According to Victoria Luise, Prince Adalbert "used all of his powers of persuasion ... to further my ends."  But without Prince Max's diplomatic efforts, Victoria Luise acknowledged that her goal would never have been achieved.

Prince Adalbert arranged for his sister to talk with Ernst August on the telephone.  "It was all very secret and nobody else knew about it, not even my parents," Victoria Luise wrote in memoirs. 

Max's diplomatic efforts paid off. Prince Ernst August was able to speak directly and confidentially to his father about his feelings for the Prussian princess.  The prince finally convinced his father that he was in love with Wilhelm's daughter, and he wanted to marry her. On January 20th, Victoria Luise received a telegram from Prince Adalbert with the good news.  Empress Auguste Victoria wrote in her diary: "My child, her father, and I were radiantly happy."


Several dynastic and constitutional impediments were resolved.  The Duke of Cumberland would renounce his claim to the Duchy of Brunswick, to which he was the heir, thus allowing a future succession by his son and daughter-in-law.  But he would not need to renounce the claim to Hanover.  Ernst August, as the future son-in-law of the German Emperor, joined the Prussian army and swore allegiance to the Prussian king.  He, too, was not required to offer a renunciation to his family's former kingdom.


It was decided that Victoria Luise and Ernst August could meet in Karlsruhe, the seat of the Badens, which, according to Victoria Luise, "would be more suitable in which to bind the Houses of Hohenzollern and Guelph together."   Prince Max was commended for his role in bringing the couple together.  Equally important was the presence of the Dowager Duchess Luise of Baden, who was a Prussian princess by birth, the only daughter of Wilhelm I. It was during her father's reign that Hanover had been annexed on Bismarck's orders.



Accompanied by her parents and her brother, Oscar, Sissy arrived in Karlsruhe on February 10th, for what was described as a private visit to a beloved family member.  But the German media, hearing rumors from court officials, believed that Victoria Luise would soon marry.  The following morning's newspapers headlined the princess' forthcoming marriage, although no official announcement had been made.

Ernst August had arrived, unseen by the press, and, according to Victoria Luise, he met with her father shortly after the Imperial family had arrived.  For the first time Wilhelm II and Prince Ernst August could discuss privately the political and dynastic concerns that had caused so many problems.   The two men spent nearly an hour together and were eventually joined by the Empress and Victoria Luise.

The princess, wearing a "bright red silk gown," was excited, but nervous and pale.  Her parents exchanged a few words before leaving the room.  For the first time, the prince and princess were alone: "Alone. An indescribable moment," that the princess remembered for the rest of her life.

 Unable to keep their love a secret, their engagement -- much to the surprise of Great Aunt Luise -- was announced later in the day.  "Our happiness simply could not be kept secret," was how Victoria Luise described the event.

Not long afterward, Victoria Luise and Ernst August received a congratulatory telegram from his parents.  Victoria Luise spoke on the telephone to her future mother-in-law. It was the first time that the princess had been in contact with her fiancé's family.

"The weather wasn't very good to us: clouds hung over the city and it rained, but the Berliners had nevertheless insisted on turning out to greet us" ,  Victoria Luise wrote in her memoirs, describing when she and Ernst August returned to Berlin on February 13th.

That same day, Ernst August took the oath of loyalty to the King of Prussia. He was also invested with the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle, but he was not required to renounce his claim to Hanover.


It was also time for Victoria Luise to meet Ernst August's family. A few weeks after the announcement of the engagement, the princess and her mother went to Gmunden for an official introduction to the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland and other members of the Hanover Royal Family.  It was a difficult time for both mother and daughter, especially the Empress.  According to Victoria Luise, their fears were "groundless."  Nearly the entire Hanover royal family was present at the train station to welcome Victoria Luise and her mother; the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland; the Duke's sister, Princess Friederike; Ernst August's sisters, Olga, Alexandra and Marie, the latter two with their husbands, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Prince Max of Baden.

It was a successful visit.  Victoria Luise grew to love her future in-laws.  She described the duchess "as a small, elegant, and efficient woman with proverbially beautiful eyes....One loved her immediately. "    The princess got along well with all of her future husband's family, although his aunt Friederike, whose own marriage to a minor German baron had met with family disapproval some years before, caught Victoria Luise off-guard one afternoon when she started talking about the marriage in "the English way."   The princess had no idea what Friederike was talking about.  "The English way?" Victoria Luise asked her fiancé.

The Duke of Cumberland explained to Victoria about the Royal Marriages Act, which was promulgated in 1772 during the reign of George III.  The law, he said, stated that members of the British royal family -- and this included his own family, due to the direct male line of descent from George III -- needed the permission of the British sovereign to marry.   The duke decided that he would not request permission from George V for Ernst August's marriage.  Instead, he told the engaged couple that he would send the British king a formal notification of the wedding.

Victoria Luise related these events to her former English governess, Anne Topham.  The author of three books on her time in Berlin, Topham offered readers a unique perspective on the Imperial Family's domestic life.  According to Topham, Victoria Luise was bemused that her fiance, as a British prince, needed the permission of King George V, to marry.  "Fancy asking the King of England if Pol and I can marry each other,"  Victoria Luise had told Miss Topham.  (Pol was Victoria Luise's nickname for Ernst August).

The Prussian and Hannoverian royal families would meet again in Bad Homburg before the wedding as Kaiser Wilhelm also wanted to get to know his daughter's future in-laws.  Earlier, the princess and her fiancé were able to spend some time together in Berlin before he had to leave for Athens to attend the funeral of his uncle, King George I, who had been assassinated in Salonika.

Much to Victoria Luise's dismay, several political questions had yet to be resolved, namely the Hanoverian succession.  Several members of the Kaiser's cabinet wanted the princess to persuade Ernst August to renounce Hanover.  Victoria Luise refused, but she told Ernst August about the request.  "I have here a document which I am going to read to you, I'm certain that you won't acknowledge what's in it, and I wouldn't expect anything else of you."

The heated conversations did not take place between the Kaiser and the Duke of Cumberland, but by their supporters.  Thankfully, Prince Max of Baden used his diplomatic skills to maintain order, and a compromise was reached: Ernst August would not be required to renounce his claim to Hanover.  At Homburg, the duke of Cumberland received the Order of the Black Eagle, and his wife was invested with the Order of Queen Luise.  At this time, the marriage contract was drawn up and signed.  The marriage would take place in the Lutheran church (both families were ardent Lutherans), and Victoria Luise's dowry was set at 150,000 Marks.
The Kaiser also would provide his daughter "with princely dresses, jewels, gems and other things executed in such a manner as a Princess of Our Royal House selects or is her due." The Kaiser also gave his daughter 450,000 Marks from his Privy Purse, a "special fatherly favour."

In the weeks before the wedding, the young couple looked for a house in Rathenow, where Ernst August would be stationed until his succession in Brunswick was duly recognized.  They found an eight-room house, "very nice, but hardly a showplace," according to Victoria Luise.  "It was really very small, but I thought it was wonderful."

At least, as newlyweds, Victoria Luise and Ernst August, would be able to spend the first weeks of their marriage largely alone.

Prince Ernst August wrote to his fiancee nearly every day; he shared her concerns and frustrations.  Too many people were providing unwarranted advice, some of which was well-meaning, and others given "out of sheer vanity and pomposity."   Victoria's mother was nearly at her wit's end with all the stress.


"I'm sorry for your mother," Ernst August wrote. "Do try to keep her calm.  I'm very angry with these ladies for they are to blame for making her so nervous.  When you consider that none of these women is married, how can they want to involve themselves in such affairs....You know, I understand your mother perfectly.  She naturally wants the best for you, but she is an Empress, and want to have you just as she is, but she forgets that she is an Empress.  Do you understand what I mean?  I have no use in my life for an Empress as a wife, because I'm not an Emperor.  I want to stand outside that sort of life, and want my wife, too.  You're going to take your place as my wife, and will certainly fulfill your role, of that I am strongly convinced."

In another letter, Ernst August wrote to his future wife: "Soon we will be together, and we will have peace and quiet."

The wedding was to take place on May 24, 1913.  But the festivities had begun more than a week before and would culminate six weeks later with the celebration of the Kaiser's Silver Jubilee.  Victoria Luise, being the Kaiser's only daughter, would have her wedding celebrated in great style.

King George V and Queen Mary were among the first royal guests to arrive in Berlin.  But Wilhelm II and his government stressed that this wedding was a family affair.  The North German Gazette published a note about the nuptials: "Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress will upon the occasion of the marriage of their only daughter be surrounded by a brilliant circle of exalted guests.  Together with the august parents of the bridegroom we welcome with special pleasure the King and Queen of England and the Emperor of Russia. Though their presence is due to a family festival, yet the cordiality between the three Monarchs" which is thus signified constitutes valuable imponderable for the security of the undisturbed progress of the great nations of Europe ."

The British sovereigns arrived in Berlin on May 21st.  They alighted from the train and were greeted by the Emperor and Empress, Crown Prince Wilhelm, and Princess Victoria Luise.  Other members of the Prussian royal family were also present.  The British king and the Kaiser jointly reviewed a guard of honor before a carriage procession brought the royal guests into Berlin for further celebrations.

The entire ceremony was repeated when Tsar Nicholas II of Russia arrived the next day.  He was not accompanied by his wife, Alexandra, and he had traveled from Russia in an armored train.  In the evening, everyone attended a state dinner held in the White Hall at the royal palace in Berlin. More than 250 guests attended,  including at least 100 royals.  Several journalists were also invited, including three London correspondents and The New York Times. The guests were gathered around a "quadrangular table, which ran the full length of each side of the banqueting chamber. "

The New York Times' correspondent provided a first-hand account of the state dinner.  "The company displayed a dazzling medley of resplendent uniforms, glittering jewels, and beautiful gowns."

The dinner started at 8 p.m., when guests began to enter the hall to the strains of the Brunswick Military March, a good choice of music, due to the news that Ernst August and Victoria Luise would soon take up residence in the Duchy of Brunswick.

Perhaps wanting to impress his British and Russian cousins, Wilhelm II wore the full-dress uniform of the British Royal Dragoons and the Russian Order of St. Andrew.  He was accompanied by Queen  Mary.  King George V, accompanied by Empress Auguste Victoria, wore a Prussian Dragoons uniform and the Order of the Black Eagle.  Dona wore " strawberry colored court gown, with emerald, pearl and diamond ornaments."  The Tsar also wore the uniform of a Prussian Dragoon and the Order of the Black Eagle, and he escorted the Dowager Grand Duchess of Baden into the dinner. They were followed by the Duke of Cumberland and Crown Princess Cecilie, and Crown Prince Wilhelm and the Duchess of Cumberland.

"Prince Ernest Augustus, looking every inch a soldier-lover, was radiantly smiling as he entered with Princess Victoria Louise, who looked very girlish in a pretty dress of brocade pale blue, her fiancé's favorite color. "

The Times noted that no toast was made at the dinner.  It was also the first time that the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland had attended an official event in Berlin.

It comes as no surprise that the Princess received "presents galore".  Ernst August presented her with a complete jewelry set.  Her father gave her a diadem and a pearl necklace, and the Empress' gift to her daughter was a diamond tiara.  Queen Alexandra of Great Britain sent her nephew's future wife, an emerald brooch.  King George and Queen Mary's presents included a gold goblet and a diamond brooch.  Nicholas II's gift was a diamond and aquamarine necklace. There were other gifts as well from royals who did not attend the wedding: an antique clock from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and silver vessels from the Italian king and queen.  Perhaps, the most important gift was the diadem that once belonged to Empress Josephine, a gift from the duchy of Brunswick.

The evening before the wedding, the young couple and their families attended a gala event at the Royal Court Opera.  The opera was a perfect choice: Richard Wagner's Lohengrin. The royal box was decorated with Victoria Luise's favorite flowers, pink carnations. Before taking their seats, the young couple bowed to the standing audience, and members of the audience bowed back.

Berlin held great affection for Princess Victoria, described by her father as the "sunshine of my house."

The marriage took place at sundown on May 24th.  Victoria Luise had spent much of the day preparing for her wedding.  The Empress helped her daughter dress.  "Then we repaired to the Chinese Room [in the Berlin Schloss], and we found that a unit of soldiers had formed lines throughout the castle and taken up sentry posts everywhere....At 4 p.m. members of the staff of the Royal Privy Purse came by, carrying the bridal crown of the Princess of Prussia. Then the Mistress of the Empress's Household, Therese, Countess von Brockdorff, picked up the crown and ceremoniously handed it to my mother who carefully placed it on my head. "

The bride wore the crown diamonds, which included a necklace and brooch and the "Princess of Prussia Crown, "of large diamonds, resting on a purple velvet base. "

The bridal party then made its way to the Elector's Room where the Kaiser and the Marshall of the Court, Count August zu Eulenberg, other family members, court officials, and the bridegroom awaited them.  Following the civil registration of their wedding, Victoria Luise and Ernst August made their way to the royal chapel, which had been decorated by the Empress and the Crown Princess with the bride's favorite flowers, including carnations, roses, and wreaths.

The bride and bridegroom, the latter wearing the uniform of the Zieten Hussars, were followed into the chapel by the Kaiser and the Duchess of Cumberland, dressed in a gown of lavender satin trimmed with lace with a lilac train embroidered in gold.  Her jewels included a tiara, collar, and a diamond brooch.

"The Kaiserin entered on the arm of the Duke of Cumberland. The bride's mother was a regal figure in green satin embroidered with silver. Her train was of green velvet with old silver embroidery, bordered with sable ."   The New York Times also noted that the Empress wore "her famous five rows of pearls and a collar of emeralds and a glittering diadem of diamonds."

But it was Queen Mary, normally not the fashion maven, whose gown caught the admiration of one reporter.  She was "a most striking figure", who entered the chapel, on the arm of the Russian emperor, wearing a "gold dress designed and made in India, with colored flowers worked in colored diamante embroidery.  Her train was of Irish lace, lined with cloth of gold, and had a deep embroidered border of leaf design."

The Queen's jewels were also noteworthy.  She wore "a large necklace, made of the lesser stars of Africa from the Cullinan diamond....On her head rested a diamond crown while her neck was hidden beneath rows of diamonds, forming a collar ."

Crown Princess Cecilie had chosen a gown of silver brocade with a pink velvet train, embroidered in silver.  Her jewels included a diamond tiara, and "the crown sapphires, forming a necklace and brooch."

The New York Times's correspondent also paid special attention to "two of the most beautiful women in the German court," the Princess of Salm-Salm (the former Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria), "charmingly in pink," and the Princess of Pless, born Mary-Theresa Cornwallis-West, "who wore a Byzantine costume embellished with precious stones."

The Princess of Pless described the wedding as "really charming and the Emperor was sorry to lose his only daughter, to whom he was devoted. "  Known to nearly everyone as Daisy, the princess, who was not well, did not attend the church service because she would have had to stand. She watched the procession "and then sat down under the shadow of the big staircase to wait for its return. Two men-at-arms crossed their swords for me to rest my foot upon," she wrote in Daisy Princess of Pless.  "For the Court after the wedding ceremony I had made a special effort and put on all my best clothes in honour of King George V and Queen Mary.  I wore my cloth-of-gold train...my best crown and jewels and course all my Orders."
wedding banquet

It was also noted by The New York Times that six American women had been invited to the wedding, including the wife of the U.S. ambassador, John Leishman, and their daughter Nancy (who was engaged to marry the Duke of Croy); and Miss Yvette, who attended school with the Princess in Potsdam.


"Bright sunlight filtered through the chapel cupola" as the bride and groom made their way to the altar.  The royal chaplain, Dr. Ernst Dryander, who had baptized and confirmed the princess, gave a sermon of "earnest and worthy words" about the seriousness of life.  He also described the Princess as "the Sunshine of the Royal House."

The New York Times noted that "the bride, looking even paler than she is ordinarily, was an entrancingly pretty girlish figure in her magnificent gown of cloth of silver and decorated with old lace.  Her train, carried by four bridesmaids in pale blue, was of the same material as the dress and lined with ermine ."



It was left to the bride's maternal aunt, Princess Louise Sophie, who was married to the Kaiser's second cousin, Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia, to provide a note of negativism.  The relationship between the two families was strained even though Louise Sophie was the Empress' younger sister.  The week before Sissy's wedding, Louise Sophie's only daughter, Victoria Margarete, had married Prince Heinrich XXXIII of Reuss. But the couple did not get to know each other well before Wilhelm II had ordered her parents to announce the engagement. Louise Sophie believed that the Emperor wanted her daughter out of the way, "obviously because she was far more beautiful than his only daughter, Victoria Louise,"  whose own engagement was announced not long afterward.  Victoria Margarete's marriage ended in divorce in 1922.

Prince and Princess Friedrich Leopold and their family were required to attend the Emperor's daughter's wedding. "It could not be truthfully said that Victoria Louise was a lovely bride.  Small, strangely pale and fair, with level set eyes, the poor thing seemed crushed by her bridal train of frap d'argent lined with ermine; probably the Emperor had insisted on the ermine ."

Ernst August's response, "Ja!" "rang so loudly and clearly" that the princess noted she had to follow suit, and "when we joined hands in front of the altar he clasped mine very firmly, insisting that his thumbs were on top of mine."  The princess stated in her memoirs that "there's an old folk-tale which says if the husband does not have his thumbs above those of his bride at the wedding ceremony then he will have no say during his marriage."

Pastor Dryander was taken aback by this behavior.  The princess and her husband smiled at each other. 


After the couple had exchanged their vows and rings, and were pronounced married in the simple Lutheran ceremony, they heard a 36-gun salute fired by the 1st Guards Artillery regiment, which was followed by the peal of the chapel bells.  The newlyweds and the bridal party made their way back to the White Hall, where the bride and groom stood under a canopy to receive their guests.  An orchestra played "The Wedding March," from Lohengrin's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

More than 1,000 guests attended the wedding banquet.  The White Hall was not large enough to accommodate all the guests so tables and chairs were set up in adjoining rooms.

The Kaiser offered a toast to his daughter and new son-in-law.  "My darling daughter, today as you leave our house, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the joy you have given me and your mother. You have given your hand and your heart to a man who comes from an honourable German sovereign house and from an old German stock. As long as the German tongue is spoken and as far away as it will sound, it will tell of the prominent role played by the Guelphs and Hohenzollerns in the historical development of our Fatherland.  You do not have to be told that you are free to follow the dictates of your heart, and to choose the man you loved."

To Ernst August, the Kaiser proposed: "I hereby entrust our child to you.... Above all things, however, despite your youth, you will come to serve and care for others.  May this duty be the finest accomplishment of your life and the love of other people warm your heart.  May you both, and my daughter above all, be loyal to your new House."

According to The New York Times' reporter, this final statement meant that "the supreme war lord's wedding gift to his daughter and her soldier lover is the throne of a future independent Brunswick."  (On May 27th, the Federal Council of the Empire decided to end Brunswick's Prussian regency since 1866 and announced that on October 31, 1913, Prince Ernst August and Princess Victoria Luise "would make their formal entry into the capital, Brunswick, as reigning Duke and Duchess of an independent Federal State the next day."  The new Duke of Brunswick would reign for a mere five years before abdicating in November 1918).

Victoria Luise's former governess, Anne Topham said that "it was a marriage which filled the German people with joy... "  "The marriage turned out very happily.  It was the last of the Hohenzollern weddings to be celebrated with the ancient Torch dance and picturesque old-world ceremonial so long and wearisome for the bride and bridegroom."

Topham alluded to the traditional Torch dance, a polonaise that ended every Hohenzollern wedding.  At 8 p.m., the Kaiser ordered the Chief Marshal, the Prince zu Fürstenberg, to commence the dance.  The prince came up to the newlyweds, "bowed, and invited us to dance."   The dance took place in the White Hall, and it is said that no one below a royal highness could take part.  According to The New York Times, "the dance consists of a series of grand marches around the hall with 12 scarlet and gold-clad pages at the head, bearing thick candlesticks two feet long.  The bridal pair attach themselves to the procession, and the bride and groom, in turn, lead around the hall two gentlemen and two ladies, respectively."

The Princess first danced with her father and father-in-law, and her husband danced with his mother and new mother-in-law.  "It was a picturesque moment when the time came for the pale silver bride to take the Czar and King by the hand, while the bridegroom followed with Queen Mary and the Crown Princess.  The torch dance ended with the pages escorting the bridal pair to the nuptial chamber...."

At the end of the dance, Nicholas turned to Victoria Luise, and told her "My wish is that you will be as happy as I am."  The Tsar was referring to his happy marriage to the former Princess Alix of Hesse and By Rhine.   It was the last conversation that Victoria Luise had with the Russian Emperor.

The Torch Dance culminated with the distribution of pieces of Victoria Luise's garter, bearing the arms of the newlyweds.  But the distribution was hardly dignified.  There was a scramble for the pieces of garter that left many guests, including the Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine, with scratched faces. "The nuptial apartments of the newly married Prince and Princess Ernest Augustus of Cumberland in the Royal Castle in Berlin were the scene after last night's wedding of a scramble for souvenirs which would have done credit to an American crowd,"  wrote the usually august New York Times.

It was a free for all for the "hundreds of bejeweled ladies and gentlemen, representing the cream of Germany aristocracy," as they scrimmaged for the bits of ribbon.  One who survived described the scene as "a cross between a Bank Holiday frolic on Hampstead Heath and a football riot."

The prince and princess had been escorted to their room by the Kaiser and his wife.  "The Prussian Princess's Crown was taken away from me and given back for safekeeping to the officials of the Privy Purse.  Then my mother lifted off my bridal wreath.  The hour of parting had struck ."

The couple changed their clothes and were driven to the railroad station, accompanied by the Kaiser and four of the princess' six brothers.  Princes Oskar and Adalbert had remained behind with their mother, no longer able to cope with the loss of her only daughter.  The ever-sensitive bride had left a letter in her mother's room, which Auguste Victoria found when she went to bed.


At the station, Victoria Luise said good-bye to her father. She curtseyed to the Kaiser and then kissed his hand. Wilhelm embraced his daughter, and kissed her "affectionately."  Victoria Luise then said good-bye to her brothers.  Prince Eitel Friedrich threw rice, a symbol of good luck, over his sister.  The couple boarded the train, and Victoria Luise had one final moment with her beloved father.  She kissed his hand once again; he alighted from the train, and then signaled the train to leave.  He stood on the platform, not as the supreme warlord, but a devoted father, waving good-bye until the train was no longer in view.


If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you can buy me a coffee, any size, but I do
love flat whites or vanilla lattes.