January 17, 1905
Pope Pius X is said to be behind the proposed engagement between King Alfonso XIII and Duchess Marie-Antonia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The Duchess's parents, Duke Paul and his wife, the former Princess Marie of Windisch-Graetz, have lived in Venice for some years now. Marie was born in Venice in 1884. Pius, who was Cardinal Sarto, acted as the couple's spiritual advisor, and "was naturally drawn towards the family of a prince, such as Grand Duke Paul." The Grand Duke had sacrificed a military career, "which had given promise of great brilliancy," as well as his rights to the Ducal throne because of his conversion to the Roman Catholic faith.
Duchess Maria Antonia is described as a special favorite of the Pope, and he is "exceedingly anxious that she should become queen of Spain."
It is said that the heads of the houses of Russia, Austria and Prussia are also in favor of the marriage, as "it is exceedingly likely to become a fait accompli."
There is one drawback, however. Duke Paul has little money, and his daughter is unlikely to bring to her husband a dowry.
Maria Antonia is one of four children of the Duke and Duchess, although her two older sisters, Duke Paul and Duchess Marie Luise, are deceased. Young Paul died in 1904, and Marie Luise was only four-years-old when she died in 1887. Marie Antonia has one younger brother, Heinrich Borwin, who was born in 1885.
One of Marie Antonia's aunts, Marie, is the wife of Grand Duke Wladimir of Russia. One of her uncle's, Heinrich, is married to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.