Friday, January 8, 2010

No marriage for Wales & Astrid

January 8, 1926

The Chicago Daily Tribune is reporting, "on the authority of a member of the Prince of Wales' suite, that there is absolutely no truth to the story" that the Prince is about to become engaged to Princess Astrid of Sweden. This engagement is "impossible for "medical and dynastic reasons."
The Tribune was told that when Prince John, the youngest son of the King George V and Queen Mary, died of epilepsy in January 1919, his parents "were informed that John's condition, as well as the constitutional weakness of other members of the family, was due to inbreeding." The king and queen were told that the "only remedy was the introduction of fresh blood."
On the king's order, "medical experts prepared a table of European princesses within the prohibited degree," which included Princess Astrid, who is the Prince of Wales' second cousin.
But "all of the eligible princesses had disappeared on account of the European revolutions," and the king and queen made a decision "that if the prince of Wales married at all, which was doubtful," his wife "would be some healthy English girl with no trace of consanguinity." According to the report, "this decision still holds."
The paper's article also notes that the bride must be Protestant, but the only Protestant princesses are in Scandinavia, "all of whom are within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity. This means the Italian princesses are out because they are Roman Catholic. The Roumanian princesses are Orthodox, but are "unpopular on account of the standing of their mother, Queen Marie, in England."
The wife of the Duke of York, second in line to the throne, is expecting her first child in the spring. The duchess is the English-born Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marlene, this is an interesting article. Do you think that the Tribune did have a genuine contact with a "member of the Prince of Wales suite" or was it journalist's guessing? I had always thought that George & Mary looked for marriage partners for their children in the English aristocracy because many of the German and European princes and princesses were not seen as suitable due to their country's involvement in the Great War against the Allies, and that public feeling was against such matches.
Prince John's epilepsy may have simply been due to birth anoxia or trauma - I don't recall reading of epilepsy in English and other Royals. There was certainly "a constitutional weakness of other family members"! Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was described as being "stolid' and had a marked speech impediment - although this didn't prevent him from being appointed Governor General of Australia in the 1940's. He, like his brother George VI, had a drinking problem, and, I read recently (can't bring the book to mind) that George VI was described as being "stupid" by a British MP. He too, had a marked speech impediment.
Prince George, Duke of Kent,spoke several languages, including Dutch, which is supposedly a notoriously difficult language to learn, and was an art and antique connoisseur so he may not have inherited the "constitional weakness". George V's Danish royal relations were not known for their high intellect so the Danish genes may have contributed to the family weakness.
I don't think Edward VIII was known as an intellect - he certainly brought "fresh blood" into the family when he married Wallis Simpson!

Regards

Rex

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

I don't think the journalist was making it up. George and Mary were on record about having their children marrying into the aristocracy. The war may have played a role, but I sincerely doubt that they would have said no if Bertie had expressed a desire to marry Astrid if there had been no concern over health. George V and his siblings all suffered from poor health, and all died before the youngest of Victoria's children. Hemophilia and porphyria still was extant.