Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The klepto Princess

May 11, 1906

The Marquise de Fontenoy's column features a story about Princess Adolf Wrede, who has been "charged with kleptomania in connection with the discovery of a quantity of silver," stolen from many of Europe's leading hotels. The princess stashed the silver at Schloss Bastow, in Mecklenburg, which her husband had leased from Count Hahn.
Carmen Alvear y Pacheco, is the widow of Apolitnario de Benitez, an Argentine.
The future Princess "first attracted attention in Europe," when she was named as the co-respondent in an unsuccessful divorce suit initiated by the "eccentric" Lady Aby against her "roue husband."
Mrs. de Benitez traveled from Argentina to London to testify in court. She said she "was innocent of any wrongdoing with Sir William Abdy," but she had never even met him or his wife. She told the court that she only took notice "of the addair was the persecution to which she had been subjected to for several years," as Lady Adby had sent letters to herself and her friends, "containing the most slanderous charges against her."
Mrs. de Benitez soon met Prince Adolf Wrede. His previous marriage, "by dint of much litigation, ended in divorce, and, in 1896, he married Carmen de Benitez. The Prince is the chamberlain to the crazy King of Bavaria, and he divides his time between his German castle and a town house in Madrid.
The prince and princess were married in 1896.
The Prince's first wife, Ludmilla Maldaner, "the prima donna or divette," as described by the Marquise, was born in Vienna, the daughter of a shop owner. Twenty years ago, she married an Austrian Pole, a Dr. Dobrinski. Both were Roman Catholics, but after moving to Moscow, and becoming Russian citizens, they joined the Russian Orthodox church. Eventually, the marriage collapsed, and the doctor obtained a divorce from a Russian ecclesiastical court. Ludmila then married Prince Adolf in Paris, but they lived together for only a short time before he abandoned her "on the ground that he had discovered that the ecclesiastical court in St. Petersburg had exceeded its powers in granting a legal dissolution of the marriage contracted by two Roman Catholics in Austria before being naturalized in Russia.
In Bavaria, the Prince was able to obtain a decree that declared his first marriage to be null and void. The Bavarian court took the view that Ludmilla's first marriage had not been legally dissolved, and, she remains the wife of the Austrian doctor. French courts have a different view, and will not registered the Bavarian "decree of dissolution," and the consequence is that the Prince is a bigamist in French law. According to the French, the Prince remains married to the Austrian divette, and the "woman of kleptomaniac habits is looked upon as his belle amie rather than his wife." But everywhere else in Europe, the first Princess Adolf is "treated with unlawful usurpation," as a "pseudo noblewoman and an adventuress." Both women are "subject to caution."

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