Friday, September 3, 2010

And who will Wilhelmina choose?


September 4, 1898

There continues to be a lot of public attention "throughout the civilized world" upon the young Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, reports the Marquise de Fontenoy. This is not due to her recent assumption of "the sovereignty of the Netherlands," but because she is expected to "make an announcement on her matrimonial intentions." The queen's marriage "is naturally of the utmost importance not only to the Dutch people themselves but likewise to the other European powers."
The French, it is said, would like the Queen to marry Prince Harold of Denmark, Prince George of Greece, "or the member of some other reigning family whose sympathies might be relied upon to be more with the Franco-Russian alliance than with Germany."
The French are well aware that if Wilhelmina marries a German prince, Holland "runs a great danger of being first of all brought into the sphere of Germany, and then incorporated in the military, political and economic confederation of sovereign States known as the German Empire."
There is also an "immense amount of pressure" on Wilhelmina to marry one of her German cousins, "all the influence of her family being exercised in favor of such a match. The prince in question is Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, the younger of the two sons of the late Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Weimar, who died several years ago in the south of France. Bernhard's elder brother, Prince Wilhelm is not only the heir to his grandfather, the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, but also the heir presumptive to the Dutch throne, as the late Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar was the sister of Wilhelmina's late father.

Everything "predictable" is being done to prepare Prince Bernhard "for the role of Prince Consort." He has been educated partly in the Netherlands, and spends a part of each year at the Hague in a palace that he owns, and he has been "thrown as much as possible into the society of the young Queen." For the past few weeks, the Prince has been Wilhelmina's guest at her country palace.
But there is every reason to believe that Wilhelmina "does not approve of his suit." She has seen "too much of him," and her character is "sufficiently wilful, independent and contrary to lead her to take an objection to any one who she believes is being forced upon her."
Wilhelmina is more likely to "make her selection from among the other Princes" who will be Amsterdam to attend the festivities during the coming week. Wilhelmina's resolve to not marry Prince Bernhard is strengthened "by the knowledge that her subjects would infinitely prefer her to marry some non-German prince."
Queen Wilhelmina is "expected to thrown her handkerchief to one of the young Princes assembled at Amsterdam this week to attend her coming of age festivities."
Curiously enough "each country, save England, is sending a marriageable Prince" to the celebrations.
Denmark will be represented by "the good-looking and dashing Prince Harold." Many feel he is favored by the young Queen, and has the best chance of "winning the prize. Harold is the younger son of the Crown Prince of Denmark.
Belgium will be represented by Prince Albert, the heir to King Leopold II. A marriage between Albert and Wilhelmina "would entail a dynastic union between the two kingdoms, which were parted by war and revolution in 1830."
Prince George will represent Greece, and "may possibly captivate" Wilhelmina "by reason of his enormous bulk." Russia's representative will be an unmarried Grand Duke.
Sweden's representative will be Prince Eugen, the artist son of King Oscar. The Prince is known for his "exceedingly democratic opinions." Eugen is "clever, good looking, thoroughly unaffected" and spent several years studying in Paris.
Italy was planning to send the Count of Turin. But he is "not fancy free," and he was recently sent across the Atlantic to the United States "to put an end to an intimacy which had developed into something much akin to a scandal."
In addition to the Saxe-Weimar princes, the Prince of Wied and the son of Prince Albrecht of Prussia, will attend the celebrations.

Wilhelmina will get to choose her future consort, but the marriage will have to be sanctioned by the Dutch parliament. If she marries without consent, the marriage will be "considered illegal and morganatic," and her descendants will be barred from the throne.

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