Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rumors about the Orleans marriage persist

September 1, 1898

The Marquise de Fontenoy reports today on the "persistent rumors" in France and at the courts of Vienna and England regarding an imminent separation between the Duke of Orleans and his Austrian wife. It is "no secret that things have been going from bad to worse with this young couple," and the only reason that the Duchess has not yet left her husband is due to the intervention of the Austria Emperor.
The Duke of Orleans, when first married, "was so pleased and gratified by his admission into the imperial family of Austria," which appeared to improve his social position. He was noted for treating his wife, Archduchess Maria Dorothea, with "a marked degree of consideration."
These "sentiments on his part with regard to his wife" did not last. He was "greatly disappointed at the failure" of the British and Belgian courts to receive his wife and himself "with the alacrity, the hospitality, and above all the royal honors that would have readily been accorded to her" as an archduchess of Austria, "instead of of as the wife of a disreputable French pretender of doubtful lineage and of excruciatingly bad manners."
The Duke's requests for invitations to the courts of St. Petersburg, Italy, Spain and Denmark, so that he might "present them to his wife," were all declined, for one reason or another. This has mortified the duke deeply and had the "effect of irritating him against the Duchess," as he had expected that his marriage would have opened "many royal doors which had until that time remained closed."
Maria Dorothea "has failed to hit it off" with her mother-in-law, the "masculine Countess of Paris," or her two sisters-in-law, the Queen of Portugal and the Duchess of Aosta.
About a year ago, "in deference to a hint received from Vienna," the Prince of Wales invited the Duke and Duchess of Orleans to Sandringham. This was the "first recognition to them" by a member of the British royal family. The Prince also invited a "number of French Royalists over from Paris" to join the house party.
All of the French guests returned to France "shocked beyond expression by the glaring contrast of the bad manners of the Duke as compared with the courtesy of the Prince."
All were "disgusted by the pretender's roughness towards his wife," as well as the coarseness of his language," in her presence but also in the presence of the Princess of Wales.
On that occasion, the Duchess of Orleans caught a bad cold, which she "has never since got rid," and she is now largely an invalid. Her illness and her failure to present the Duke with an heir "have completed the estrangement" between the couple, and a "sensational rupture is looked for at any moment."
In Paris, popular sympathy is with the Duchess, as her husband as few friends, "even in the ranks of his political followers."
The Duke of Orleans and Archduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria were married on November 5, 1896 at Vienna. She is the daughter of Archduke Josef Karl of Austria, Palatine of Hungary.

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