Monday, February 7, 2011

Is Princess Beatrice about to remarry?

February 7, 1899

Princess Beatrice of Battenberg may be planning a second marriage, according to the Marquise de Fontenoy's latest dispatch.  Nothing else is "being talked about in English court circles," and the official announcement will be made shortly.
The man is a foreigner, like her late husband, Prince Henry, and "like him, too, not of royal birth."   Princess Beatrice is expected to marry Count Albert Mensdorff, now the Chargé d'Affaires of Austria-Hungary to the Court of St. James.  He is the younger brother and heir to Prince Hugo of Dietrichstein, who is not a mediatized Prince, "but merely an ordinary Austrian noble."

Count Albert and Princess Beatrice are cousins, as his grandfather married a Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his father, Prince Alexander Dietrichstein, was the Prince Consort's favorite cousin and "intimate crony."
The count has spent his entire diplomatic career in England, and is a "one of the most popular members of London society."  He is often invited to Sandringham, and is a frequent guest of Queen Victoria.

 He has spent most of the winter at Osborne with the Queen, and drives out "almost daily" with the Queen and Princess Beatrice, or with the Queen alone or Princess Beatrice alone.

Queen Victoria is very fond of the count, "feeling sadly in want of some male relative to remain by her side, to adapt himself to her whims and requirements."  In other words, a replacement for the much lamented "Liko" - Prince Henry of Battenberg, "whose full value at court was never thoroughly appreciated until after his sudden and premature death."

There is one slight obstacle to a proposed marriage.  Count Albert is Roman Catholic.  Beatrice cannot marry a Roman Catholic without losing her place in the succession.   The Count "would readily consent to become a convert to the Church of England" for the sake of "so grand an alliance."  He also would become a British naturalized subject, following the standard set by the Prince Consort, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and Prince Henry.

In Europe, the marriage would be regarded as morganatic, as was the marriage of Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry.  But Princess Beatrice has never lived abroad, her children by Prince Henry, like those of the Duke of Teck, "only rank as morganatic issue at foreign courts.

It is also possible that Queen Victoria could raise her new son-in-law to the rank of duke after his marriage to Princess Beatrice.

On February 22, 1804, Princess Sophie of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld married Count Emmanuel de Pouilly, created Count of Mensdorff-Pouilly in 1818.  Sophie was the sister of Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, King Leopold I of Bavaria, and Victoire, Duchess of Kent.   Count Albert Viktor Julius Joseph Michael von Mensdorff-Pouilly was born September 5, 1861 at Lember, the third child of Alexander Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly and Countess Alexandrine von Dietrichstein-Proskau-Leslie. 

Count Alexander was the fourth child of Count Emmanuel and Princess Sophie.
Count Albert and Princess Beatrice are second cousins.


Ron said...

I've never been clear how Count Alexander von Mensdorff-Pouilly became Fürst von Dietrichstein zu Nikolsburg. Obviously, the title was connected to his wife's family, but she wasn't even the oldest daughter. Can you enlighten me?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Aline was the heiress of Joseph Prince von Dietrichtstein. In 1869, Franz Joseph gave this new title to Alexander.