Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Duchess of Aosta near death

January 11, 1908

By telegraph from Rome to Clifden, Ireland, and then by Marconi wireless telegraph to the New York Times.

All of Italy is "following with deep solicitude the flickering out of the life of the Duchess of Aosta," who is said to be near death from consumption at Cairo.

She is held in deep affection by the Italian people, "in whose lives she has taken such great interest."  There is "universal sympathy" for the Duchess due to a crisis in her life.  Last summer,  British Queen Alexandra spent some time cruising in the Mediterranean, where the "real object" of her visit was to try to reconcile the Duke and Duchess of Aosta, after a failed attempt by the King of Italy.

The Duchess of Aosta's "tenderest affections for her husband" were wounded by the revelation that her husband was having an affair with an aristocratic lady from Naples.

The former Princess Helene of Orléans hurried to Rome to speak to King Vittorio Emanuele, to gain his consent for a separation.  Wishing to avoid further scandal, the king reluctantly agreed to a separation if this is what the Duchess wanted.

The Duchess also poured out her heart in letters to Queen Alexandra.  The Queen was very fond of Helene, who was once considered as a bride for her eldest son, the Duke of Clarence, but religious obstacles prevented an engagement from taking place.

Queen Alexandra arrived in Naples and "did everything possible to reconcile the Duke and Duchess."  It appears that she was successful.  The Duke of Aosta acknowledged that he "dearly loved and respected his wife," but the news of his infidelity did harm to the Duchess' "frail health."

A lung condition has developed into consumption.   In Cairo, the Duchess of Aosta appears well enough, but she is "doomed unless a miracle is worked on her behalf within the near future."  Her doctors believe she has suffered from consumption for some time.   Her sons have "inherited the weakness she was not conscious of having at the time of her marriage."

Princess Helene grew up on England, where Alexandra, then Princess of Wales, "conceived a great fondness for her."  At the time of her eldest son's death, the Duke of Clarence, engaged to Princess May of Teck,  remained "madly in love" with Princess Helene.  On his deathbed, he "called incessantly" for Helene, "his wish being granted before he died."

Afterward, Princess Helene married the Duke of Aosta, then heir to the Italian throne, and it seemed "that her prospects in life were extremely rosy,
contrasting with her approaching death and "makes it seem all the sadder."

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