Monday, January 9, 2012

A separation for the Hesses

January 8, 1898

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse and By Rhine have separated again, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune, and it is understood that this separation "will be final, a fact all the more to be regretted as the sundering of the domestic ties in this case is prompted solely by the complete incompatibility of character."

Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig is now on his way to Russia, where he will stay for several months as the guest of the Emperor and Empress,"the latter of whom is his sister," while his estranged wife, Victoria Melita, is in Nice with her sister, Crown Princess Marie of Romania.  She will return with Marie to Bucharest in several weeks.

Queen Victoria is said to "be very angry about the affair."  She is the grandmother of both the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess.   Victoria Melita is the second daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

The Prince of Wales and the Grand Duke's eldest sister, Princess Louis of Battenberg, who lives for six months a year in Darmstadt, have been trying to effect a reconciliation between the young couple.   Victoria Melita's father, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha has been "rendered so ill by the worry and annoyance" due to his daughter's marital problems, that he has been sent to Egypt by his doctor to take the sulphur baths, "with the object of getting the bile out of his system."

The Grand Duke is to have an "irrepressible fondness for practical joking," and should his separation be final, "it will be the first instance of a royal divorce ascribed to such a cause."

Victoria Melita, "a high-spirited, quick-tempered" woman, has been the butt of her husband's practical jokes, which have included the "roughest kind of horse-play."   She is said to possess a horror "for everything that offends her delicacy or that verges on vulgarity."

It is said that the married life of this young couple has been "marked by continual squabbles."

The Grand Duchess departed from Darmstadt last spring after one incidental, and it took months of "negotiations and entreaty" before she was persuaded to return to her husband "at the time of Queen Victoria's jubilee."  The reconciliation apparently took place at Clarence House, the London residence of Victoria Melita's parents.
all images from Marlene A. Eilers Koenig collection

The Grand Duke promised to "repress his tendency" to practical jokes, but it was a promise he failed to keep.   After the final incident,  the Grand Duchess left Darmstadt for good. 

The couple have a two-and-half-year old daughter, Princess Elisabeth

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