Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Princess of Wied wasn't so nice, after all

April 11, 1902

The German newspapers were full of glowing eulogies of the life of the Dowager Princess of Wied who died at Neuwied on March 22.  The Princess, who was born Princess Marie of Nassau Weilburg, was the widow of Hermann, Prince of Wied, who died in 1864. 

Marie was survived by her two eldest children,  Elisabeth, the Queen Consort of Roumania and Wilhelm, Prince of Wied and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In her most recent column, the Marquise de Fontenoy notes that the Princess "was far from being as saintly, as portrayed, at any rate in her younger years."  The late Prince Bismarck, if he were still alive, "would have had some sardonic remarks" to add to her obituaries.

Princess Marie's great wealth came from the "public gambling tables," at Wiesbaden.  The gambling was abolished by Prussia after the war of 1866.  Prior to this,  gambling was the "chief source of revenue to the ducal house of Nassau."

The Princess was also "far from being a kind or devoted mother to her daughter," Queen Elisabeth of Roumania.   Elisabeth's life as as a "young girl was a singularly unhappy one."  The only time that the young Princess was happy was the time she spent with Grand Duchess Helen of Russia, with whom "she was a great favorite." 

In 1869, Princess Elisabeth married the future King Carol of Roumania.  It has not been a happy marriage, which "culminated in a two years' separation from her husband,"  Elisabeth did not find any sympathy from her mother, "which she was entitled to demand."

The late Princess had a "pronounced talent for political intrigue," to which she "gave her full attention" to the time after the war of 1866, when her brother, Adolf, Duke of Nassau, lost his throne, and the primary source of her revenue, "namely, the gambling tables of Wiesbaden."

Her vitriol was aimed at Prince Bismarck, whom she regarded "as her most bitter foe."  Bismarck, as the German Chancellor, managed to obtain a "quantity of correspondence by her and confidential papers connecting her name with a member of her household."  It is "generally believed" that she married the man "secretly after her husband's death."

The knowledge that the Chancellor had her private papers in his possession and that "he was prepared to make the most of them in necessary."  This threat put a "sudden stop" to the Princess' political activities.  She quickly developed into a "austere and terribly bigoted old woman, whose charities and philanthropies, which extensive, were of the most despotic and tyrannic character."  She had no real "charity of spirit."

Prince Bismarck also put a stop to the "political intrigues of the old Princess Josephine of Hohenzollern by the same means."   In fact, there were quite a number of his "petticoat enemies," members of royal and princely families, whom he was able to "render harmless to his policy and to his interests."  He was able to obtain "awkward evidence, mostly in the shape of correspondence concerning indiscretions of their earlier years."

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