Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Death of Dowager Grand Duchess

July 31, 1942

The Dowager Grand Duchess Marie Anne of Luxembourg died earlier tonight at Doctors Hospital in New York City, reports the Associated Press.  She was 81 years old.    The Grand Duchess had been in the hospital for five weeks following an abdominal operation. Her doctors issued a statement following her death, noting that the operation "could bring her but a temporary relief due to the advanced stage of her ailment."

Grand Duchess Marie Anne was the mother of Grand Duchess Charlotte, the sovereign of the tiny grand duchy in Europe.  She had fled Luxembourg with her daughter and her family when the Germans invaded Luxembourg on May 10, 1940.  They "barely avoided capture" as their car did not leave the country until "the Germans were in sight."   After their arrival in France, Marie Anne and Charlotte  "saw Nazi bombs fall in near-by fields."  Luxembourg's government-in-exile asserted that the Nazis had followed the car and :"deliberately sought the deaths of the occupants."

grand Duchess Marie Anne was born on July 13, 1861, as Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal.  She married Grand Duke Wilhelm of Luxembourg in 1893.

The couple had six daughters.   In 1907, the country's succession law was changed to allow for the succession of Wilhelm's daughters.  During her husband's illness in 1908,  Marie Anne was named as the country's regent.  Wilhelm died in 1912, and was succeeded by their eldest daughter,  Grand Duchess Marie Adelaide.

Marie Anne and her family remained in Luxembourg during the German occupation in the first world war.  In 1919, Marie Adelaide abdicated in favor of her sister, Charlotte.

The Dowager Grand Duchess arrived with Grand Duchess Charlotte in New York City "by way of Lisbon, Portugal, on a trans-Atlantic clipper" in October 1940.

Two of Marie Anne's daughters, Grand Duchess Charlotte, and Princess Hilda of Schwarzenberg, and Charlotte's husband, Prince Felix, were present when she died.   Before she died, she was visited by her sister, the Duchess of Parma, and former Empress Zita of Austria.

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