Thursday, January 10, 2013

The most eligible of Princesses of 1903

January 9, 1903
Princess Xenia of Montengro

The Los Angeles Times has compiled a list of Europe's most eligible princesses.  They say that the "crop available for royal brides" is small and "mostly ugly."

The paper thinks that it is "imperative to find brides for the heirs to the thrones of Germany and Russia, for the King of Spain, and for the less young royalties."

So who will be the eligible princesses of 1903.  The writer notes that so many young royals are "so closely related," and cites several "experts" who are "beginning to picture to themselves a future rules by madmen and idiots."

The royalties of Europe are all cousins in "some degree."   Having the same great-grandparents is seen as "a fact that doesn't promise well for the future of monarchical institutions."

There are three dozen sovereign families in continental Europe, and they can "muster no more than twenty Princesses," eligible for marriage.

Six belong to the Habsburg family.  Six to "various branches of the Bourbons."   Two princesses of Hanover, and the others "mostly to the minor German and grand ducal families."

Fourteen Princesses are Roman Catholic, and four are Protestant.  Two of the eligible Princesses "profess the orthodox Greek faith."

The two most eligible Princes are Grand Duke Michael of Russia, heir presumptive to the Russian throne and Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany.  Michael's wife must be Orthodox, although, of course, she can convert before the wedding.

Crown Prince Wilhelm's bride must be Protestant.  It is rare for a Roman Catholic princess to abjure her faith and convert to the Lutheran church.

The two most eligible Orthodox princesses who might be considered as a bride for Michael are Princess Xenia of Montenegro and a one of Michael's cousin's, a Russian grand duchess of "scanty personal attractions."

Princess Xenia, 21, is a "brunette beauty of semi-oriental type," although the writer notes, having seen a photograph of the princess, she is "not as beautiful as all Princesses ought to be, but so few really are."

The princess has the benefit of having been educated in Paris and St. Petersburg.  She has "fashionable accomplishments," with "none of the rustic limitations" of being the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Montenegro, who "dispenses justice to his subjects under an ancient tree in front of his modest residence."

Nicholas of Montenegro has done well in securing good marriages for his daughters.  Princess Elena is now the Queen Consort of Italy. Anna is married to Prince Franz Josef of Battenberg,  Two daughters, Militza and Anastasia are married to Russian Grand Dukes, which may help pave the way toward an marriage between Xenia and Grand Duke Michael.

Princess Xenia is said to have had several suitors from "minor royalties," but one possible suitor is said to be the Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine, who divorced from Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh in 1901.

The late Queen Victoria, grandmother to both the Grand Duke and Princess Victoria Melita, was said to be "greatly disturbed" by the marital breakdown.

Other suitors, including the Grand Duke, whose cousin, Franz Josef, is married to Xenia's sister Anna, will have to wait while there is still hope of arranging a marriage with Grand Duke Michael.

But if this engagement does not come about,  Michael may have to seek a wife "among the Protestant Princesses of England and Germany," who would be willing to convert to the Orthodox faith.

One real royal beauty, who "stands high in the imperial marriage mart" is Archduchess Maria Henrietta of Austria.  She is nineteen years old, and a "distant cousin" of Emperor Franz Josef. 

The archduchess is the daughter of Archduke Friedrich, one of the wealthiest members of the Habsburg family.  He is a brother of Queen Maria Cristina of Spain, mother of the young (and eligible) King Alfonso XIII.
Archduchess Maria Henrietta

Marie Henriette was raised at her father's Hungarian estate, although she spends her winters in Vienna, which of course is the social season, where can be strutted out for the purpose of securing the right husband.  No doubt her mother, the formidable Archduchess Isabella, is scouring the Almanach de Gotha for the right husband for all of her lovely girls.

A "great favorite" in Vienna's society, the "radiant" Marie Henriette  might be the right choice for King Alfonso, but the Pope is said to "object to the marriage of first cousins."

Alfonso is said to have a "keen eye" for a lovely bride.  He and his mother will leave shortly for a tour of the Continent to pick out a "Queen of Spain.

Unfortunately for the king, his bride has to be selected "on account of family and political considerations," and not on her vital statistics.  The Spanish premier will also have a "say in the selection."

Princess Maria Josepha of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, a granddaughter of the  King Ferdinando of Sicily, is also seen as a notable exception to the ugly princess.

The Bourbons lost their Sicilian throne more than thirty years ago, and now live in Cannes.  The young princess is "tall and active." She loves yachting and riding, and she is a "crack lawn tennis player."

Now 22, Princess Maria Josepha, is seen as an "admirable match for a Roman Catholic Prince," and would not be eligible for the "German and Russian throngs."

Princess Wiltrud
The "most beautiful of all the marital princesses of Europe" is 19-year-old Princess Wiltrud of Bavaria.  She is also a "brunette, with wonderful dark eyes and long, brown, wavy hair."

She would shine brightly, even if she were not a royal princess.  She is a "musician of high order, a painter of merit, a linguist and a classical scholar."  She rides and fences, and has a reputation as an excellent shot.

One blemish is the taint of madness that runs through the Wittelsbach veins, "cultivated by repeated intermarriages."

Britain has high hopes that the German Crown Prince will marry one of Edward VII's nieces, perhaps Princess Alice of Albany, the daughter of the late Duke of Albany, and elder sister of the young Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

She isn't what "you would call a beauty," but she is "intelligent and nice," and she comes nearer to Wilhelm II's "idea of a royal hausfrau than any haughty Austrian or Russian princess."

Princess Alexandra of  Cumberland
It is more likely that the young German Crown Prince will marry another second cousin, Princess Alexandra of Cumberland, and "settle the old feud between the Hohenzollerns and the Hanovers," which began after Prussia absorbed Hanover, and taking the Welf family fortune. 

[For all her beauty and accomplishments, and family connections, Princess Xenia of Montenegro never married.  She died in Paris on March 10, 1960.

Archduchess Maria Henrietta was married in 1908 to Gottfried Prince of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst.  She died on September 2, 1956.

Princess Maria Josepha (Giuseppina) never married.  She died at Cannes on July 22, 1971.

Princess Wiltrud and the Duke of Urach
Princess Wiltrud was the second wife of Wilhelm, Duke of Urach. They were married in 1924.  She died in March 1975.

Princess Alice of Albany married in 1904 to Prince Alexander of Teck.  In 1917, Prince Alexander renounced his German titles and was created Earl of Athlone.  Princess Alice died in 1981.

Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1905.  Cecilie's brother, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwrn married Princess Alexandra of Cumberland in 1904.

King Alfonso XIII married Princess Ena of Battenberg in 1906.

Grand Duke Michael, who was killed by the Bolsheviks in June 1918, contracted a morganatic marriage with Natalia Wulfert.]


Bea said...

Marlene, did the ones who didn't marry just live with their families? I wonder what a princess of this time would do with herself. This was an interesting post and nice to see their pictures as well. Bea

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

All sorts of reasons. Perhaps not really interested or not well or not bright.

Mel said...

Princess Xenia(aka Ksenija) of Montenegro, who never married, was quite well and quite bright. She assisted he father, King Nikola, with political matters, she was the first woman in the Balkans to drive, and she was an extraordinary photographer. There was an exhibition of Princess Xenia's photographic work just a few years ago.