March 19, 1903
In her latest dispatch, the Marquise de Fontenoy notes that the "still wonderfully attractive and fascinating" Dowager Grand Duchess Anastasia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin continues to be the "heroine of many romances," as well as of "several episodes which may be described by less euphonious name."
There have been so many rumors about the widowed Grand Duchess -- and mother of the present Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin -- that it is difficult to know which stories are true. When her husband was alive, Anastasia did her best to "embitter" her husband against Kaiser Wilhelm II and turn Schwerin into the "headquarters of Muscovite agitation and policy in Germany."
Anastasia is a Russian Grand Duchess, daughter of Grand Duke Michael, and Princess Cecilie of Baden.
It comes as no surprise that "all sorts of calumnies were started concerning her" in Berlin. Her husband, Grand Duke Franz Friedrich III, "broke his neck by a fall over a low parapet of a bridge" overlooking his villa in Cannes.
But some Berlin newspapers - and reported throughout Europe -- stated that the Grand Duke took his own life due to his wife's "misbehavior." But he suffered from vertigo, and was unlikely to have taken his own life. Duke Johann, who acted as regent for the young Duke Friedrich Franz IV, has "no great affection" for his sister-in-law. He is said to be a close friend of the Kaiser, and has not gone out of is way to "make things pleasant" for Anastasia. Nor has he sought to "put an end to the stories" being published in Berlin and elsewhere.
The most recently rumor also has had its origins in Berlin. Grand Duchess Anastasia is said to have succumbed to the fascination of the 'cour friseur' -- the court hairdresser in Schwerin.