Friday, December 13, 2013

Queen Mary helps her family

December 13, 1913

There is much talk in London's "social and political worlds" about Queen Mary and her difficult talks of "solving the problems of how to deal with her poor relations."

According to the New York Times,  the Teck family, to which Queen Mary is a member, "is among the poorest in Europe, along with the grand ducal family of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, "form a big contingent who look to their solitary well-to-relative to help them keep their heads above water."

Queen Mary's greatest burden is her brother, Prince Alexander of Teck and his wife and family.  After King George succeeded to the throne in 1910, Queen Mary gave her brother "a set of rooms in Windsor Castle" and provided him with an allowance of $5000 a year.  This arrangement now "does not answer very well."

The rooms are apparently not big enough for the Prince and his wife and their three children, as they now also need a nursery and a schoolroom.    Queen Mary "solved the problem" by giving her brother
two rooms in an old vicarage at Windsor," which will be used as a schoolroom and the nursery.  The three children now live with their nurse.

Unfortunately,  the Prince and Princess cannot make ends meet on the Queen Mary's annual gift.  The Teck establishment is small.  They employ two maids, a butler and the children's nurse.  Their living expenses and staff wages do not exceed $4000 per year.

Prince Alexander has a private annual income of about $2,500, and his wife's receives $500 per annum.  This leaves the couple with about $4,000 per year, but the sum is "quite insufficient to meet their travelling expenses, the Princess's dress bills, and the hotel bills when in London."

Prince Alexander has several options to increase his income.  He could make a "substantial salary" as an agent for one of London's largest firms of stockbrokers. He also could earn  money by "introducing people into society" or receiving commissions from London jewelers or other businesses.

Queen Mary is adamantly against her brother working.  Her word "among her own family is law."

Mary prefers for her family to "keep up appearances out of her own pocket," but the burden is becoming "increasingly heavier."

Not long ago, Queen Mary had to pay a high hotel bill and a "modiste's account for her sister-in-law," and it is becoming obvious to the Court that the the queen will either have to allow Prince Alexander to find a job and support his family, or send "the family to live in retirement in Germany."

Prince Alexander and his family are not the only relatives who are a financial burden on the queen.  The house of Mecklenburg-Strelitz is "practically dependent on the bounty of the English royal house."

The old Duke has an allowance of $50,000 per year, which is paid not by the king but by the State.     The money is not sufficient for the family's needs.  The hereditary grand duke is said to be a "young man of extremely expensive habits."  During a recent visit to England, Queen Mary had to "replenish" the young man's "purse on more than one occasion."  She also paid his gambling debts.

The Queen's "poor relations" cost her about $50,000 per year, and there is growing concern by members of  the late King Edward's family about the royal bounty given to the "impoverished princelings," especially as Queen Mary herself was a "very poorly dowered bride."

King Edward made it clear that the "Tecks and their relatives" could not look to him for help. It was his policy to "discourage the presence in England of impecunious royalties."

Queen Mary has surrounded herself "with her own relations," but she is now realizing that the costs are more than she bargained for.  An exodus of Mary's poorer relations" is expected, and will happen when the Prince of Wales begins to "exercise the authority and influence" as the heir apparent."

[I have my doubts about some of the facts in this article.  Princess Alexander of Teck was a British princess by birth, a royal highness: Princess Alice of Albany, a first cousin of King George.   They did live in the Henry III Tower in the first years of their marriage.  In 1913, they had two, not three children: Princess May and Prince Rupert.  A second son, Maurice, died in infancy in 1910. A lot of time was spent at Alice's childhood home, Claremont, in Esher, the residence of her widowed mother, the Duchess of Albany.   The article also neglected to mention that the Dowager Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a British princess,  Augusta of Cambridge,  Queen Mary's aunt.   The two were very close. 

Augusta, who died in December 1916, received £3000 a year from the British government. This was the arrangement made in her marital treaty.  She married her first cousin, Hereditary Grand Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1843.  Their surviving son, Adolf Friedrich, succeeded his father in 1904.   The Mecklenburg-Strelitz grand ducal family was one of the wealthiest royal families in Europe. 

Adolf Friedrich V died in 1914, and was succeeded by his only son, Adolf Friedrich VI, who committed suicide in 1918.  The younger Adolf Friedrich left his entire fortune of 30 million marks to the Duke Christian Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the younger son of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, if he moved to Neustrelitz and succeeded as Grand Duke, otherwise, the inheritance would drop to 3 million marks.  

Thus, the Strelitz family was not in dire straits.  Augusta stopped receiving the annuity in the summer of 1914, just before the outbreak of the first world war.]


Manuel Diezx said...

Very interesting. I never knew this side of QM
Thanks for reporting it

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

if you read my commentary at the end, you will realize that the story is most false. The Strelitz family was very rich. The government did not the "old duke" any money. An annuity was paid to the dowager Grand Duchess as a part of her marriage treaty in 1843.