Friday, August 1, 2014

Intermarriages don't stop war

August 1, 1914

It is war in Europe as Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany has declared war on Russia, and her Emperor Nicholas II, whose wife, Alexandra, is the Kaiser's first cousin.

According to the Ex-Attache's most recent dispatch in the Chicago Daily Tribune,  the many intermarriages among the European royal houses have failed to stop the escalating war in Europe.

It has been largely assumed that these marriages would "serve to cement offensive and defensive  alliances between the countries which the bride and bridegroom belonged."

But it comes as a shock to see what a "small and insignificant role" these marriages have played in involving all the "great powers of the old world in war."

These matrimonial alliances have "exercised little influence on political alliances in today's Europe. Empress Alexandra and a number of the Grand Duchesses are of German birth, but this did not deter Nicholas II from "embarking upon a war with Germany."

Queen Sophie of the Hellenes is a sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II but her husband, King Constantine I has refused Wilhelm II's entreaties to join the Triple Alliance.

Great Britain is siding with France and Russia.  The Duchesses of Connaught and Albany, who married sons of Queen Victoria, as well as her son-in-law, the elderly Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, were all Germans at the time of their respective marriages.  Christian, a naturalized Briton, serves as a general in the British army.

The widowed Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who remains at Coburg, is a Russian Grand Duchess by birth.  She is "Russian through and through," as the only daughter of Alexander II.  The Dowager Duchess Anastasia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin is also a Grand Duchess of Russia as she is the daughter of the late Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich.   Grand Duchess Anastasia has two daughters: Alexandrine, the wife of the Crown Prince of Denmark, and Cecilie is the wife of the Crown Prince of Germany.

The late Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was also a British prince as he was the second son of Queen Victoria.

Kaiser Wilhelm and his younger brother, Prince Henry, are the sons of a British mother, Princess Victoria, sister of the late Edward VII.

Empress Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elisabeth, the widow of the assassinated Grand Duke Serge, are the sisters of the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.  Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantovich's wife, Elisabeth, is the daughter of the late Duke of Saxe-Altenburg.

Grand Duchess Victoria, the wife of Grand Duke Kirill, second in line to the throne, is a British princess by birth, and is the daughter of the late Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.   Her mother, Grand Duchess Marie is the sister of the late Grand Duke Wladimir and Grand Duchess Marie, born a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Grand Duchess Victoria's older sister, Marie, is the wife of Crown Prince Ferdinand of Roumania.

Fortunately for the Austrians, all the members of imperial house are married to princes or princesses of the sovereign families of Germany, such as Saxony, Bavaria and Württemberg.   Several members of the family are married to members of the former ruling house of Portugal as well as with the Spanish and Italians.  None of the Habsburgs have married members of the British or Russian royal houses.

King George V "recently decreed" that the princes of Battenberg were to be "regarded" as members of the British royal family.   Prince Louis, a British admiral, and First Sea Lord, "was born and bred a German," and has a German title.  He is married to the sister of the Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine and the Empress of Russia.  His wife's brother-in-law, Prince Henry of Prussia, is the ranking officer in the Germany navy.

It is not known if Prince Louis will be allowed to remain in his position due to his German title and origins, although he is a naturalized British national.

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