Friday, April 7, 2017

The Duchess of Cambridge has died

April 6, 1889

The Duchess of Cambridge died today at her apartment in St. James's Palace.  She was 91 years old.   Her death was due, according to The Times, "not to disease of any kind, but to a failure of vital, power,  natural at her time of life."  The Duchess had "retained to the last not only her full mental faculties," but also a "degree of physical health."

The Duchess of Cambridge was the "last surviving link between the present day and the children of George III."   She married in 1818 to Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge,  the King's seventh son.

Her first child, Prince George, the present Duke of Cambridge, was born a year later, and she has lived to "see and commemorate the completion of his seventieth year."

The Duke of Cambridge died in 1850.  Seven years later, Princess Mary, the widow of the Duke of Gloucester, died, the last of King George III's children.   The Duchess of Cambridge's death "cuts the last link with that generation of the Royal Family, and it removes one who was loved and esteemed by later representatives."

One of her last acts before departing for Biarritz, Queen Victoria paid a "farewell visit" to the Duchess.

The official announcement of the death of Her Royal Highness was published in the Court Circular.

St. James's Palace, April 6, 1889

"Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge passed away painlessly at half-past 12 to-day, sinking rapidly at last from the effects of advance age alone."

Although the Duchess'  health was "somewhat precarious," her doctors believed that there was no immediate danger and her son, the Duke of Cambridge went to Ireland "in the belief that he might safely leave his mother."

Earlier today, an "alarming change" was observed in the Duchess' condition.  Word was sent to the Princess of Wales, who immediately left Marlborough House and was at the bedside of the Duchess for the final moments of her life.

A "telegraphic message" was sent to the Duke of Cambridge in Ireland, who is now on his way to London.   Messages were also sent by telegraph to the Queen at Windsor and to members of the Royal Family who are abroad.  Immediately upon receiving the news of her aunt's death, the Queen ordered a special train to return to London.  She arrived at Paddington at 4:40 pm. and was driven to St James's Palace and stayed an hour at the late Duchess' late home.

The Queen received with "much grief the mournful intelligence of the death of Her Majesty's beloved aunt, the Duchess of Cambridge."

The Princess Auguste Wilhelmine Luise, the third daughter of Friedrich, Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, was born on July 25, 1797.  Her early life was spent at her father's Court "when the whole period of Europe of agitated and convulsed by the conquests of Napoleon.

On May 7, 1818,  Princess Augusta married the Duke of Cambridge in Hesse-Cassel.  A second wedding took place a month later in London and was "celebrated privately" due to Queen Charlotte's ill-health.  The Duke of Cambridge, who held the rank of Field Marshal, served as Hanover's Governor General, a position "he filled for many years to the satisfaction of the country.  It was during his tie in Hanover that he met Princess Augusta,

In 1819,  the Duchess gave birth to a son, Prince George, the present Duke of Cambridge and Commander-in-Chief.  In 1822, she gave birth to a daughter, Princess Augusta, who in 1843 married the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.    The third and last child, Princess Mary, was born in 1833.  She married in 1866 to Prince Franz, the Duke of Teck.

All three children were born in Hanover.

Shortly after receiving the news of her mother's death, the Hereditary Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and her husband made plans to leave for London and are expected to arrive in time for the funeral.

The couple's strong domestic relationship was noted in a letter written in 1828 by Princess Elizabeth, Dowager Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg to her brother, King George IV:   "I must add a few lines on the amiable conduct of the dear Duchess of Cambridge, who has been all goodness to me, and considers me in everything,  She improves upon one the more one knows her,  Her conduct as both wife and mother is very delightful.  At the first she would be very wrong could be otherwise, for Adolphus  adores her, and she is perfectly sensible of the treasure she possesses in her most perfect  and excellent husband.  The children are charming, and the greatest comfort to me,  Their extreme happiness and ignorance of all cares is quite a blessing to me, and soothes my broken heart.

[Princess Elizabeth was recently widowed.]

The family returned to England after the death of King William IV.   The Duke and Duchess were "extremely popular with all classes of the community."

The Duke of Cambridge was a "zealous and indefatigable support of all our great public charities, and was a warm advocate of their claims."   His support of charitable works was shared by the Duchess, and inculcated into the lives of their three children.

Cambridge Cottage at Kew was the favorite residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  In her final years, the Duchess lived in a suite of rooms in the Ambassadors' Court at St. James's Palace.

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