Monday, August 2, 2010

80th birthday for Princess Anna of Hesse

August 2, 1916

Princess Anna, the Landgravine of Hesse, recently celebrated her 80th birthday at Frankfurt-on-Main. According to the Marquise de Fontenoy, she is the only member of the Prussian royal family who is a Roman Catholic, and "as such an object of great dislike to the kaiser.
The Landgravine is an "extremely clever and enormously wealthy princess." Her recent birthday was the object of "all sorts of laudatory articles in the German press. She has been described as a "marvelous intellectual" with a superb "physical victor." This platitudes are on contrast of pre-war press coverage of the war, where the Princess was described as suffering from "senile dementia," and was irresponsible and crazy.

When the Kaiser learned that the princess had converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1901, he wrote her a "perfectly abominable letter," where he reproached her for abandoning the Lutheran church. The Kaiser denounced the Catholic faith as "idiotic superstition." "I hate from the bottom of my heart this religion which thou has embraced and which I shall always persecute."
The Landgravine, refused to deny existence of the latter, and the Kaiser himself "never attempted to disavow these views, knowing full well that if he attempted to do son," the landgravine, who has always "heartily disliked him, would not hesitate to publish, both in Germany and to foreign countries," his indiscreet correspondence.
The Landgravine is a niece of the late Kaiser Wilhelm I, as she is the only daughter of his younger brother, Prince Carl of Prussia. Anna is the sister of the late Prince Friedrich Carl of Prussia, known as a the "Red Prince," and an active soldier in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.
Her eldest surviving son "was up-to-the war a popular figure in London society." He is blind, "yet celebrated as a musician, as a pianist, and as a composer."
Anne'e eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm, while on a round the world trip, "vanished in mysterious fashion from on board ship," en route from Singapore to Batavia. He left his companions on the deck and was headed to his cabin for a nap, when he "was observed descending the companionway, and was never seen again."

Princess Anne married Landgrave Friedrich in 1853, nearly nine years after the death in childbirth of Friedrich's first wife, Grand Duchess Alexandra of Russia.
Friedrich died in 1884. Prince Alexander Friedrich, the eldest surviving son, is the present head of the House of Hesse. His heir is his brother, Prince Friedrich Karl, who is married to Wilhelm II's youngest sister, Princess Margarete of Prussia.

The portrait of Anna was painted by Winterhalter.

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