Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Princess reaches the century mark

HRH Infanta Maria Adelaide Manoela Amelia Micaela Rafaela of Portugal celebrates her 100th birthday.   The youngest of the eleven children of Dom Miguel de Braganza,  Infanta Maria Adelaide was born on January 31, 1912, at St. Jean de Luz, France. (Dom Miguel had three children by his first wife, Elisabeth of Thurn und Taxis, who died several weeks after giving birth to a daughter in 1881.  He married in 1893 for a second time to Princess Marie Therese of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.)
Adelaide was named for her paternal grandmother, Princess Adelheid of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.

During the Second World War, the family lived in Vienna, where the infanta worked as a nurse. She was active in the Resistance movement, arrested and was sentenced to death by the Gestapo, after being accused of listening to the BBC.   But the Portuguese dictator, Antonio Salzar intervened on the Infanta's behalf, stating that she was someone of national heritage.  Infanta Maria Adelaide was a granddaughter of King Miguel.  She was also apparently active in a group called O5, where her code name was Mafalda.  The group helped to hide Jews from the Nazis.

Thanks to Salazar Maria Adelaide was released and deported to Switzerland, where her brother, Dom Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza lived with his wife, Maria Francisca.

After the war, Infanta Maria Adelaide and her family returned to Vienna.

On October 31, 1945, in Vienna, Infanta Adelaide married Nicolaas van Uden (1921-1991), a Dutch national.  She and her new husband planned to go to Africa, but after being allowed to return to Portugal before the repeal of the ban against her family, the plans to move to Africa were dropped.

In 1949, Infanta Maria Adelaide and her husband, a doctor specializing in skin diseases, were able to move to Portugal.   Unfortunately, Dr. van Uden's medical degree was not recognized in Portugal, and he could not practice medicine.  For many years he worked for a research laboratory and other scientific foundations in Portugal.

Infanta Maria Adelaide and her late husband have six children: Adriano Sergio, Nuno Miguel, Francisco Xavier, Filippa Theodora, Miguel Ignacio, and Maria Teresa.

Her nephew, the Duke of Braganza, is the current head of the royal house of Portugal.
For more information about her role in the resistance, see the book, The Hand of Compassion: portraits of Moral Choice during the Holocaust by Kristen Monroe. 

Yesterday, the Infanta's family celebrated her life with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church of Alvalde do Sado.  Two of her children, Nuno and Maria Teresa van Uden attended the service. 

"These honors are a way to convey what she thinks, fears and makes proposals for the future, passing by Christian values," Nuno van Uden told a reporter.

Today, the Portuguese president conferred the Order of Civil Merit on Infanta Maria Adelaide.   She is, according to the official statement, "an example of life by moral stature."

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