Monday, September 17, 2012

The Duke and Duchess of Orléans agree on a separation

September 17, 1898

The Duke and Duchess of Orléans have agreed to a separation, according to the New York Times.  This announcement comes in spite of efforts made by Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and the leaders of the Royalist Party in France to avert a separation. 

Prince Philippe and Archduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria were married on November 5, 1896 shortly after published reports that the duke would marry Princess Marie Laetitia Napoleon, the widow of Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, "thus uniting the Royalist and Bonapartist claims to the throne."

The Duke of Orléans had also been engaged to his cousin, Princess Marguerite, the daughter of the Duke of Chartres.  He had "jilted her in a most shameful way" for two opera singers.

Former Empress Eugenie used "all of her influence" to prevent a marriage with dowager Duchess of Aosta. By marrying Archduchess Maria Dorothea,  the Duke of Orléans "hoped to gain entree to certain European courts," where, as the pretender to the French throne, he was persona non grata.

But his joy soon turned to disappointment.  The "royal circles that had been open" to Maria Dorothea "shut their doors the moment" the moment she became the Duchess of Orléans.

Nicholas II, who has received Prince Napoleon, Don Carlos,  and "even the disreputable" Prince Victor Napoleon and Dom Miguel of Portugal have all ignored the couple.

During their first year of marriage, the Duke and Duchess stayed at their home at Wood Norton in Twickenham.  The British royals paid no attention and they were "pointedly ignored" at the marriage of Princess Maud of Wales to Prince Carl of Denmark.  They were also "the only royal personages in England" who were not invited to the wedding.

At the "urgent request of Emperor Franz Joseph, the Prince of Wales invited the couple to Sandringham to "meet some aristocratic remnants" of the old Royalist Party in France. 

The visit was not a success.  The "brutal conduct" of the Duke toward his wife was "sufficient to arouse Court gossip to the highest pitch."  It became apparent that the Duke, who has a violated temper, and refuses to control it, and the Duchess were going to live a part.   The Duke is said to be disappointed because the couple do not have any children. 

The Duchess, 31, is a "plain, tall woman of an exceedingly haughty disposition."  She has received the sympathy of "all the European courts" and in royalist circles in France.  It has been "universally admitted" that the Duchess is "much too good" for her husband.

The couple will remain separated as the Roman Catholic church does not recognize civil divorce.

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