Thursday, February 19, 2015

The heir to Saxe-Weimar's wild youth

February 19, 1905

The recent death of the young Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, leaving her husband, Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst without male issue, has put the heir presumptive, Prince Wilhelm, 52, again into the spotlight.  Prince Wilhelm, a cousin of the Grand Duke, was "exceedingly wild in his younger days and became involved in so many unpleasant scrapes," writes the Marquise de Fontenoy.  He was sent off to the United States with a small allowance.  He remain in the United States, living under an assumed name for some years.

He always lived beyond his means, and was often in "desperate straits," and was forced to find odd jobs as a riding master, store clerk, "even a waiter."  But after he became ill, Prince Wilhelm returned to the bosom of his family, where he was "nursed back to health."

Having sowed all of his wild oats, Prince Wilhelm, the eldest son of Prince Hermann and Princess Augusta, decided to turn his life around.  In 1885, he married Princess Gerta of Isenburg-Büdingen.   The couple have three children, Prince Hermann (February 1886), Albert (December 1886) and Sophie (1888).

The marriage has "turned out fairly well."  Wilhelm has had several "brief lapses from the paths of respectability and godliness," which has meant that he and his family have not been permitted to live in Weimar, but in Heidelberg.  He enjoys spending time with the students at the university in Heidelberg, where he will reminisce "over a friendly mug of beer or a glass of wine."

Princess Gerta is said to be a "sensible, patient" woman with a "forgiving disposition." 
Grand Duchess Karoline died at Weimar on January 17.  She was only 20 years old.

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