Friday, July 12, 2019

Two missing princesses .. in the Vatican

In the last few days,  news organizations, including the the New York Times, have reported on the opening of two tombs in the Vatican City's Teutonic Cemetery.

In June, 1983, 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican City employee vanished while walking home in Rome.  There are numerous theories about her death, the most recent being was that she was buried in a tomb in the cemetery.  According to Emanuela's brother, the tomb could be identified by an a statue of an angel pointing to a cemetery.

This led officials to the tomb of Princess Sophie of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein, the eldest of seven children of Ludwig Leopold, Prince of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein and Countess Polyxenia of Limburg-Stirum. 

Sophie was born at Schillingsfürst on December 13, 1758.  She died at Rome on January 13, 1836.  She did not marry.

The present head of the Hohenlohe-Bartenstein is descendant of Sophie's younger brother. Karl Joseph.

The tomb of Duchess Charlotte Friederike of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was also opened.  She was the seventh surviving child of  Duke Friedrich Franz I of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Luise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg Friedrich Franz was created Grand Duke in 1815.

Charlotte was born at Ludwigslust on December 4,1784.  She married her first cousin, Prince Christian Frederik of Denmark (1786-1848), the son of  Hereditary Prince Frederik of Denmark and Duchess Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Christian was visiting Mecklenburg when he met and fell in love with Charlotte.  They were married two years later at Ludwigslust on June 21, 1806.

 Less than a year after the wedding,  Charlotte gave birth to the couple's first child, a son, Christian Frederik at Schloss Plön  on April 8, 1807.  The infant prince lived for only a few hours.

A second son, Frederik Carl Christian, was born at Copenhagen on October 8, 1808. 

Charlotte and Christian settled into a homes in Amalienborg and Sorgenfri.  IThe marriage was not a happy one.  Within two years of marriage, there were reports that the capricious Charlotte was having an affair with her singing teacher, the Swiss-born Edouard Du Puy.    She was forced to leave the court.  Christian divorced her in 1810 and she was sent to live at Horsens.  She would never see her son again.

Charlotte lived for several years in a palace in Horsens.  She also had a home in Aarhus, where she had an active social life, as well as several affairs with Danish officers.    In 1929, she moved to Karlsbad, Germany, remaining there for a year before settling in Rome.  She was baptized as a Lutheran, but converted to the Roman Catholic faith some years later. 

She died at Rome on July 13, 1840 and was buried in the Teutonic Cemetery, which was the final resting places for persons of Germanic origin.

Christian succeeded to the Danish throne in 1839.  He died in 1848 and he was succeeded by his son Frederik VII.   Christian VIII married for a second time to Caroline Amalie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, whose mother was Princess Louisa Augusta of Denmark.  This marriage was childless.

KIng Frederik VII was the last of the Oldenburg dynasty  He died on November 15, 1863.  His first two marriages to Princess Vilhelmine of Denmark and Duchess Caroline Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, were dissolved by divorce.

His third marriage to a commoner Louise Rasmussen was morganatic.

Frederik did not have children.  The Danish throne passed to a kinsman, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a junior branch of the Oldenburg dynasty. 

The Vatican authorized permission for the two tombs to be open.   Emanuela's remains were not found, but adding to the mystery, officials learned that the remains of Princess Sophie or Duchess Charlotte were not in their respective tombs.

A Vatican spokesman issued a statement several hours after the tombs were opened:   “There were no human remains nor funerary urns.”

Princess Sophie's tomb was "completely empty" and Duchess Charlotte's had "no human remains."

The Vatican has no explanation for the two empty tombs.

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