Friday, September 25, 2020

Death of the Marchioness of Milford Haven

September 24, 1950

The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven died today at Kensington Palace earlier today, reports the New York Times. She was 87 years old.

She was the eldest surviving granddaughter of Queen Victoria.  The Dowager Marchioness's three surviving children, Princess Alice of Greece, Crown Princess Louise of Sweden, and the Earl Mountbatten of Burma were at her bedside when she died after a three-week illness.

HGDH Princess Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie of Hesse and By Rhine was born at Windsor Castle on April 5, 1863, the eldest of seven children of Princess Alice, who was Queen Victoria's second daughter, and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and By Rhine.   Queen Victoria was present at her birth.

Victoria was 15 years old when she contracted diphtheria. Except for her sister, Elisabeth, everyone in the family became ill.  Already worn out, Princess Alice nursed all of her children but was unable to save her youngest daughter, Marie, who died on November 16.

Alice soon caught the disease and succumbed on December 14, the anniversary of her father, Prince Albert's death.  She was 35 years old.   

Years later, Princess Victoria wrote: My mother's death was an irreparable loss ... My childhood ended with her death, for I became the eldest and most responsible."

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In the summer of 1883, Princess Victoria became engaged to her first cousin once removed, Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921).    Louis was the eldest child of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by the Rhine, Grand Duke Ludwig's younger brother, and his wife, Countess Julia von Hauke, who had served as lady-in-waiting to Tsesarevna  Maria Alexandrovna of Russia.  The future consort of Alexander II, Marie was born a princess of Hesse and By Rhine, and Grand Duke Ludwig's aunt. 

Alexander's marriage was treated as morganatic as Julia was not of equal rank.  Alexander's brother, Grand Duke Ludwig III created Julia H Ill H Countess of Battenberg in 1851.  Seven years later, the Grand Duke elevated Julia and her children to the rank of Prince or Princess of Battenberg with the style of Serene Highness. 

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Although her father disapproved of her engagement, Victoria who espoused liberal views, unusual for a princess of her generation, and Prince Louise were married at Darmstadt on April 20, 1884.   This was a love match.    Prince Louis, who had acquired British nationality several years before his marriage, was an officer in Britain's Royal Navy.   He rose to the rank of Admiral of Fleet and served as First Sea Lord from 1912 through 1914 when he was forced to resign due to his German ancestry.

Prince and Princess Louis were firm favorites of Queen Victoria.  They divide their time between homes in England and at Schloss Heiligenberg at Jugenheim, just south of Darmstadt.

The couple had four children: Alice, who was born in 1885 at Windsor Castle and the widow of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, Crown Princess Louise of Sweden (1889) (the wife of Crown Prince Gustav Adolf), George (1892-1938), and Louis (1900), now Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

World War I forced the separation of Victoria from most of her immediate family.  Two of her sisters, Elisabeth and Alix were in Russia.  Ella was the widow of Grand Duke Serge, a younger son of their great-aunt, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, and Alix who took the name Alexandra Feodorovna when she joined the Orthodox Church, was married to Emperor Nicholas II.    Another sister, Irene, was married to Prince Heinrich of Prussia, the younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.   Victoria's only surviving brother, Ernst Ludwig, was the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.

Before the outbreak of the war, Victoria and her family would often visit Germany and Russia. 

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 By the end of the war,  Ella and Nicholas and Alexandra and their five children were all dead, murdered by the Bolsheviks.  Imperial Germany collapsed.  The Kaiser went into exile in the Netherlands.   Prince and Princess Henry remained in Germany at their home in Schleswig-Holstein.   Although he never abdicated,  Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig lost his throne in November 1918 as the monarchies, grand duchies, and princely states within Imperial Germany were swept away in a wave of republican sentiment.     The grand duke died in October 1937.

On July 14, 1917,  Victoria's first cousin, King George V, renounced all of his German titles and changed the Royal Family's name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  Other members of the Royal family did the same.  Louis and Victoria adopted Mountbatten, the anglicized version of Battenberg.  Four months later, King George V created Louis as Marquess of Milford, Earl of Medina, and Viscount Alderney.  Victoria had been given the option of keeping her own title of Princess, but she chose to be styled as the Marchioness of Milford Haven.

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After receiving word of his cousin's death, King George V ordered a week of mourning.   The Dowager Marchioness's body will be brought to Whippingham on the Isle of Wight, where she will be buried later this week.  The Swedish court and the royal family honored the Crown Princess' mother with two weeks of mourning.

The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven is survived by three of her children,  Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark,  Crown Princess Louise of Sweden, and the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, eight grandchildren: Margarita, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg,  Theodora, Margravine of Baden,  Princess Georg Wilhelm of Hanover,  Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,  Lady Tatiana Mountbatten,  David, 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven,  Patricia, Lady Brabourne, and the Lady Pamela Mountbatten and numerous great-grandchildren, including Prince Charles and Princess Anne of Edinburgh, the children of the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth. 

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She is also survived by her younger sister, Princess Irene, and numerous nieces and nephews.


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