Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Daughters of the Hereditary Prince of Baden

On July 14, 1775, the Hereditary Prince of Baden – Charles Louis – married his first cousin, Princess Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. At the time of her marriage, Amalie was the twenty-one-year-old daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Henriette Karoline of Palatine-Zweibrücken, a woman so respected for her intellect that she was known as "The Great Landgräfin." As the sister of a Queen consort of Prussia and a Tsesarevna of Russia, it was only fitting that Amalie was given an impressive husband as well. Although the newlyweds were just one year apart at the time of their wedding, Amalie did not find much happiness in her cousin-husband due to her father-in-law's rather cold treatment of her and her husband's immaturity. However, she inherited her mother's wit and intelligence and soon used these qualities to her advantage by becoming the fully dominant partner in the marriage. Despite Amalie's dislike for her husband (who did not outlive his father and thus, did not succeed him as the Grand Duke of Baden), the two did produce eight children, six daughters and two sons, with just one son dying in infancy.
Despite the family's rather modest lifestyle compared to other noble families, Charles Louis and Amalie made the best of their situation by arranging brilliant matches for their children (especially their daughters) largely due to Amalie's astute political judgment and fortitude on the European scene. By the time of her death in 1832, just one day after her seventy-eighth birthday, she was the mother of a Queen of Bavaria, an Empress of Russia, a Queen of Sweden, a Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and a Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine. Amalie maintained a steady correspondence with her daughters throughout their lives and gave them invaluable advice in regards to their lives as wives and mothers in foreign courts while also constantly reminding them of their duties towards their adoptive lands.

Princess Caroline of Baden, Queen of Bavaria
by Johann Christian von Mannlich, 1817.

The first notable daughter of the Hereditary Prince and Princess of Baden was born Friederike Karoline Wilhelmine in July of 1776 but was later simply known as Caroline. Caroline was the younger twin of another girl, the couple's first child Amalie, but as this daughter never married, not much is known of her life. The Hereditary Princess of Baden was a strict but warm and loving mother to her children, resulting in a comfortable family environment where all her daughters were very close and referred to her as their "dear beloved Mama." Like her mother, Caroline adored the arts and was a talented painter. Once she came of age, she was considered as a possible match for Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, a descendant of the French royal family through the Bourbon line. However, the match was quickly dropped out of fear of French opposition. While they were never engaged, it was said that the young and impressionable Caroline fell in love with the handsome French duke and when he was executed on charges of aiding Britain and plotting against Napoleon I in 1804, Caroline adopted a strong dislike for anything French and especially Napoleon himself.
Caroline of Baden around the time of her marriage
by Philip Jacob Becker, 1797.

In 1796, as Napoleon's armies spread into France and drove many German nobles away from their hereditary lands, including Caroline's, she met Maximilian, Duke of Zweibrucken, in Ansbach, a forty-year-old widower with four young children, the twenty-one-year-old girl was shocked to learn he had fallen in love with her. At first, she hesitated to accept his offer of marriage but eventually, due to her mother's persuading and Maximilian's kind nature, she gave in. The two were married in Caroline's home of Karlsruhe on March 9, 1797, and settled down in Maximilian's ducal palace in Mannheim. Caroline got along well with her young stepchildren and became the mother figure they so sorely needed, as they had only lost their mother - Princess Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt (who was actually Caroline's first cousin once-removed, making her stepchildren her second cousins) – a few months before Maximilian and Caroline met. While Caroline got along with the youngest children, Princess Augusta (the future wife of Napoleon's stepson, Eugène de Beauharnais), Caroline Augusta (the future wife of the Crown Prince of Württemberg and later, Emperor Francis I of Austria), and Karl Theodor, she found that her eldest stepson, the ten-year-old Louis (later Ludwig I of Bavaria) was always strained. This was probably due to the fact that unlike his younger siblings, Louis was old enough to remember his mother vividly and Caroline could never replace her in his eyes.
In 1799, Maximilian became Elector of Bavaria and the family moved to the capital of Munich shortly after. By this time, Caroline was pregnant with her first child and in September, she gave birth to a stillborn son. A year later, she would give birth to her first living child, Maximilian Joseph Charles, who would die at the age of two. From 1801 to 1810, she would produce six more daughters, all of whom (except the youngest) would survive past childhood. Extraordinarily enough, she gave birth to two sets of twins back-to-back and even more surprisingly, all four girls and Caroline (a twin herself) survived. The first set of twins were Elisabeth Louise and Amalie Auguste, who became the consorts of the King of Prussia and the King of Saxony respectively. The second set of twins were Marie Anna and Sophia Frederica, who became the consorts of the King of Saxony (the successor to the husband of her elder sister) and a son of the Holy Roman Emperor. Sophia's husband, a simple-minded man, was convinced by his conniving wife to give up his rights to the Austrian throne in place of their eldest son, Franz Joseph I. The ambitious Sophia, often called "the only man at court" was also the mother of the tragic Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico and Karl Ludwig, the father of the pivotal Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Caroline's youngest surviving daughter, Ludovika, made a less impressive marriage than her sisters when she wed a simple Bavarian duke (whose father was her cousin), but like her mother, she produced an impressive broad of daughters, including the famous Empress Sisi, wife to Sophia's son, Emperor Franz Joseph I.
An older Caroline, now Queen of Bavaria 
As evident by their many children, Maximilian and Caroline had a happy marriage and Caroline was just as loving and supportive of her children as her mother had been to her. Although she disliked Napoleon, her husband maintained a close relationship with him for political safety and it was due to this clever thinking that Napoleon had Bavaria elevated to the status of a kingdom in 1806, making Maximilian king and Caroline his queen. Caroline was well-suited to her role as queen consort, using her intellect to improve the welfare of the Bavarian people and her passion for the arts to transform Munich into a center for culture. The only apparent issue was that Caroline, who was allowed to maintain her Protestant religion when she married the Catholic Maximilian, was a Protestant queen in a Catholic-dominated court but this issue was resolved when a wave of religious tolerance swept through Bavaria and established more Protestant traders and dealers in the kingdom.
In 1825, Maximilian died, leaving the forty-nine-year-old widow at the mercy of her stepson Louis, now Ludwig I of Bavaria. His childhood dislike for the well-loved Bavarian queen still firmly in place, Ludwig tried to send her away from Munich. Caroline fought this but eventually compromised by moving to Tegernsee Castle in the country, which Maximillian had built for her before his death. She remained here until her death in 1841 at the age of sixty-five. Although Ludwig I never had much love for his stepmother, he was outraged at the lack of respect she received from the Catholic clergy at her funeral due to her Protestant faith. The Protestant clergy was not allowed to enter the church, so the funeral service had to be conducted outside and the visiting Catholic clergy wore ordinary clothes instead of their religious vestments. When the service reached its climax, the coffin of the Bavarian queen was placed in its tomb with no ceremony whatsoever. Ludwig was so angered at this insult to a member of the royal family that he softened his staunch pro-Catholic views and took a more adaptable approach to Protestantism that would last throughout his reign.
Empress Elizabeth Alexeivna of Russia (Borovikovsky, 1813)
           Caroline's next youngest sister, Princess Louise Maria Auguste, was born on January 24, 1779, and at her birth, she arrived into the world so small and frail that the doctors who delivered her warned her parents that she might not live long. They were proven wrong, as Louise managed to hang onto life and gain strength in the loving family environment her parents created for their children. Arguably her mother's favorite daughter, she would remain close to her throughout her entire life, from the happy days of her childhood to her death. Like the rest of her siblings, her mother ensured she had a well-rounded education. She studied history, geography, philosophy, literature, and could speak both French and German. She was known for her beauty and was acknowledged as the most handsome of her sisters. Described as having a "soft, melodious voice, and a beautiful oval face, with delicate features, a Greek profile, large almond-shaped blue eyes and curly ash blond hair," it was no wonder she was regarded as one of the most beautiful women in Europe at the time.
 When word of Louise's beauty reached the ears of Catherine the Great of Russia, who was in the process of searching for a bride for her favorite grandson – the Tsarevich Alexander – she quickly invited the thirteen-year-old Louise to the Russian court along with her younger sister, the eleven-year-old Frederica. Louise already had familial connections to the Russian royal family – her aunt, the late Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt (known as the Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeievna in Russia) had been the first wife of Catherine the Great's son, Grand Duke Paul.With no one but her younger sister to accompany her, the naïve and inexperienced Louise was immediately successful at charming the Russian Empress, who was taken by the young girl's beauty and charm. Even better, Louise quickly took to the tall and handsome Alexander, who was at first very reluctant to marry and extremely shy around his possible betrothed. At first, Louise mistook his remoteness for dislike but eventually, the young teenagers moved past this awkwardness and warmed to each other. Soon, Alexander was telling his parents and grandmother that he would like to marry Louise and the betrothal was underway.
The Tsarita Elizabeth of Russia (Le Brun, 1795)

Before the wedding, Louise learned Russian and converted to Russian Orthodoxy, taking the name of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeievna. The fourteen-year-old Louise wed Alexander on September 28, 1793, and it was said that the couple made such an attractive pair that it almost seemed like two angels were getting married, to which the ecstatic Empress referred to as "a marriage between Cupid and Psyche." Louise, who wrote to her mother of her love for her husband, was admired by the Russian courtiers for her steely determination to become Russian in every sense and were further charmed by her kind nature and modesty in a court filled to the brim with dishonesty and licentiousness. However, it was this very moral corruption and sexual intrigues that appalled the pure Elizabeth. There was also the fact that a huge rivalry between Catherine and her son Paul existed, along with rival courts, so poor Elizabeth and Alexander had no one to rely on but each other in this tumultuous world, deepening their already blossoming relationship. Elizabeth would later write of this period, "Without my husband, who alone makes me happy, I should have died a thousand deaths." This tension between the magnificent court of Catherine and the militaristic one of Paul would cease to exist with the death of Catherine the Great in late 1796, making Paul I the Emperor of Russia. Paul was an unpredictable man with an explosive temper, which ensured that he was not very popular with his people. His wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna, was not much better, as she behaved coldly towards her more beautiful and popular daughter-in-law. At least Elizabeth could take solace in the comfort of her husband, but unfortunately, their relationship would soon begin to fall apart one Alexander's eye started to stray. The romantic Elizabeth was heartbroken when she realized her husband had begun to give his affections to other court ladies and now, in an alien world with a husband who had effectively abandoned her, a cruel mother-in-law, and a father-in-law she had nothing but distaste for, it was no wonder Elizabeth sought friendships.
She supposedly found her comfort in the arms of no other than Alexander's best friend, the debonair and witty Polish prince, Adam Czartoryski, who was nearly ten years her senior. It was after her possible dalliance with Czartoryski began that Elizabeth, who had been unable to conceive with Alexander for five years, she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, in May of 1799. The court and Paul himself wasted no time in acknowledging the impossibility of how two blonde-haired, blue-eyed parents could produce a dark-haired child and identified Czartoryski as the father through gossip. While there was no concrete proof that Elizabeth and the Polish prince had engaged or were engaging in a sexual tryst, it was said that Alexander encouraged his best friend's passion for his wife so Alexander could freely chase after other women. While it is unknown how strongly Elizabeth felt for Czartoryski, he did admit his love for her in his journals and his feelings were threatening enough for Paul to send him away on a diplomatic mission to Italy. Unfortunately, the little Maria did not live for long. Just a little over a year after her birth, she died of a teething infection, much to Elizabeth's sorrow, as evident by a letter to her mother, "Not an hour of the day passes without my thinking of her, and certainly not a day without my giving her bitter tears. It cannot be otherwise so long as I live, even if she were to be replaced by two dozen children." The marriage of Alexander and Elizabeth, although still cordial, grew further emotionally distant.
Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna of Russia (Mosnier, 1806)
Everything changed for the young couple when Paul was murdered in his bedroom by a group of conspirators the night of March 23, 1801, and it was said that both Alexander and Elizabeth knew about the conspirators' plans before the assassination took place, leaving Alexander with a deep sense of guilt that would remain with him until his death. Now, the politically inexperienced Alexander and Elizabeth, both still in their early twenties, were Emperor and Empress of Russia. The weight of their new responsibilities developed further cracks in their relationship, as Alexander was too possessed by his guilt to truly love his wife and the gentle Elizabeth could only watch as he moved further and further away from her. Elizabeth, although desiring of a more simple and tranquil lifestyle than the one she was thrust into, did her best to be the calm, steady rock her husband sorely needed while doing her duty to preside over court ceremonies and engage in charitable efforts. While Alexander treated his wife in an offhand manner, he was civil towards her in public ceremonies and made sure to take his meals with her. And yet, it was another further blow to Elizabeth when he began a romantic affair in 1803 with the Polish noblewoman Maria Naryshkina, who became the Emperor's mistress for fifteen years with the blessing of her own husband. Known as "The Aspasia of the North" and described as a woman "without any merit other than the charm of her beauty", she paraded her position openly for all the Court and Elizabeth to see and even tried to have Alexander divorce his wife and marry her instead. While this stunt failed, she did have at least four illegitimate daughters by Alexander, all of them dying young (the eldest reached the age of sixteen). She also had a son who she claimed was Alexander's child but he never admitted paternity, casting doubt on the child's true parenthood. While Alexander was convinced to set her aside in 1818 and go back to his wife, he would always refer to her as family.
Poor, jilted Elizabeth became withdrawn and resolved to withstand this humiliation in silence, as befitted her gentle nature. Although Alexander was never faithful to her, it was his interactions with her that resolved him of some of the guilt raging about his tormented psyche. It was Elizabeth he went to when he was conflicted on a specific matter and it was Elizabeth he relied on for knowledge of current events as, in his words, "she was more of a reader than him." But this did not stop Elizabeth from engaging in an affair of her own with a handsome staff captain, Alexis Okhotnikov, in 1804 when she was twenty-four and he was just one year her junior. Like Czartoryski, Alexis fell deeply in love with the beautiful Russian empress, calling her his "little wife" and his "goddess". According to Elizabeth's sister-in-law, the future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Alexei would sneak into Elizabeth's room through a window during the day and the pair would spend nearly three hours together behind closed doors. It was soon after her affair with Okhotnikov began that once again, Elizabeth became pregnant. In November of 1806, Elizabeth gave birth to a second daughter, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexandrovna, and again rumors swirled that the child was not Alexander's. Although Alexander recognized that in all likelihood, the girl wasn't his, he claimed paternity, yet was supposedly distant and uncaring towards the baby girl.
Elizbeth in her later years, her beauty largely faded (1821)
Just months after the birth of Elizabeth, called "Lisinka" by her mother, Okhotnikov was killed in a suspicious manner, leaving many to assume that Alexander or his brother, Grand Duke Konstantin, had ordered his death. But the real tragedy occurred fifteen months after the birth of Lisinka, when she too died of a teeth infection, just like her elder sister. Elizabeth was heartbroken – "Now," she wrote to her mother, "I am not longer good for anything in this world, my soul has no more strength to recover from this last blow." It was the death of Lisinka that brought Alexander and Elizabeth closer for a time and she remained his strongest supporter throughout the Napoleonic Wars, both personally and politically. While the couple was still in their thirties at this time, they seem to have given up any and all hope that they would produce any children, much less an heir, paving the way to the throne for whichever brother of Alexander survived the longest.
As the years passed by, Alexander became engrossed in religious mysticism and tried to make an effort towards redemption by forsaking Maria Naryshkina and spending more time with his wife. The reconciliation between husband and wife surprised many, even the Empress herself. By this time, as she entered her forties, her famed beauty had faded and her health had begun to take a drastic turn for the worse. She suffered from a lung condition and a nervous indisposition by 1825 and at the recommendation of her doctors, she traveled to Taganrog with Alexander in hopes that its temperate climate might cure her. It was here that Alexander and Elizabeth had their last moments of happiness together, harkening back to their childhood romance all those years ago. While Elizabeth's health did not improve, Alexander suddenly came down with a cold a month after they arrived in Taganrog, which developed into typhus in a matter of weeks. On December 1, 1825, Emperor Alexander I of Russia died in the arms of his wife at the age of forty-seven. Despite their tumultuous relationship, the loss of her husband sapped what little energy Elizabeth had left and truly broke her spirits. She wrote, again to her mother, "I do not understand myself, I do not understand my destiny... What am I to do with my will, which was entirely subjected to him, with my life, which I loved to devote to him?" Three days after his death, she wrote to her, "Do not worry too much about me, but if I dared, I would like to follow the one who has been my very life."
The Dowager Empress was much too weak to leave Taganrog for her husband's funeral in St. Petersburg. When she finally attempted to make the journey back months later, she felt so sick she had to stop at Belyov. It was here that in the early hours of May 16, 1826, one of her lady's maids found her bed in her bed from heart failure, aged forty-seven. She was put to rest beside her husband in the St. Peter and Paul Fortress and St. Petersburg after years of endless suffering and sorrow, tragedy and resilience.

Frederica of Baden, Queen of Sweden (Skjolebrand, 1850)

           The third daughter of the Charles Louise of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt was Princess Friederike Dorothea Wilhelmina, known as Frederica (and affectionately as "Frick" by her family), born on March 12, 1781. Like her sisters, she was given a well-rounded education in subjects like history, literature, the arts, dancing, and etiquette but unlike her other sisters, she was described as "intellectually shallow". Regardless, she was still a beauty, which seemed to run in the family, but she was also said to have a weak constitution, as she suffered from rheumatism from the age of two. When she was eleven, she accompanied her sister Louise to the court of Catherine the Great of Russia to be inspected as possible brides for her grandsons, Alexander and Constantine. The Empress was duly impressed with the young girls' beauty, intelligence, morals, and manners and in the end, it was the shy, blonde Louise who snagged the heir to the throne, Alexander, while Frederica failed to capture the interest of the brunette, bubbly Frederica. Frederica went home to Baden laden with expensive gifts and compliments from the formidable, old Empress while Louise remained behind to marry Alexander. Although Frederica failed to gain the affection of Grand Duke Constantine, she probably benefited in the end, as evident by the horrible treatment Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the eventual wife of Constantine, would suffer at his hands. Eventually, Frederica would marry even higher than that of being a Grand Duchess of Russia – she would wed the King of Sweden.
King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden had been crowned at the age of just fourteen when his father, Gustav III was assassinated in early 1792. Descended from the Prussian royal family through his paternal grandmother and the British and Danish royal families through his mother, Gustav had a certainly impressive bloodline compared to the Grand Dukes of Russia. When he was sixteen, he was betrothed to Princess Louise-Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin but the engagement fell through when the young, impetuous king fell in love with a beautiful Swedish noblewoman and broke off the engagement in an effort to abdicate and elope with her. This plan fell through when the astute woman declined this offer. With the engagement to the Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin now null, Gustav was encouraged by his family to visit the court of Catherine the Great so that a betrothal between himself and one of her granddaughters, the Grand Duchess Anna Pavolovna, might be arranged. However, although he at first desired to wed the Russian princess, he broke off all talks of an engagement when he learned that the Grand Duchess would not convert from Russian Orthodoxy to Lutheranism upon becoming queen. But it was here at the Russian court, upon meeting the beautiful Louise of Baden (now the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeievna) the impressionable Swedish king, who always had a weakness for beautiful women, fell in love with Elizabeth's sister, Frederica, upon being presented a portrait of her and resolved to take her as his wife.
The King and Queen of Sweden (Forsslund, 1797-1800)
Gustav traveled to Erfurt to see Frederica for himself in August of 1797 and was so taken with her that a marriage was arranged immediately, much to the surprise of Frederica's family. The eighteen-year-old King and his sixteen-year-old bride were married in Stockholm in late October of 1797 and settled in the Haga Palace, which was much to Frederica's taste. She became beloved by the Swedish people for her beauty and had no trouble getting along with her husband's family, especially her kind mother-in-law, unlike her older sister Elizabeth Alexeivna, who had a turbulent relationship with her in-laws. Nevertheless, like nearly all girls in her position, Frederica was homesick at first and had a difficult time adjusting to the strict decorum of the Swedish court. This caused her to isolate herself and become quite shy during formal occasions, as she preferred solitude over ceremony. Her marriage suffered at first, with the inexperienced Frederica being unaccustomed to her husband's intense sexual needs, frustrating him and causing her to become even further introverted. While the marriage improved once she began to deliver children, she would always believe that they were not sexually compatible, as the king was in her bedroom so much (his devoutness prevented him from engaging in extramarital affairs) that members of the royal council felt obligated to ask the king directly to "spare the queen's health." Gustav was overprotective of his wife's sexual innocence and went as far as to replace all her young maids of honor with older, married ladies in 1800 due to their "frivolous behavior".
Frederica would give her husband a total of five children, with just one son dying in infancy. Their first child, the Crown Prince Gustav, was born in late 1799 and was followed by three sisters – Sophie in 1801, Amalia in 1805, and Cecilia in 1807. The Crown Prince would go on to marry Princess Louise Amelie of Baden, the daughter of Charles, Grand Duke of Baden and Stéphanie de Beauharnais (niece of Josephine de Beauharnais, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte). Louise's father, Charles, was the younger brother of Frederica, making the Crown Prince Gustav his wife's first cousin. They had one surviving daughter together, Carola of Vasa, who would marry the last King of Saxony. Meanwhile, Princess Sophie would marry her half grand-uncle, Prince Leopold of Baden, who would become the Grand Duke in 1830. Princess Amalia would die unmarried while Princess Cecilia would wed Augusts, the Grand Duke of Oldenburg, her distant cousin. While Frederica was a generally well-liked queen and garnered the public's sympathy due to her obvious sorrow when her husband left for Germany to fight in the War of the Fourth Coalition in late 1805, her husband was unpopular due to his incompetent take on ruling and the failure of his policies.
Queen Frederica in exile (Stieler, 1810)

Gustav's unpopularity came to a head in March of 1809 when he was deposed by a coup d'etat in favor of his uncle, who succeeded him as Charles XIII of Sweden. While Frederica and her children were kept under house arrest at Haga Palace, she was not allowed to see her husband – imprisoned at Gipsholm Castle – out of suspicion of her planning a coup. However, pity for her plight allowed her to keep the title of queen according to terms of the deposition. It was only after Charles XIII's coronation that Frederica and the children reunited with Gustav at Gripsholm, but the whole royal family was still under house arrest. Soldiers still loyal to the former king approached Frederica with the option to have her on declared monarch with her as his regent during his minority but she refused these plans, as "her duty as a wife and mother told her to share the exile with her husband and children." Nevertheless, she still viewed her husband's deposition and her son's exclusion from the line of succession as legally wrongful. In December of 1809, the family finally left Sweden for Germany and settled in the duchy of Baden in February of 1810.
Here was where the true discordance between the couple emerged – Gustav wished for the family to have a simple life in a congregation of the Moravian church in Slesvig or Switzerland while Frederica wanted to settle down in the palace Meersburg at Bodensee, which had been gifted to her by her family. By now, Frederica also refused all of her husband's sexual advances because she didn't want to give birth to exiled royal children. All of this didn't take much for Gustav to decide to go alone to Switzerland in April of 1810, demanding a divorce. While the couple tried to reconcile two further times, once in July and another in September, both failed. Gustav, still admit for a divorce, arranged a proper settlement in February of 1812, renouncing all his assets in both Sweden and abroad along with the custody and guardianship of his children. Thus, Gustav settled permanently in St. Gallen, Switzerland until his death in 1837 at the age of fifty-eight while Frederica remained in the castle Bruchsal in Baden, spending her final years traveling around Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. In her last years, her health weakened greatly until finally, on September 25, 1826, she died at the age of forty-five in Lausanne of a heart disease. She was buried in Schloss and Stifskirche in the small town of Pforzheim, Germany, never to see her adoptive kingdom of Sweden again.

Marie of Baden, Duchess of Brunswick (Artist and Date Unknown)

Wilhelmine of Baden, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine (1810-20)

The last and youngest notable daughters of the Hereditary Prince and Princess of Baden were Princess Marie (born Marie Elisabeth Wilhelmine on September 7, 1782) and Princess Wilhelmine (born Wilhelmine Luise on September 21, 1788). Like their elder siblings, they were given a well-rounded, morally significant education and although both were not as beautiful as their eldest sisters, they were certainly still attractive in the eyes of many. When Marie came of age, she was suggested as a possible spouse for one of the sons of the Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbüttel – specifically, Prince Frederick William.
The fourth son of Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Princess Augusta of Great Britain, a granddaughter of George II of Great Britain and the sister of George III, he was not expected to inherit much of anything as his oldest brother was already married, despite being mentally restricted as well as blind. However, once it became apparent that his eldest brother would have no children and his other two brothers, both older than him, were declared invalids and excluded from the succession, it became apparent that Frederick would be his father's successor. His other siblings included Princess Augusta, the first wife of the future Frederick I of Württemberg, and Princess Caroline, the infamous wife of George IV of the U.K. By the age of eighteen, he had joined the Prussian army as captain and fought in battles against Revolutionary France. He even inherited some land of his own in 1805 when his uncle, the Duke of Oels, died childless and bequeathed his small principality to Frederick.
Marie of Baden around the time of her marraige (around 1800)
          Pressured to marry by his father in order to continue the family line, he agreed to pursue the twenty-year-old Marie in 1802. While at first, Marie was not keen on marrying Frederick William (who was eleven years her senior) due to his reputation for leading a "fast" life, the two eventually warmed to each other and Marie agreed to wed him. They were married on November 1, 1802, in Karlsruhe, Marie's home, but settled in her husband's homeland soon after. She gave him three children, two sons and a stillborn daughter from the years of 1804 to 1808. The eldest, Charles, eventually succeeded his father as Duke of Brunswick (who became the duke himself upon his father's death in 1806) and as he never married or had children, he was succeeded by his younger brother William, who also died unmarried but with a number of illegitimate children.
Two years after Marie's wedding, her younger sister Wilhelmine married her maternal first cousin, the future Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine on June 19, 1804, in Karlsruhe. At the time of their wedding, Wilhelmine was just fifteen years old and Ludwig was over ten years her senior. Their marriage would prove to be extremely unhappy, as Louis was never loyal to cousin-wife. Nevertheless, Wilhelmine would successfully produce seven children – with three sons and one daughter surviving to adulthood. Her children were: the future Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse, Prince Charles, Prince Alexander (whose morganatic marriage would result in the Battenberg/Mountbatten family), and Princess Marie (later known as Maria Alexandrovna as the wife of Emperor Alexander II of Russia). It was openly rumored that Alexander and Marie were not the children of Ludwig II, as Wilhelmine had been living separately from her husband since the birth of their first three children and in 1820 she began a lifelong affair with her chamberlain, Baron August von Senarclens de Grancy, which would explain the twelve year gap between the birth of her third child and the birth of her fourth child from 1809 to 1821.
A young Princess Wilhelmine of Baden (1810)
           During the course of the Napoleonic Wars, Marie's husband, who actively fought as a major-general in the Prussian army, was defeated by the enemy and his duchy fell under French control. Marie and her children fled to the safety of Sweden, taking up the offer of her brother-in-law, King Gustav IV Adolf (the husband of her sister Frederica) to live as guests with his family in Malmo. The family was only allowed to return to Germany in 1807 and while they could not return to the French-controlled Brunswick, they did go back to Karlsruhe to stay with Marie's family. It was here that she became pregnant with her third child, but when she gave birth on December 4, 1808, the child – a girl – was stillborn. Four days later, Marie herself died of puerperal fever at the age of just twenty-five. Her husband eventually became the commander of a corps of freedom-fighters known as "the Black Brunswick" for their black uniforms and gave Frederick the epithet of "The Black Duke." Eventually, Frederick gained back control of his duchy after the first fall of Napoleon in 1813 but his reign did not last long, as he was killed in the Battle of Quatre Bras during the course of the Hundred Days at the age of forty-three. Before his death, to commemorate the memory of his wife, he named several streets, places, and churches in Brunswick after her.
Meanwhile, Wilhelmine – still living separately from her husband – became Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine in 1830 when her father-in-law died and her husband succeeded him. Her tenure did not last long, as she died on January 27, 1836, at the age of just forty-seven after contracting typhoid. She was buried in Darmstadt along with her husband, who died twelve years after her at the age of seventy. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fawzia Faud of Egypt, Queen of Iran

Princess Fawzia Fuad was the eldest daughter of Fuad I, Sultan of Egypt and Sudan and his second wife, Nazli Sabri. Born on November 5, 1921 at Ras El Tin Palace in Alexandria, she was the second child of Faud I and had five siblings, one of whom was from her father’s first marriage.

Fawzia’s father, Faud I, was the seventh son of Isma'il Pasha - also known as Ismail the Magnificent - the Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879. Ismail was well-known for his successful efforts at modernizing these two countries but his administration resulted in serious debt for the Khedivate, which ultimately resulted in the British pushing him in exile. Though he had numerous wives and children, his son Faud was born to one of his many concubines. Faud’s mother, Feriyal Kadinefendi, was a Frenchwoman of noble birth who was captured and sold into slavery in Egypt. When she entered Ismail’s harem in 1867, he was captivated by her beauty and grace, despite the fact that she was fifteen years his junior. He married her that same year and another year after that, she gave birth to Faud in Cairo.

When Egypt was created a sultanate in 1914 and named a protectorate of Britain in 1915, the British overthrew Abbas II in favor of his pro-British uncle, Hussein Kamel. Kamel reigned as Sultan of Egypt and Sudan for three years until his death, after which his only son refused the British-established throne. Thus, the crown passed to Kamel’s nephew, the forty-nine year old Faud I, who changed his title of “sultan” to “king” in 1922.

Faud had been unhappily married to his cousin, Princess Shivakiar Ibrahim for two years until they finally divorced in 1898. Their marriage was anything but serene, as during a fight with her brother, Faud was shot in the throat but survived. Their marriage did produce two children, however, a son who died in infancy and a daughter named Fawkia.

Fawzia’s parents - King Faud I of Egypt and Nazli Sabri
Faud met his second wife and Fawzia’s mother, the twenty-five year old Nazli Sabri, at an opera performance and married her on May 24, 1919, just twelve days after he proposed to her. Nazli, who was a whopping twenty-five years Faud’s junior, was the daughter of the governor of Cairo and the maternal granddaughter of a three-time Prime Minister of Egypt. Her maternal great-grandfather, Suleiman Pasha, was a French army officer in Napoleon I’s army who converted to Islam and served in the Egyptian army. Nazli had previously been married to an Egyptian aristocrat in 1918 but their marriage ended in divorce that same year.

Faud’s second marriage was just as tempestuous as his first. Nazli wasn’t allowed to moved into Kobbeh Palace, the royal residence, until she gave birth to a son in 1920. Although she was the queen consort, Faud didn’t allow her to venture outside the palace except to go to opera performances, flower shows, and other ladies-only societal occasions. As a highly educated and cultured woman, Nazli struggled to conform to this restrictive lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, the couple fought frequently, which often resulted in Faud hitting his wife in anger and locking her in her room for weeks. It is said that on one occasion, she tried to take her own life by overdosing on aspirin pills.

Fuad and Nazli had five children together. After the birth of their first child and only son, the future Farouk I in early 1920, they had four daughters. Fawzia was their second child and eldest daughter, followed by Faiza in 1923, Faika in 1926, and Fathia in 1930. All of his daughters’ names began with the letter “F” as a tribute to Fuad’s beloved mother, who died in 1902.

Fawzia as a young girl
Fawzia, who was of Circassian, Turkish, French, and Albanian descent (the Egyptian royal family was not ethnically Egyptian), would later be known as an “Asian Venus” for her famed beauty. With her thick, dark waves, heart-shaped face, striking features, and piercing light blue eyes, she had an almost unworldly allure. Like her mother, she received an impressive education for an Egyptian woman of her time by attending school in Switzerland. She also spoke three languages - her native Arabic, as well as English and French. However, she was incredibly sheltered and was described by one courtier as a “supremely naive, over-protected, cellophane-wrapped, gift-packaged little girl” who lived “in bucolic surroundings, mobbed by adoring servants, aunts and ladies-in-waiting.” She was so sheltered, in fact, that she was described as being “virtually a prisoner in her mother’s houseboat on the Nile. She rarely went out, and when she did she was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting and retainers. At a time when all other young girls were enjoying a relative freedom, Fawzia, by virtue of her position, was closely hemmed in.”

When Fawzia was seventeen years-old, an ambassador from Iran was sent to Cairo to propose the idea of a marriage between Fawzia and the Crown Prince of Iran - Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, desired a union between Egypt and Iran’s royal families, as Fawzia’s old royal blood would add luster to Iran’s recently established monarchy. The match was agreed to by Fawzia’s older brother, Farouk I, who had succeeded to the throne upon his father’s death in 1936. For Farouk, the marriage asserted a constitutional monarch’s power in a region lorded over by the British while for the Iranian Shah, once just a humble soldier, the century-old Egyptian royal family conferred aristocratic legitimacy on his own. The betrothal was also significant in that it united a Sunni royal - Fawzia - with a Shia royal - Mohammad Reza. However, the Crown Prince himself remained unaware of the martial negotiations and had not even seen a picture of his bride by the time the engagement was publicly announced in May of 1938.

Fawzia and her husband, Crown Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, born on October 26, 1919 in Tehran, Iran, was the eldest son of Reza Khan and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk, and the third of eleven children. When Mohammad was born, he - along with his twin sister, Ashraf, his older sister, Shams, his younger brother, Ali Reza, and their older half-sister, Hamdamsaltaneh - were born as non-royals, for their father did not become Shah until 1925. Mohammad had a tough relationship with his father - he described him later in life as “one of the most frightening men” he had ever known and grew up in fear of his dominant personality and violent temper. As Shah, Mohammad would disparage his father in private, calling him a thuggish Cossack who achieved nothing as Shah, and almost airbrushed his father out of history during his reign to the point that the impression was given that the House of Pahlavi began its rule in 1941 rather than 1925. Mohammad’s mother, the superstitious but assertive Tadj ol-Molouk, provided the emotional support that her son so sorely needed. Under her influence, he grew up with an almost messianic belief in his own greatness and that God was working in his favor, which explained the often passive and fatalistic attitudes he displayed as an adult. But although he grew up surrounded by women, who were his main influences, he had a reputation as a womanizer and often spoke of women as sexual objects who existed only to please him.

The wedding rites were conducted twice - first in Cairo on March 15, 1939, according to Sunni custom, and later in Tehran according to Shi’ite custom. Fawzia was just seventeen at the time while Mohammad (who she had met only once before the wedding) was nineteen. At the wedding in Cairo, guests received bonbon boxes made of gold and precious stones, flower-filled floats paraded down the wide avenues, and fireworks were set off over the Nile. The day after the wedding in Cairo, the newlyweds flew to Tehran to conduct the Shi’ite ceremony, which included seven days of feasting, prisoners being released from jail, and food and money being handed out to the poor. Because Iranian law required that only an Iranian could become queen, a hasty bill was passed bestowing on Fawzia “the quality of Persianness.”

Crown Prince and Princess Fawzia and Mohammad Reza
with their only child, Princess Shahnaz
(early 1940’s)
Life in Tehran for Fawzia was very different - marriages between reigning dynasties in the Middle East were a novelty, so the uncultivated environment of Iran came as quite a shock to the new Crown Princess, who had spent all her life in the sophisticated city of Cairo. Though she was a married woman now, her life was no less restrictive than it had been before her wedding. At first, the marriage was relatively happy and the couple had one daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi, on October 27, 1940. In the eyes of the world, Fawzia was the epitome of glamor, her style a mixture of European fashion and oriental mystique. She was even pictured on the cover of Life magazine in 1942.

Unfortunately, by the time Mohammad Reza took the throne in late 1941 after an Anglo-Soviet invasion during World War II forced the abdication of his father, the marriage began to fall apart. Mohammad was openly unfaithful and was often seen driving around Tehran in one of his expensive cars with his girlfriends. Also, his dominating and extremely possessive mother saw Fawzia as a rival to her son’s love and took to humiliating her, while Mohammad sided with her all the while. Relations with her sisters-in-law were just as tense and she had no one to talk to, as her retinue of Egyptian servants was dismissed and she never succeeded at learning to speak Persian. To fend off boredom, she spent much of her time in bed and playing cards. A naturally shy and quiet woman, Fawzia described her marriage as miserable, feeling very much unwanted and unloved by her husband’s family, and longed to go back to Egypt. She refused to attend meetings of the charitable organizations and foundations of which she was nominal head as the Iranian queen and made it increasingly obvious her contempt for Iran and anything Iranian. She even began to show little interest in her own daughter and stopped sharing a room with her husband.

Fawzia Faud and her daughter, Princess Shahnaz
(early 1940’s)
By 1944, reports began to circulate that the Queen was in poor health. Since her arrival in Tehran, she had suffered regular bouts of malaria and other ailments. When a member of the Egyptian court visited Tehran, he discovered Fawzia to be neglected and gravely ill and described her as “a bony, cadaverous apparition... [her] shoulder blades jutted out like the fins of some undernourished fish.” She was persuaded to return to Egypt in 1945 for medical treatment and convalescence, upon which the Egyptian ambassador to Iran advised that divorce would be best for the couple. The divorce was not recognized for several years by Iran, but eventually an official separation was obtained on November 17, 1948, with Fawzia successfully reclaiming her previous distinction of “Princess of Egypt.” A major condition of the divorce was that her daughter be left behind to be raised in Iran, which she didn’t protest. In the official announcement of the divorce, it was stated that "the Persian climate had endangered the health of Empress Fawzia, and that thus it was agreed that the Egyptian King’s sister be divorced.”

Coincidentally, her brother had divorced his own wife, Farida, the same month Fawzia’s divorce was finalized and since their mother - the adventurous Queen Nazli - had fought with her son and went to live in America in 1946, Fawzia was now the senior lady in Egypt. She presided over the elaborate court receptions for ladies in Cairo and Alexandria and while she was not the most imaginative of hosts, she enjoyed the role.

Fawzia Faud of Egypt, Queen of Iran
On March 28, 1949, Fawzia remarried to Colonel Ismail Chirine, who was two years her senior, the eldest son of Hussein Chirine Bey and Princess Amina Bihruz Khanum Effendi. He was a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge and a one-time Egyptian minister of war and the navy. They lived in an estate owned by Fawzia in Maadi, Cairo and had two children, one daughter and one son: Nadia Chirine (born in 1950) and Hussein Chirine (born in 1955). In early 1951, Mohammad Reza had remarried to Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, who was thirteen years his junior and the daughter of a Bakhitary nobleman and Iranian ambassador to West Germany and his German wife. Their marriage would ultimately fail, as Mohammad’s mother and sisters could not get along with her since they saw her as another rival for his love, but it would be Soraya’s apparent infertility that broke the marriage apart completely. They divorced in 1958 after seven years of childlessness.

By the time of Fawzia’s second marriage, the Egyptian population, the majority of which were poor and disenfranchised, had turned against the royal family. King Farouk was seen as a corrupt and ineffectual playboy who was beholden to an occupying foreign power - the British. In 1952, a military coup led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser was widely heralded by the Egyptians and much of the world as an act of emancipation. The overthrown Farouk was forced to flee the country and lived in Rome for the rest of his life. Unlike most of her family, Fawzia remained in Egypt with her husband and children in a villa in Alexandria, where she lived a quiet, almost anonymous life in reduced circumstances, melting into the background of a rapidly growing city. Egypt would remain unstable politically for decades - going from monarchy to military coup, from socialism to oligarchy, to dictatorship and revolution again.
Fawzia Faud and her second husband, Ismail Chirine, with their
daughter Nadia

Iran fell into political turmoil in the 1970’s, with revolution finally erupting in 1979 as a result of strong opposition to the Shah due to clashes with Islamists, increased communist activity, and American and British support for his regime. By the time the monarchy was overthrown the same year the revolution began, Mohammad was married to his third wife, Farah Diba, an Iranian nearly twenty years his junior from an upper-class family, who he had wed in late 1959 and had two sons and two daughters with. Mohammad Reza died in exile in Egypt in 1980 at the age of sixty, unable to ever return to Iran under the penalty of death. His wife and two of his children survive him, with the former Empress dividing her time between Washington D.C. and Paris.

Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi of Iran
Fawzia’s daughter from her marriage to Mohammad - Princess Shahnaz - married a one-time Iranian foreign minister and twice ambassador to the U.S., Ardeshir Zahedi, in 1957 when he was twenty-nine and she was only seventeen. They had one daughter, Princess Zahra Mahnaz Zahedi, in 1958 before they divorced in 1964. Shahnaz later married Khosrow Jahanbani, the son of an Iranian general and a Russian aristocrat, in 1971. Khosrow was just four months Shahnaz’s junior and the great-great grandson of Fath Ali Shah, the Shah of Iran from 1797-1834. He was reported to have had more than 1,000 wives and was survived by fifty-seven sons and forty-six daughters, along with 296 grandsons and 292 granddaughters. Shahnaz and Khosrow had two children: a son, Keykhosrow, in 1971 and a daughter, Fawzia, in 1973. Khosrow died in 2014 at the age of seventy-three after combatting cancer for several years while Shahnaz still survives him today at the age of seventy-six in Switzerland, where she has lived with her family since the Iranian revolution.

Fawzia’s daughter from her second marriage, Nadia Chirine, married twice and had two daughters, one with her first husband and one with her second - Sinai and Fawzia respectively. She died in 2009 at the age of fifty-eight. Nadia’s brother, Hussein Chirine, never married or had children and died in 2016 at the age of sixty-one. Ismail Chirine, Fawzia’s second husband, died in 1994 at the age of seventy-four. Fawzia survived him by nineteen years before her own death on July 2, 2013 at the age of ninety-one in Alexandria. She was buried in Cairo alongside Ismail.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Aristocratic Ladies of Great Britain of the Edwardian Era | Portraits by Philip de László

Philip de László (1869-1937) was a Hungarian painter who became well known for his many portraits of royal and aristocratic men and women of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. In 1907, he moved to London but he was constantly traveling throughout Europe to carry out the various artistic commissions he was assigned. His impeccable work, which focused mainly on English and American socialites, earned him a slew of awards and honors. King Edward VII named him a MVO (a member of the Royal Victorian Order) and Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, King of Hungary ennobled him as "Philip László de Lombos" in 1912 (until then, he went by his birth name, "Laub Fülöp"). He became a British citizen in 1914 and at the turn of the century he married the Irish Lucy Madeleine Guinness, a member of the famous banking and brewing Guinness family. They had six children and seventeen grandchildren before de László died of a heart attack, which was brought on by overworking. Philip de László painted several members of royalty, such as: Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Queen Louise of Sweden, King Constantine I of Greece, Queen Elizabeth II, and King Edward VII, but he also painted many aristocratic women of the U.K. in the early 1900's. Below are some of his beautiful works and their equally stunning subjects.

Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry

Edith Helen Chaplin was born on December 3, 1878 in the village of Blankney, Lincolnshire to Henry Chaplin, a British landowner and conservative politician in the House of Commons, and Lady Florence Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, a daughter of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland. Edith had one older brother, Eric, and one younger sister, Florence. Her mother died in childbirth with her younger sister in 1881 and her father, who was a member of the Privy Council, was named the 1st Viscount Chaplin. Edith was just two years old when her mother died so she was sent to her maternal grandfather's estate of Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland to be brought up. Edith matured into a charming, sociable, dark-haired beauty with elegant features, a slender figure, fair skin, and blue eyes. On November 28, 1899 just five days away from her twenty-first birthday, she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, the eldest son and heir of the 6th Marquess of Londonderry, who was just seven months her senior. At the time of his marriage to Edith, he was a lieutenant in the British Army. The couple resided in the Londonderry family estate of Mount Stewart near Newtownards, County Down in Northern Ireland where Edith would become active in creating the lovely gardens around the estate. Today, Edith's gardens at Mount Stewart are regarded as some of the best in the British Isles. 

Edith had five children with her husband, four daughters and one son: Maureen (1900-1942), Edward (1902-1955), Margaret (1910-1966), Helen (1911-1986), and Mairi (1921-2009). When Edith's father-in-law died in 1915, Charles became the 7th Marquess of Londonderry, making Edith his Marchioness. Edith became a popular and influential socialite and hostess in the 1920's-30's and was active in the war effort during World War I. She was the Colonel-in-Chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve and opened up the Londonderry townhouse as a military hospital. For her work, she was the named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division in 1917, the first woman to receive such an honor. Her husband, who served during the war, was a prominent politician as the Secretary of State for Air from 1931-35 but he was forced from government in 1938 when he applauded Nazi Germany. He was not faithful to his wife, as he had an illegitimate daughter with the American actress Fannie Ward in 1900. Edith, who became the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry in 1949 upon her husband's death, died on April 23, 1959 from cancer at the age of eighty. 

Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston

Grace Elvina Hinds was born in 1879 in Decatur, Alabama to Joseph Monore Hinds, a one-time U.S. Minister to Brazil, and Lucy Trillia of Montevideo, Uruguay. On May 1, 1902, she married a wealthy Irish Argentinian landowner, Alfred Huberto Duggan, when she was about twenty-three. They lived in Buenos Aires for around three years where Grace had two sons - Alfred Duggan (1903-1964), a future historian and archeologist, and Hubert Duggan (1904-1943), who would become a British Army officer and conservative politician. In 1905, Grace's husband was given a position at the Argentine Legation in London so the family moved to England. Grace would remain here for the rest of her life. She had another child with her husband, a daughter named Grace Lucille Duggan (1907-1995), before his death in 1915. 

Grace inherited her late husband's extensive estancias in Argentina after his death, which made her a very rich widow. She served as a nurse for Britain during the First World War before she married again in 1917 to the haughty and stubborn George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (the Viceroy of India from 1899-1905), at the age of thirty-eight. Curzon, who was twenty years older than Grace, had been married once before from 1895-1906 to another wealthy American, the beautiful Mary Victoria Leiter of Chicago, who gave him three daughters before her early death. Curzon married Grace in an attempt to produce a much-desired son and heir. Grace miscarried several times and had a few fertility-related operations but she was unable to have a living child with Curzon because of her age. Though they always remained faithful to each other, Curzon and Grace became estranged (but still lived together) after it became apparent that Grace wouldn't have a son. In 1922, Grace was named a Dame Grand Cross (GBE), the highest honor of the Order of the British Empire for her services as a nurse during the war. Two years after Curzon was passed over for the position of Prime Minister, he died of a severe bladder hemorrhage in 1925. Grace survived him by thirty-three years before her death in 1958 at the age of seventy-nine.

Hon. Harriet Sarah Jones-Loyd, Lady Wantage

The Hon. Harriet Sarah Jones Loyd was the only surviving child of Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone and Harriet Wright. She was born in 1837 at her family seat of Wolvey Hall in Wolvey, Warwickshire. He father, who was one of the richest men in Britain, was a banker and a Whig politician of Welsh ancestry. He was ennobled as a baron in 1850. In 1858, the twenty-one year old Harriet married Brigadier General Sir Robert James Lindsay, who was five years her senior. Harriet's father gifted her with a substantial fortune upon her wedding as well as the property of the Lockinge Estate, making her one of the wealthiest heiresses of her day. However, Harriet could never inherit her father's title upon his death because of her gender. When Lindsay married Harriet, he took the name of "Robert Loyd-Lindsay" by deed poll. The couple mainly resided at Lockinge Estate, which was near Wantage, but they also had a second home of Overstone Park in Northampton. Though Harriet and Lindsay were unable to have any children, they were happy together.

The respected and benevolent Harriet dedicated most of her time and efforts to charitable and philanthropic activities. She was greatly involved in hospital and nursing work and helped to create the National Aid Society, the precursor of the British Red Cross Society. When Queen Victoria established the Order of the Red Cross in 1883, Harriet was one of the first individuals to be awarded the honor. In 1885, Harriet became the Lady Wantage when her husband was ennobled as the 1st Baron Wantage (the title was taken from the name of their favorite estate and principal home). In 1901, Lindsay, who had served valiantly in the Crimean War, died at the age of sixty-nine.  Since Lindsay had no children by his wife, his title died with him. Harriet created a monument to him after his death on the Ridgeway. In 1908, she opened Wantage Hall for the University of Reading as the first Hall of Residence in honor of her late husband. Harriet wrote a biography and memoir of er late husband before her own death on August 9, 1920 at the age of about eighty-three.

Viscountess Lee of Fareham

Ruth Moore, Viscountess Lee of Fareham 

Ruth Moore was the eldest child of New York financier and Wall Street stock market promoter, John Godfrey Moore, and his first wife, Miriam Jane Aldrich, of Munson, Massachusetts. Ruth was born sometime in the 1870's or 1880's and she had one younger sister, as well as a younger brother from her father's second marriage (Ruth's mother died in 1890). The petite, blue-eyed blonde was described by one newspaper as possessing an, "atmosphere of royalty with an unconscious girlish charm." Ruth met Arthur Hamilton Lee, a British military attaché at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. at parties in Kingston and Gananoque. Lee, who was a close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, was the half-American son of a clergyman and was born in Bridport, Dorset. A mutual attraction developed between the two and Lee invited her to a few balls with him at the Royal Military College in Kingston. On December 23, 1899, the couple married. Ruth inherited a great amount of wealth from her father right before the wedding, as he died just a few months prior to the ceremony. 

Lee had a career in Parliament and joined the Cabinet and the Privy Council in 1919 before he was named the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1921. A year later, he was named the 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham. Ruth, as the Viscountess Lee, had a happy and stable marriage with her husband despite the fact that they had no children. In 1909, they took over the lease of Chequers Court in Buckinghamshire and completely renovated the estate into a fashionable main residence. When the Great War began, the couple opened up their house as a hospital and later a convalescent home for officers. When the war began to draw to a close in 1917, they gave the entire house and its contents in trust to the government as the official home of future British Prime Ministers. Lee died in 1947 at the age of seventy-eight and was survived by his wife for almost two decades until her death in 1966.

Mary Louise Douglas-Hamilton, Duchess of Montrose

Lady Mary Louise Douglas-Hamilton was the only child of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton and Lady Mary Montagu. Mary Louise was born in 1884 in London a decade after her parents' wedding. While her mother was a daughter of the 7th Duke of Manchester and Louise Cavendish, the "Double Duchess", her father (who also held the titles of 9th Duke of Brandon, 2nd Duke of Châtellerault, and 8th Earl of Selkirk) was the son of his namesake, the 11th Duke of Hamilton, and Princess Marie of Baden, the adoptive granddaughter of Napoleon I. Mary Louise's paternal aunt, Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton, was the Hereditary Princess of Monaco as the first wife of Prince Albert I of Monaco. When Mary Louise's father died in 1895 when she was just eleven years old, his title passed to his fourth cousin. Mary Louise's mother remarried two years after her husband's death but had no more children. 

In 1906, the twenty-two year old Mary Louise married James Graham, the son and heir of the 5th Duke of Montrose, who was six years her senior. Graham was a naval officer and later a politician in the House of Lords. Mary Louise had four children with her husband, two sons and two daughters: James (the future 7th Duke of Montrose), Mary, Ronald, and Jean. Graham was also an engineer and invented the world's first naval aircraft carrier in 1912. He also served as the President of the British Institution of Marine Engineers and was active in World War I as a commodore. His father died in 1925, making him the 6th Duke of Montrose. Mary Louise was the Duchess of Montrose until her husband's death in 1954 at the family seat of Buchanan Castle in Stirlingshire. She died in 1957 at the age of about seventy-three.

Lady Margaret Alice Leicester-Warren

Margaret Alice Leicester-Warren was the eldest child of Cuthbert Leicester-Warren, a son of Sir Baldwyn Leighton, 8th Baronet and the Hon. Eleanor Leicester Leighton-Warren, and Hilda Marguerite Davenport. She was born in either 1905 or 1906 in her family home of Tabley House, Knutsford and had two younger brothers. On January 18, 1933 at the age of about twenty-seven, Margaret Alice married Lieutenant General Sir Oliver William Hargreaves Leese, 3rd Baronet, a senior Army officer who was about eleven years her senior. Leese was the eldest son of Sir William Hargreaves Leese, 2nd Baronet, a barrister, and Violet Mary Sandeman. He served as a second lieutenant in World War I and was wounded three times during the conflict, including during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. His bravery in this particular battle earned him the Distinguished Service Honor.

When Leese married Margaret Alice, he was ranked as a major but by 1938, he was a colonel. His father died a year prior to this promotion, so by the time he became a colonel he had also succeeded to his father's baronetcy. Leese and Margaret Alice had no children and lived at the estate of Lower Hall in Worfield, Shropshire. Leese served as a military instructor in India for a few years before returning home to Britain to fight in World War II. He replaced Bernard Montgomery as the Lieutenant-General of the Eighth Army's XXX Corps in 1944 and fought in North Africa and Italy. He died in 1978 of a heart attack at the age of eighty-three, five years after his right leg had to be amputated due to health reasons. He survived his wife by thirteen years, as she had died on April 30, 1964 at the age of about sixty-one. 

Margot Asquith, Countess of Oxford and Asquith

Emma Alice Margaret Tennant was born on February 2, 1864 in Peeblesshire, Scotland as the eleventh child and sixth daughter of Sir Charles Tennant, 1st Baronet, an industrialist and Liberal politician, and Emma Winsloe. The childhood home of Emma Alice, who went by the name of "Margot", was her family's country estate of Glen, where she grew up as an adventurous, wild, and riotous child. She was very close to her sister Laura and she liked she venture throughout Glen's moors, ride horses, play golf, and climb up to the rooftop at night. When Laura died in 1888, Margot was so devastated with grief that she developed chronic insomnia, a sickness that followed her until her dying day. On May 10, 1894, the thirty year old Margot married the Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Asquith, a widower who was twelve years her senior. His first wife had died of typhoid fever in 1891, leaving him with four sons and one daughter. Margot was the complete opposite of Asquith's quiet and meek late wife; she was, according to one of her stepchildren, a "dazzling bird of paradise, filling us with amazement, amusement, excitement, sometimes with a vague uneasiness as to what she might do next". Margot introduced her husband to her extravagant social world, which helped him achieve the position of Prime Minister of the U.K. in 1908. Before Asquith became Prime Minister and moved to 10 Downing Street with his wife, they lived in the Asquith family home of in Cavendish Square. Their favorite residence was their weekend home of The Wharf in Sutton Courtenay, which the politics-loving couple set up as a meeting place for intellectuals in literature, art, and government. 

Margot had five children with Asquith but only two - a daughter named Elizabeth (1897-1945) and Anthony (1902-1968) survived past infancy. Elizabeth would become the Princess of Bibesco after her marriage to the Romanian Prince Antoine of Bibesco while Anthony would become a notable director in film. Asquith was the longest continuously serving prime minister in the twentieth century as he was in office from 1908-16. However, his successes as Prime Minister before the Great War have been forgotten due to his weak leadership during the conflict. In 1925, he was named the 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, making Margot a countess. After his death in 1928, Margot lived in a state of destitution. She made some money writing autobiographies but the death of her daughter in 1945 from pneumonia proved to be her breaking point. She died on July 28, 1945 at the age of eighty-one just three months after her daughter's death.

Muriel Thetis Warde 

Muriel Thetis Wilson was born in 1875 to the shipping magnate Arthur Wilson and Mary Emma Wilson. Her father was the son of Thomas Wilson, the owner of the Thomas Wilson Sons & Co. shipping business, which operated steamship lines throughout the globe. When Arthur inherited his father's company in 1907, he was arguably the richest ship owner in the world. Muriel had a sister and three brothers, one of whom, Arthur Stanley,  served as a conservative member of Parliament for Hull. Muriel's family became involved in a scandal when her father hosted his good friend, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, at the Wilson family home of Tranby Croft near Hull in 1890. The Prince and Arthur fell into legal trouble when it was revealed that one of Arthur's guests was discovered to have cheated in a game of baccarat, a card game which was illegal in England at the time. The Prince was so embarrassed by the whole affair that he never went back to Tranby Croft. Although Arthur was offered a peerage some time after this event, he was so negatively affected by the royal baccarat scandal that he refused a title and withdrew from the public eye. 

Muriel was said to be one of the most beautiful girls in Britain during her youth. She was described as having a, "small and oval" face, "a complexion so dark as to verge on olive...large, dark, lustrous and very expressive eyes," a small mouth, and a shapely nose. She had many admirers and was engaged to some well known British aristocrats such as Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough and Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster, but these betrothals fell through. She was also good friends with future Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was said to have unsuccessfully proposed to her. Muriel was a charming amateur actress and a skilled horsewoman who loved to wear lavish and unique fashions. She married later in life (most likely in the first decade of the twentieth century) to a Richard Edward Warde who was nine years her junior. They had no children and she died in 1964 at the age of eighty-nine. 

Nancy Beatrice Borwick, Lady Croft

Nancy Beatrice Borwick was the daughter of Robert Hudson Borwick, 1st Baron Borwick and Caroline Johnston, who had been born in Madras, India. Nancy was born in 1885 in her father's hometown of Regent Park, London and had one brother and two sisters. In 1907, Nancy married Henry Page Croft, a conservative member of Parliament. Henry, who was four years older than Nancy, was the son of Richard Benyon Croft, a naval officer and the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, and Anne Elizabeth Page, the daughter of a successful businessman in the grain and malster industry. Nancy had two children with Henry - a son named Michael Henry and a daughter named Diane. 

Henry entered Parliament in the House of Commons in 1910 but served in France during World War I from 1914-16. He co-founded the National Party in 1917, which stood for strong diplomacy and more armaments, anti-German policies, the end of the sale of honors, etc. Much to his horror (as he was an anti-German Protectionist), his daughter Diana married a German lawyer and painter in 1936. In 1940, Henry was named 1st Baron Croft, making Nancy the Lady Croft. Prime Minister Winston Churchill made him the Under-Secretary of State for War from 1940-45. He devoted much of his time to raising the morale of British soldiers in the Army and made it so education and entertainment was provided to the men fighting in Europe and Africa. Nancy survived her husband by two years, as she died in 1949 at the age of sixty-four.

Winifred Cavendish-Bentick, Duchess of Portland

Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke was the only daughter of Thomas Yorke Dallas-Yorke of Walmsgate, Lincolnshire and Frances Graham. She was born on September 7, 1863 at Murthly Castle in Perthshire and grew up alongside her only sibling, her younger brother Hailburton Francis. She was friends with Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII, and served as her canopy bearer during the King's coronation in 1902 before being named Mistress of the Robes from 1913 until the Queen's death in 1925. On June 11, 1889, Winifred married William Cavendish-Bentick, 6th Duke of Portland, who was six years her senior. William was the son of Lieutenant-General Arthur Cavendish-Bentinck by his first wife, Elizabeth Sophia Hawkins-Whitshed. He became the Duke of Portland in 1879 when his cousin, the 5th Duke, died without issue. He was a conservative politician in the House of Lords with a military career and served as the Master of the Horse from 1886 to 1892. Winifred and William had three children: Victoria (1890-1994), William Arthur (1893-1977), and Francis (1900-1950).

Winifred, who had always loved animals, had numerous stables at her home of Welbeck Abbey, the family seat of the Dukes of Portland, which she used to house old horses and dogs in need of homes. She used her title and prominence as the Duchess of Portland to make a different in the areas of humanitarianism and animal rights. She became the first president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as well as the vice-president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the president of the ladies committee of the RSPCA. She even convinced her husband to use most of the winnings he earned in horse racing to set up almshouses at Welbeck. Winifred also supported miners in the community by paying for their health care and creating sewing and cooking classes for their daughters. Her efforts earned her the honor of being made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1935. She survived her husband by eleven years before her death on July 30, 1954 at the age of ninety.

Victoria Mary 'Vita' Sackville-West (1892–1962), Later Lady Nicholson

Vita Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson

Victoria Sackville-West, more commonly known as "Vita", was the only child of Lionel Sackville-West, 3rd Baron Sackville and Victoria Josefa Sackville-West, the illegitimate daughter the 2nd Baron Sackville, who was Lionel's uncle, and a Spanish dancer. Vita was born on March 9, 1892 at Knole House in Kent, the family seat of the Baron Sackville family. In 1913, the twenty-one year old Vita married the twenty-seven year old politician and writer, Harold George Nicolson, a son of a British diplomat named Arthur Nicolson, 1st Baron Carnock. Vita and Harold, who were both bisexual and had affairs with both genders before and after their wedding, had an open marriage and lived in Cihangir, Istanbul (because of his father's profession, Harold had been born in Iran) until 1914, after which they lived in Kent. Here, they had two sons: Benedict (1914-1978), an art historian, and Nigel (1917-2004), who became a leading writer and politician like his father. Vita herself was a writer and published several novels, which earned her the honor of being named a Companion of Honor in 1947. But despite Vita's fame as an author, she was far more proliferate for her various affairs. She had a brief fling with Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, the future husband of Mary, Princess Royal, and Hilda Matheson, the head of the BBC Talks Department, which lasted from 1929-31. After this, she was involved in a ménage à trois with a journalist named Evelyn Irons and her boyfriend.

Her most famous affairs were with Rosamund Grosvenor, a granddaughter of the 1st Baron Ebury, Violet Trefusis, a daughter of the Hon. George Keppel and his wife, Alice Keppel (a mistress of King Edward VII), and the famous author, Virginia Woolf. Vita and Rosamund (who was four years her senior) went to the same school in 1899 and were educated under the same governess. They grew up together and fell in love but their covert affair ended when Vita married. Vita had a more passionate affair with Violet, who she also went to school with. They began their relationship after both married and became writers. They eloped many times in 1918 (often to France) with Vita usually cross-dressing as a man when they went out in public. The two always remained deeply in love with each other but their affair ended after Violet didn't uphold the promise she and Vita had made to each other that they wouldn't be intimate with their husbands. In the late 1920's, Vita engaged in a relationship with fellow author Virginia Woolf. Vita inspired Woolf to write one of her most famous novels - Orlando. Vita died just a month after her husband at the age of seventy on June 2, 1962.

Mabell Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie

Mabell Frances Elizabeth Gore was the eldest daughter of Arthur Gore, Viscount Sudley and Edith Jocelyn, the daughter of Viscount Jocelyn. She was born on March 10, 1866 and had two younger sisters. After her mother's death in 1871, she and her sisters were sent to live with their maternal grandmother, Lady Jocelyn. Their grandmother was acquainted with the Duchess of Teck so the girls often visited the Duchess and her family, allowing Mabell to become good friends with the Duchess's daughter, the future Queen Mary, wife of King George V of the U.K. In 1884, Mabell's paternal grandfather died and her father inherited his title of the Earl of Arran, which gave Mabell the title of "Lady". On January 19, 1886, the twenty year-old Mabell married David Ogilvy, 11th Earl of Airlie, who was ten years her senior and a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army. Now the Countess of Airlie, Mabell had six children with her husband: Kitty (1887-1969), Helen (1890-1973), Mabell (1892-1918), David (1893-1968), Bruce (1895-1976), and Patrick (1896-1917). Mabell lost her husband in 1900 when he was killed in action at the Battle of Diamond Hill in the Second Boer War. Her eldest son, David, became the new Earl of Airlie at the age of seven so Mabell oversaw his duties as Earl in his name.

A year after her husband's death, Mabell's old friend, Mary of Teck (now the Princess of Wales), appointed Mabell as her Lady of the Bedchamber. When Mary became Queen of the U.K. once George V succeeded to the throne in 1910, Mabell stayed at court as the Lady of the Bedchamber. Like many other aristocratic women during World War I, Mabell did her part in supporting the war effort. She volunteered for the Red Cross and her work as the president of Queen Alexandra's Army Nursing Board earned her the honor of being named a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1920. But she had to undergo heavy personal losses during the conflict; her youngest son and son-in-law were killed in action as well as her daughter, Mabell. The Dowager Countess of Airlie served Queen Mary as Lady of the Bedchamber for fifty-two years until the Mary's death in 1953, after which Queen Elizabeth II awarded her with the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) for her many decades of service. After Mary of Teck's death, Mabell moved from Airlie Castle to Bayswater Road in London where she died a few weeks after her ninetieth birthday on April 7, 1956. Mabell's grandson, Angus (a son of David Ogilvy, 12th Earl of Airlie), married Princess Alexandra of Kent, the youngest granddaughter of King George V and Queen Mary, in 1963, thus uniting Mabell's family with Queen Mary's, her oldest and closest friend, in blood.

Beatrice Violet Wyndham, Lady Leconfield

Beatrice Violet Rawson was the eldest daughter of Colonel Richard Hamilton Rawson and Lady Beatrice Anson. She was born on May 6, 1892 in London and had one older brother (who died young in a horse-riding accident) and a younger sister. While her father was a High Sheriff for Sussex as well as the county's Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant, her mother was the second daughter of the Earl of Lichfield and a granddaughter of the 1st Duke of Abercorn. In 1911, the nineteen year-old Violet (as she went by) married the wealthy Charles Wyndham, 3rd Baron Leconfield, who was twenty years her senior. Violet, now known as Lady Leconfield, lived with her husband at the Leconfield family seat - Petworth House in West Sussex. They also had property in Cumberland, such as Cockermouth Castle and Scafell Pike.

Wyndham, who served in a cavalry regiment of the British Army as a lieutenant in the 1890's, rejoined this regiment in World War I to command the Royal Sussex Volunteers as the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex. Later, in World War II, he would be named Honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion of the Border Regiment for Cumberland. Although he and Violet had no children of their own, they adopted two children - Peter and Elizabeth Geraldine (whose birth name was Betty Seymour) Wyndham. Peter was not able to succeed his father as the 4th Baron of Leconfield after Wyndham died in 1952 at the age of eighty following a long illness since he was not of his blood. Instead, Wyndham's younger brother inherited the Leconfield title and lands. Wyndham's daughter, Elizabeth,  a civil servant and socialite, would become a linguist for the British codebreaking department in World War II (she was a skilled polyglot). Violet survived her husband by four years before dying on May 22, 1956 at the age of sixty-four. 

Violet Warwick Bampfylde, Countess of Onslow

Violet Marcia Catherine Warwick Bampfylde was the only daughter of Coplestone Bampfylde, 3rd Baron Poltimore and Margaret Harriet Beaumont, the daughter of the 1st Baron Allendale. She was born on December 22, 1884 and had three brothers. On February 22, 1906, the twenty-one year old Violet married Richard Onslow, Viscount Cranley, who was eight years her senior. Onslow was the eldest son and heir of William Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow, who was also the Governor of New Zealand from 1889-92. His mother was the Hon. Florence Coulston Gardner, a daughter of the 3rd Baron Gardner. Before World War I began, he was a diplomat who worked in Madrid, Tangier, St. Petersburg, and Berlin before working in the Foreign Office from 1910-14. In the Great War, he served as an Honorary Colonel. 

In 1911, Onslow's father died and he became the 5th Earl of Onslow, making Violet the Countess of Onslow. They had two children - a daughter named Mary Florence and a son named William Arthur, who eventually succeeded his father as the 6th Earl of Onslow. After the war, Onslow had a variety of government jobs such as the Chairman of the Committees and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords. Onslow died in 1945 at the age of sixty-eight. His wife survived him by nine years before dying on October 23, 1954, two months before her seventy-first birthday. 

Jane Graham Murray, Viscountess Dunedin

Jane (also known as Jean) Elmslie Henderson Findlay was the only child of George Findlay, a hat maker in Aberdeen, and Jane Elmslie Henderson. She was born on Christmas Day of 1885 in Aberdeen, Scotland. By the time her birth was registered in January 11, 1886, she was an orphan (why her parents died so soon after her birth is unknown). She became an author and later the editor of Everyman magazine, as well as the secretary of the Scottish War Savings Committee during World War I. In 1923 at the age of thirty-seven, she married the widowed Andrew Graham Murray, 1st Viscount Dunedin, a Scottish politician and judge as the Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session. He had also been the Secretary for Scotland from 1903-05.

Murray, who was a whopping thirty-six years older than his wife, had been married once before to a woman named Mary Clementina, a daughter of a Scottish naval commander and baronet. They had two daughters and one son before Mary died in 1922. He married Jane less than a year later but due to her age at the time of their wedding, they had no children. His son by his first wife died in 1934, eight years before his father, who passed at the age of ninety-two. Since Murray died without a surviving son, his title became extinct upon his death. Jane lived as the Viscountess Dunedin until her death in 1944 at the age of fifty-eight.

Helen Percy, Duchess of Northumberland

Helen Magdalan Gordon-Lennox was the youngest daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 7th Duke of Richmond and Lennox, 2nd Duke of Gordon, and his second wife, Isabel Sophie Craven. Through her father, Helen was descended from Charles II by his mistress, Louise de Kerouaille. She was born on December 13, 1886 in London and had one full sister as well as two half-sisters and three half-brothers from her father's first marriage. The fair-haired Helen lost her mother just a year after her birth and by the time she was eighteen, she acted as hostess for her father and took on the duties of the lady of the house. The kind-hearted Helen, who was described as a "saint" by one of the Queen of Spain's ladies-in-waiting, was "the sort of woman who rides in buses, pays her bills, and is nice to old servants". On October 18, 1911, the twenty-four year old Helen married Alan Percy, Earl Percy, who was six years her senior. 

Alan was the second surviving son of Henry Percy, 7th Duke of Northumberland, and Edith Campbell, a daughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll. He became his father's heir in 1909 when his older brother, Henry, died of pleurisy. Alan had served as a Captain in the South African War of 1901-02 and took part in the Sudan Campaign in 1908. When World War I erupted less than three years after Helen and Alan's marriage, Alan worked with the Intelligence Department to supply eyewitness accounts of battles as part of the Grenadier Guards. In 1918, his father died and he became the 8th Duke of Northumberland, which made Helen a duchess. She had six children with her husband: Henry (1912-1940), Hugh (1914-1988), Elizabeth (1916-2008), Diana (1917-1978), Richard (1921-1989), and Geoffrey (1925-1984). Alan also became the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland in 1918, a position he held until his death in 1930 at the age of fifty. Seven years after Alan's death, Helen, now the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, became the Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. A year after she received this position, she was honored as a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO). Her eldest son, the childless 9th Duke of Northumberland, died fighting in World War II so her second son, Hugh, succeeded his late brother as the 10th Duke of Northumberland. Meanwhile, two of her daughters became duchesses by marriage; her eldest, Elizabeth, married the 14th Duke of Hamilton and her youngest, Diana, married the 6th Duke of Sutherland. Helen retired as Mistress of the Robes in 1964 and died not long after on June 13, 1965 at the age of seventy-eight.