Princess Alexandrine of Baden

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Alexandrine of Baden
Alexandrina Duchess Saxe Coburg, 1842.jpg
Painting by Franz Winterhalter, 1842
Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Tenure 1844–1893
Spouse Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Full name
Alexandrine Luise Amalie Friederike Elisabeth Sophie
House House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
House of Zähringen
Father Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden
Mother Sophie of Sweden
Born (1820-12-06)6 December 1820
Karlsruhe
Died 20 December 1904(1904-12-20) (aged 84)
Schloss Callenberg

Alexandrina of Baden (Alexandrine Luise Amalie Friederike Elisabeth Sophie; born Karlsruhe, 6 December 1820; died Schloss Callenberg, 20 December 1904) was the eldest child of Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden (1790–1852) and his wife Princess Sophie of Sweden (1801–65).[1]

Marriage[edit]

Background[edit]

Before he ascended the throne, Alexander II of Russia was sent to Baden in order to present himself as a suitor for Alexandrine's hand in marriage.[2] Alexandrine already regarded herself as his betrothed, as all the preliminary negotiations had taken place. On the journey there however, Alexander visited the court of Hesse-Darmstadt and met Princess Marie of Hesse and eventually married her.[2]

At the urging of his brother Prince Albert, The Hereditary Prince Ernst of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born 1818) began to search for a suitable bride.[3] Albert believed that a wife would be good for his brother; "Chains you will have to bear in any case, and it will certainly be good for you... The heavier and tighter they are, the better for you. A married couple must be chained to one another, be inseparable, and they must live only for one another".[3] With this advice in mind (though Albert was reprimanded for presuming to counsel his elders), Ernest began searching.[3]

Around this time, Ernest was suffering from a venereal disease brought on by his many affairs; Albert consequently counseled him from marrying until he was fully recovered. He also warned that continued promiscuity could leave Ernest unable to father children. Ernest waited a few years before marrying as a result.[3]

On 13 May 1842 in Karlsruhe Ernest married Princess Alexandrine.[1][4] To the consternation of his brother and sister-in-law Queen Victoria, the marriage failed to "settle down" Ernest. Alexandrine accepted all his faults cheerfully enough however, and began a fierce devotion to Ernest that would become more and more baffling to the outside world.[4]

Succession and childlessness[edit]

He succeeded his father, Ernst I, as Duke in 1844. The marriage would prove to be childless. Though it was most likely that the fault lay with Ernest (due to the venereal disease he caught before his marriage), Alexandrine seems to have accepted without question that their childlessness was her fault.[4]

The same year Ernest succeeded as Duke, the couple traveled to Windsor to visit their relations. Lady Eleanor Stanley, one of Victoria's maids-of-honour, commented to her mother, "the Duke is not well, they say, and he certainly looks dreadfully ill... he however shook hands with us very civilly at meeting, and seemed in great spirits at being with his brother. The Duchess [Alexandrine] told Lady Duoro she had been at Ems in hopes of producing a son and heir, but it had no effect as yet; we were rather amused at her saying it so simply, but she seems a very nice person and very pretty".[4]

The couple's relationship at this stage was "as unclouded as it would ever be", in the words of historian Charlotte Zeepvat.[4] While touring some farms in Windsor, Alexandrine caught a cold; they left soon after. Lady Eleanor commented again that "[Alexandrine] was very sweet at parting, and kissed us all round; she looked very delicate, as white as a sheet, and more fit to be in her bed than undertaking a long journey. The parting of the Royalty was not so sorrowful as I expected; plenty of kissing, but no tears".[4] Victoria was sorry to see them leave, as she loved Ernest loyally for Albert's sake, and had come to see Alexandrine as a sister.[4]

Victoria chose Ernest to be the godfather of her second daughter Princess Alice, and he was consequently expected in England in April 1859 for her confirmation.[5] Though Victoria was eager to see his wife again, and though plans had been arranged the previous year for her to visit, Ernest chose to not bring her along. It was clear that as the chances of producing children had faded, Ernest was taking less and less interest in his wife.[5]

Affairs[edit]

Before and during their marriage, Ernest carried on countless affairs with various women. Alexandrine remained a loyal wife however, and chose to ignore those relationships she was aware of. At one point, Ernest had two mistresses, and was living with them and Alexandrine "in an improbable ménage which made the couple a laughing-stock to all but their family".[6] Though she loved Alexandrine, Victoria was appalled by her willingness to accept his affairs, commenting that "Uncle E.'s conduct is perfectly monstrous and I must blame Aunt very much. They have not written to me yet - but when they do I shall have to write very strongly".[6]

Later life[edit]

Alexandrine (in black) with family of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Alexandrine's memorial fountain in Coburg.

As the years went by, Ernest's behavior and manner of dress increasingly became a joke to younger generations.[7] A daughter of Ernest's nephew and successor Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh later recalled Ernest as "an old beau, squeezed into a frock-coat too tight for his bulk and uncomfortably pinched in at the waist', sporting a top hat, lemon coloured gloves, and a rosebud in his lapel".[7] Prince Ernest Louis of Hesse recalled how Alexandrine used to trail behind her husband calling, "Ernst, my treasure"; this caused particular embarrassment at the 1887 Windsor jubilee when Ernst Ludwig's brother-in-law Grand Duke Sergei imitated Alexandrine, calling out to Ernest Louis "Ernst, my treasure", not realizing that the Duke was approaching from the other end of the room.[7] "He saw my aghast expression and turned, then we both fled, escaping into different rooms. I burst out laughing but for a long time Sergei was desperately worried, because he didn't know if Uncle had heard him".[8]

Ernest died on 22 August 1893 after a short illness. Alexandrine survived him by eleven years, finally dying on 20 December 1904.[1]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 6 December 1820 – 13 May 1842: Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Alexandrine of Baden
  • 13 May 1842 – 29 January 1844: Her Grand Ducal Royal Highness The Hereditary Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
  • 29 January 1844 - 22 August 1893: Her Grand Ducal Royal Highness The Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
  • 22 August 1893 - 20 December 1904: Her Grand Ducal Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lundy, Darryl. "The Peerage: Alexandrine Luise Prinzessin von Baden". Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Foreign Notes and Comment", The Washington Post, 26 October 1899 
  3. ^ a b c d Zeepvat, p. 1.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Zeepvat, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b Zeepvat, p. 3.
  6. ^ a b Zeepvat, p. 5.
  7. ^ a b c Zeepvat, p. 6.
  8. ^ Quoted in Zeepvat, p. 6.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Princess Alexandrine of Baden at Wikimedia Commons

Princess Alexandrine of Baden
Cadet branch of the House of Zähringen
Born: 6 December 1820 Died: 20 December 1904
German royalty
Preceded by
Marie of Württemberg
Duchess consort of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
29 January 1844 – 22 August 1893
Succeeded by
Maria Alexandrovna of Russia