Princess Marie "Mary" Henriette Adelaide of Liechtenstein (maiden name Fox; January 1851 – 26 December 1878) was a French-born British writer. A foundling, she was adopted by the Fox family and eventually married into the Princely House of Liechtenstein.
The future princess was born in Paris in January 1851. Her mother's name was given as Victoire Magny of Soissons, but the identity of her father was unspecified. She was baptised at the Church of St. Augustine as Marie Henriette Adelaide. When she was three months old, she was found by a physician called Dr. Séguin, who arranged for her to be adopted by Henry Fox, 4th Baron Holland, and his wife, the former Lady Augusta Coventry. Lord and Lady Holland had no biological children of their own, having gone through two stillbirths. Lady Holland was in her late thirties and Lord Holland insisted on adopting the girl. Her biological paternity remains a mystery; one rumor had it that she was her adoptive father's biological daughter born by his servant.
Life in London
Following the adoption, she was assigned to a nurse at Fontenay-aux-Roses and then a nanny, Madame Marque, before moving to her parents' residence, Holland House, London, in June 1853. Fox grew up unaware of her background. Her father died in 1859. As she approached her eighteenth birthday and marriageable age, her mother's legal adviser strongly recommended disclosing the information about the adoption to her. Lady Holland complied, but her own lack of full knowledge about the matter continued to pose problems. All people who knew the truth about the identity of her biological parents had died by then. Marie eventually became estranged from her mother. Her paternal aunt, Lady Lilford, wrote in 1867: "Marie is much grown and improved. She is a very nice and affectionate girl, and has been thoroughly well educated."
At the age of sixteen, Marie was courted by Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, but refused to marry him because she was unwilling to renounce Roman Catholicism. In the winter of 1871, which she spent with her mother in Naples, she was courted by Prince Louis of Liechtenstein, cousin of Prince Johann II. Their engagement was announced in the spring. The marriage ceremony took place in Kensington pro-cathedral on 27 June 1872 and was performed by Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, Archbishop of Westminster. Among the guests were the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Princely House of Liechtenstein initially refused to approve the marriage on the grounds of inequality of birth, but the princess was later accepted in Vienna. They had four daughters:
- Princess Sophie Maria Josepha (29 March 1873 - 2 March 1947), married in Graz on 31 July 1897 Franz Ürményi d'Ürmény, without issue
- Princess Julie Margarethe Maria (20 July 1874 - 3 July 1950), unmarried and without issue
- Princess Henriette Maria Josefa (6 July 1875 - 21 April 1958), a Benedictine nun under the name Sister Adelgundis
- Princess Marie Johanna Franziska (21 August 1877 -11 January 1939), married in Vienna on 7 June 1902 Franz, Count of Meran, and had issue
Rumours about Marie's biological parentage continued to circulate throughout her marriage. Soon after the wedding, the Marquis de Montaigu publicly denied the rumour that he was the princess's father and that her mother died in childbirth.
In 1874, Princess Marie published a book about Holland House and its art collection which sold well despite criticism from Abraham Hayward. Today, her work is significant for the history of the great house. She also translated literature from German into English. George Frederic Watts, who had also depicted her as a child and to whom she referred as a "faithful friend and wise protector", painted a portrait of her around that time. She died at Schloss Burgstall in Styria on 26 December 1878.
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