Prince Aribert of Anhalt
|Spouse||Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein|
|German: Aribert Joseph Alexander|
|House||House of Ascania|
|Father||Frederick I, Duke of Anhalt|
|Mother||Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg|
18 June 1866|
Wörlitz, Duchy of Anhalt
|Died||24 December 1933
Munich, Nazi Germany
Prince Aribert Joseph Alexander of Anhalt (18 June 1866 - 24 December 1933) was regent of Anhalt from September to November 1918 on behalf of his underage nephew, Duke Joachim Ernst. As regent, following the German revolution, he abdicated in the name of his nephew on 12 November 1918, thus ending the rule of the House of Ascania in Anhalt.
On 6 July 1891, he married Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Princess Marie Louise was the daughter of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Helena of the United Kingdom, making her a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. The bride's first cousin, the German Emperor Wilhelm II, had been instrumental in arranging the match. In December 1900, the Duke of Anhalt used his prerogative as reigning Duke to annul the marriage, Aribert having agreed to such a proposition made by his wife.
Princess Marie Louise, on an official visit to Canada at the time, immediately returned to England. According to her memoirs, she regarded her marriage vows as binding, so she never remarried. Her memoirs do, however, indicate rage over her marital experience and an obvious dislike of her former husband.
Though contemporary sources did not directly suggest it was a cause of his marriage dissolution, a number of contemporaries and subsequent historical accounts suggest Aribert was bisexual or homosexual, and some have suggested an indiscretion with a male attendant was the catalyst for the dissolution and that the marriage had never been consummated. However, other sources later suggested he was planning to re-marry. Certainly, Aribert was known to holiday on Capri, an island with a reputation for attracting homosexual liaisons.
When his nephew, Joachim Ernst, succeeded his father as Duke of Anhalt on September 13, 1918, Prince Aribert was appointed regent due to the young age of Joachim Ernst. Aribert's brief regency came to an end on November 12, 1918 when he abdicated in the name of his nephew following the German revolution. The duchy subsequently became the Free State of Anhalt.
Prince Aribert died in Munich aged 67 on December 24, 1933.
References and notes
- Royal Couple Separated (New York Times, 14 November 1900)
- The 1903 edition of the Almanach de Gotha states that they were divorced on 13 December 1900 and the contemporary report from the New York Times confirms this.
- The 1904 edition of Whitaker's Almanack states that "her marriage was dissolved by joint request on account of a new family law of that Ducal House" which seems to also have be confirmed by the New York Times.
- The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy by Robert Aldrich (Routledge, 1993)
- Gods, Mongrels And Demons by Angus Calder (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004)
- Twilight of Splendor: The Court of Queen Victoria During Her Diamond Jubilee Year by Greg King (John Wiley & Sons, 2007)
- Marlene A. Eilers also suggests that Prince Aribert had been discovered in a compromising position with another man.
- Princess Marie Louise's uncle, Edward VII, summed up the situation, saying, "Ach, poor Louise, she has returned as she went-- a virgin."
- Prince Aribert Gives Up His Rights to a Throne (Saint John Daily Sun, 23 January 1904)
- Robert Aldrich, The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy, London, 1993