Marie Fox

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Princess Marie
Marie Fox.jpg
This albumen print of Princess Marie, produced around 1872, was acquired by Queen Victoria and is now part of the Royal Collection.
Born 21 December 1850
Died 26 December 1878(1878-12-26) (aged 28)
Schloss Burgstall, Styria
Spouse Prince Aloys of Liechtenstein
(m. 1872–78; her death)
Issue Princess Sophie, Mrs. Ürményi
Princess Julie
Princess Henriette
Princess Marie, Countess of Meran, Baroness of Brandhofen
Full name
Marie "Mary" Henriette Adélaïde
Father unknown
Henry Edward Fox, 4th Baron Holland (adoptive)
Mother Victoire Magny
Lady Mary Augusta Coventry (adoptive)
Religion Roman Catholic

Princess Marie "Mary" Henriette Adélaïde of Liechtenstein (née Fox; 21 December 1850 – 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.


Marie Fox, aged three, with her pointer Ella, painted by George Frederic Watts

The future princess was born in Paris (though some sources wrongly say she was born in Florence) on 21 December 1850 (though some sources wrongly say she was born in January 1851). Her mother's name was given as Frenchwoman Victoire Magny of Soissons, but the identity of her father was unspecified.[1][2][3] She was baptised at the Church of St. Augustine as Marie Henriette Adélaïde.[1]

When she was three months old, she was found by a physician called Dr. Séguin, who arranged for her to be adopted by Henry Edward Fox, 4th Baron Holland, and his wife, the former Lady Mary Augusta Coventry.[3] Lord and Lady Holland had no biological children of their own, having gone through two stillbirths[2] and one short-lived child. Lady Holland was in her late thirties and Lord Holland insisted on adopting the girl.[3][4] Her biological paternity remains a mystery; one rumour had it that she was her adoptive father's biological daughter born by his servant.[3]

Life in London[edit]

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.[1][3] Fox grew up unaware of her background. Her adoptive father died in 1859. As she approached her eighteenth birthday and marriageable age, her adoptive mother's legal advisor 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.[3] All people who knew the truth about the identity of her biological parents had died by then.[1] Marie eventually became estranged from her adoptive mother.[3] Her adoptive 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."[1]


An illustration of Princess Marie on the cover of her book, Holland House

At the age of sixteen, Marie was courted by Archibald Primrose, later 5th Earl of Rosebery, but refused to marry him because she was unwilling to renounce Roman Catholicism.[5]

In the Winter of 1871, which she spent with her adoptive mother in Naples, she was courted by Prince Louis of Liechtenstein, first cousin of Prince Johann II. Their engagement was announced in the Spring. The marriage ceremony took place in Kensington pro-cathedral, London, on 27 June 1872 and was performed by Henry Edward Manning, Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster.[1] Among the guests were the Prince and Princess of Wales.[6] The Princely House of Liechtenstein initially refused to approve the marriage on the grounds of inequality of birth,[7] but the princess was later accepted in Vienna.[1] They had four daughters:[8]


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.[1]

In 1874, Princess Marie published a book about Holland House[3] and its art collection[9] which sold well despite criticism from Abraham Hayward.[1] Today, her work is significant for the history of the great house.[1] She also translated literature from German into English.[10] 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.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ilchester, 6th Earl of (1937). Chronicles of Holland House: 1820–1900. John Murray. 
  2. ^ a b "Fox, Hon. Henry Edward". 2004. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bryant, Barbara (2004). G.F. Watts portraits: fame & beauty in Victorian society. National Portrait Gallery. ISBN 185514347X. 
  4. ^ "Fox, Henry Edward". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  5. ^ Rhodes James, Robert (1964). Rosebery: a biography of Archibald Philip, fifth earl of Rosebery. Macmillan Publishers. 
  6. ^ Legge, Edward (1913). King Edward in his true colours. E. Nash. 
  7. ^ Fontenoy, Marquise de (1900). William II, Germany ; Francis-Joseph, Austria-Hungary. G. Barrie. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (1977). Burke's royal families of the world. Burke's Peerage. 
  9. ^ "Marie, Princess Aloys of Liechtenstein (Miss Fox), (1850–78)". Royal Collection. 2004. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  10. ^ De Vere, Aubrey. The household poetry book: an anthology of English-speaking poets from Chaucer to Faber. Burns & Oates.