Prince Aribert of Anhalt
|Born||18 June 1866|
Wörlitz, Duchy of Anhalt
|Died||24 December 1933 (aged 67)|
Munich, Nazi Germany
Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein
(m. 1891; div. 1900)
|House||House of Ascania|
|Father||Frederick I, Duke of Anhalt|
|Mother||Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg|
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.
Prince Aribert was born in Wörlitz, Germany. He was the fourth son of Frederick I, Duke of Anhalt, and Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg. Anhalt was a Sovereign Duchy in the German Empire.
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. 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 remarry. Certainly, Aribert was known to holiday on Capri, an island with a reputation for attracting homosexual liaisons.
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When his nephew, Joachim Ernst, succeeded his father as Duke of Anhalt on 13 September 1918, Prince Aribert was appointed regent due to the young age of Joachim Ernst. Aribert's brief regency came to an end on 12 November 1918 when he abdicated in the name of his nephew following the German revolution. The duchy subsequently became the Free State of Anhalt.
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 been confirmed by the New York Times.
- Robert Aldrich, The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy Routledge, 1993.
- Gods, Mongrels And Demons by Angus Calder (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004)
- Greg King, Twilight of Splendor: The Court of Queen Victoria During Her Diamond Jubilee Year, John Wiley & Sons, 2007.
- Marlene A. Eilers 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.
Media related to Prince Aribert of Anhalt at Wikimedia Commons