Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein
|Princess Marie Louise|
|Princess Aribert of Anhalt|
Princess Marie Louise in the 1890s
12 August 1872|
Cumberland Lodge, Old Windsor
8 December 1956 (aged 84)|
Berkeley Square, London
14 December 1956|
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
3 April 1957
Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore
|Spouse||Prince Aribert of Anhalt|
|Father||Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein|
|Mother||Princess Helena of the United Kingdom|
Princess Marie Louise was born at Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor Great Park. Her father was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the third son of Duke Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and Countess Louise of Danneskjold-Samsøe. Her mother was Princess Helena, the fifth child and third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. She was baptized on 18 September 1872. Her godparents were Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and Queen Marie of Hanover.
Her parents resided in the United Kingdom, and the Princess was considered a member of the British Royal Family. Under Royal Warrant of May 15 1867, the children of Prince and Princess Christian were to be styled "Highness". From her birth in 1872 therefore Princess Marie Louise was styled Her Highness Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein in the United Kingdom. She was known to her family as "Louie".
On 6 July 1891, Princess Marie Louise married Prince Aribert of Anhalt (18 June 1866 – 24 December 1933) at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Prince Aribert was the third son of Frederick I, Duke of Anhalt, and his wife, Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg. The bride's first cousin, the German Emperor Wilhelm II, had been instrumental in arranging the match.
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. The marriage was annulled on 13 December 1900 by his father. Princess Marie Louise, on an official visit to Canada at the time, immediately returned to Britain. According to her memoirs, she regarded her marriage vows as binding, so she never remarried.
Activities, charity and patronages
After the annulment, Princess Marie Louise devoted herself to charitable organisations and patronage of the arts. She inspired the creation of Queen Mary's Dolls' House to showcase the work of British craftsmen. She established the Girl's Club in Bermondsey that served as a hospital during World War I. She was also active in the work of the Princess Christian Nursing Home at Windsor. She took part in all official occasions of the royal family, including coronations and funerals and processed as a princess of the blood royal at events such as the coronation of George VI and the carriage procession for princesses of the blood royal at the coronation of Elizabeth II.
In 1919 the Wolf Cub pack from the 4th Streatham Scout Group, met Princess Marie Louise on her visit to Streatham, South London. The group provided her with a guard of honour for her visit to Streatham. She was so impressed with the group and their high standards, that she declared the group as her own, and it has since been known as the 4th Streatham Sea Scout Group (Princess Marie Louise's Own).
World War I
In July 1917, when George V changed the name of the British Royal House from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to House of Windsor, he also ordered his numerous cousins and in-laws, who were British subjects, to discontinue the use of their German titles, styles, and surnames. Never taking other titles or surnames, Princess Marie Louise and her unmarried sister, Princess Helena Victoria, became known simply as "HH Princess Marie Louise" and "HH Princess Helena Victoria", giving them the odd distinction of being princesses but not, apparently, members of any particular royal family. This approach differed from the one accepted by George V's other relatives, who relinquished all princely titles, not just their German designations, and in turn received British titles of nobility from the King. Their titles of Princess were derived from their father, and they were not officially princesses of the United Kingdom. However, their unmarried status and their right to be styled Highness dating from Queen Victoria's concession of 1867 rendered their situations awkward, so that it was easier to allow them to retain their status as princesses while avoiding the question of immediate family membership altogether.
Princess Marie Louise attended four coronations in Westminster Abbey, those of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark in 1902; George V and Mary of Teck in 1911; George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1937; and Elizabeth II in 1953. In 1956, she published her memoirs, My Memories of Six Reigns. She died at her London home, 10 Fitzmaurice Place, Berkeley Square, a few months later and is buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore at Windsor Great Park.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
- 1872–1891: Her Highness Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein
- 1891–1900: Her Highness Princess Aribert of Anhalt
- 1900–1917: Her Highness Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein
- 1917–1956: Her Highness Princess Marie Louise
- VA: Lady of the Order of Victoria and Albert (1893)
- CI: Lady of the Order of the Crown of India
- GCVO: Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (1953)
- GBE: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (1919)
- RRC: Member of the Royal Red Cross
- NPG: Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg with their bridesmaids and others on their wedding day http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw145863/Prince-and-Princess-Henry-of-Battenberg-with-their-bridesmaids-and-others-on-their-wedding-day?LinkID=mp89748&role=art&rNo=2
- 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."
- King, Greg (2007). Twilight of Splendor. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-470-04439-1.
- In May 1867, Queen Victoria granted the style of Highness to any children born of the marriage of Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. In June 1917, a notice appeared in the Court Circular that a Royal Warrant was to be prepared permitting George V's cousins to stop using the "of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg" part of their titles. However, no warrant was prepared, and they were never formally granted the titles of Princesses of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Ronald Allison and Sarah Riddell, eds., The Royal Encyclopedia (London: Macmillan, 1992).
- Marlene A. Eilers, Queen Victoria's Descendants (New York: Atlantic International Publishing, 1987).
- Princess Marie Louise (née Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenberg), My Memories of Six Reigns (London: Evans Brothers, 1956).
- "Obituary: Princess Marie Louise, Patron of Social Services," The Times 10 December 1956, p. 14.