Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein

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For other people called Princess Marie Louise, see Princess Marie Louise (disambiguation).
Princess Marie Louise
Princess Aribert of Anhalt
Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein.jpg
Princess Marie Louise in the 1890s
Born (1872-08-12)12 August 1872
Cumberland Lodge, Old Windsor
Died 8 December 1956(1956-12-08) (aged 84)
Berkeley Square, London
Burial Frogmore, Windsor
Spouse Prince Aribert of Anhalt
Full name
Franziska Josepha Louise Augusta Marie Christina Helena
House Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
Father Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
Mother Princess Helena of the United Kingdom
Occupation Charity work

Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein VA, CI, GCVO, GBE, RRC (Franziska Josepha Louise Augusta Marie Christina Helena; 12 August 1872 – 8 December 1956) was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

Early life[edit]

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 christened 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 a bridesmaid at the 1885 wedding of her maternal aunt Princess Beatrice, to Prince Henry of Battenberg.[1]


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.

The marriage, however, was unhappy and childless. (Years after the fact, it was debated that Aribert was homosexual and had been caught in bed with a servant, either by Marie Louise or his father.) In December 1900, her father-in-law used his prerogative as reigning Duke of Anhalt to annul the marriage. 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. Her memoirs do, however, indicate rage over her marital experience and an obvious dislike of her former husband.[2]

Princess Marie Louise in the 1910s

Activities, charity and patronages[edit]

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 [3] and the carriage process for Princesses of the Blood Royal at the Coronation of Elizabeth II [4]


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)"

Photograph from 1919 of the Cub Scouts meeting Princess Marie Louise

World War I[edit]

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 acquired British titles of nobility. Under that precedent, Marie Louise and her sister likely would have been known as "Lady Marie Louise New Surname" and "Lady Helena Victoria New Surname." Though their titles of Princess were derived from their father, and their style of Highness derived from the 1887 concession granted by Queen Victoria, and both effective in the United Kingdom, they were not officially princesses of the United Kingdom.[5] 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.

Later life[edit]

Princess Marie Louise attended four coronations in Westminster Abbey, those of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1901; George V and Queen Mary in 1911; George VI and Queen Elizabeth 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.

Princess Marie Louise was a frequent visitor to the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham before the Second World War. A report comes in from a London Vicar saying when she visited that church she saw a shrine of Our Lady and exclaimed "Oh! Our Lady of Walsingham". Fr. X said: "Have you been there?" "Of course I have! And I am the first of our family to visit it since Henry VIII."[citation needed]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Royal styles of
Princess Marie Louise
Insigne Britanniarum Regni.svg
Reference style Her Highness
Spoken style Your Highness
Alternative style Ma'am


  • 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




  1. ^ NPG: Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg with their bridesmaids and others on their wedding day
  2. ^ The circumstances of the end of the marriage of Princess Marie Louise and Prince Aribert are unclear. The 1903 edition of the Almanach de Gotha states that they were divorced on 13 December 1900. The 1904 edition of "Whitaker's Alamanac", on the other hand, states that "her marriage was dissolved by joint request on account of a new family law of that Ducal House." Marlene A. Eilers surmises that Prince Aribert had been discovered in a compromising position with another man.[citation needed]. Princess Marie Louise's uncle, Edward VII, summed up the situation, saying, "Ach, poor Louise, she has returned as she went--a virgin."[citation needed]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ As a male-line granddaughter of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Marie Louise would have been styled Serene Highness. However, 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. The children were still princes or princesses of Schleswig-Holstein and the style Highness was only in effect in the United Kingdom, not in Germany. In June 1917, a notice appeared in the Court Circular that a Royal Warrant was to be prepared permitting his 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.