01 October 2020

The New Princess of Belgium

Princess Delphine of Belgium
by Luc van Braekel via Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2009, I wrote a post entitled How to Become a Princess. In the past, there really have been almost exclusively two ways: be born a princess or marry a prince. Today, Belgium added a new way: court order. On this day, the Belgian courts elevated 52-year-old artist Delphine Boël and both of her children, 17-year-old Josephine and 12-year-old Oscar to princely status.

Many readers of this blog may have dreamt of having such a conversation with your mother. On your 18th birthday, as you are celebrating becoming an adult at last, mom says there is something you need to know. Your real father is a prince. But, that rarely happens in real life. In recent decades, however, it has happened at least twice. California girl Jazmin Grace Grimaldi grew up knowing that her father was Prince Albert of Monaco, although he did not publicly acknowledge her or her younger French-born half-brother Alexandre Coste until DNA tests proved the fact. Albert acknowledged his paternity of 22-month-old Alexandre in 2005, after he became the ruling Prince Albert II. Ten months later, he finally acknowledged Jazmin, who was 14 at the time.

Born in Brussels in 1968, Delphine grew up thinking her father was her mother's husband, nobleman Jacques Boël. With him as her father, she was a jonkvrouw (translated "young lady"), the lowest rank in Belgian nobility. Her mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps and Jonkheer Jacques Boël divorced when Delphine was 10. A few years later, Sybille married a member of the British nobility, the Honourable Michael Cayzer and moved to England. It was 1986, when Sybille finally decided to tell her only child that she was the product of an 18-year affair with Prince Albert of Belgium, the younger brother of the well-respected by childless King Baudouin. 

Albert was born in 1934 as the third child of the young King Leopold III of Belgium and his wife, who had been born Princess Astrid of Sweden, a granddaughter of King Oscar II of Sweden on her mother's side and King Frederik VIII of Denmark on her mother's. When Albert was just 16 months old, his mother, pregnant with her fourth child, was killed in car accident. Leopold controversially remarried to Lilian Baels, who was given the title of Princess not Queen because their marriage was considered invalid under Belgian law. They had three children together. Although strongly disliked by the public, Lilian was loved by her stepchildren: Albert and his older siblings Prince Baudouin and Princess Josephine Charlotte. The entire family was kept under house arrest in Germany and then in Austria by the Nazis during World War II. Since Belgium is a kind of composite country of primarily Protestant Flemish speakers and traditionally Catholic French speakers, the war and its German occupation threatened to tear the delicate balance apart. Many feared that Leopold was actually a German collaborator who could no longer fill the symbolic role of national unifier. A 1950 referendum favored his return to Belgium but violent strikes soon followed. The following year, he abdicated in favor of Baudouin. Albert had just turned 16.

By the time Delphine was born in 1968, Prince Albert was married to Italian noblewoman Paola Ruffo di Calabria and had three royal children by her: Prince Philippe, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent. His brother King Baudouin had married a Spanish noblewoman Fabiola de Mora y Aragon, but the couple struggled to have children, with Fabiola suffering several unsuccessful pregnancies. In 1968, however, it still seemed unlikely that Albert would ever be king. As the years passed, the likelihood eventually became inevitable. Upon Baudouin's death in 1993, 59-year-old Duke of Liege became King Albert II of Belgium.    

In the meantime, Delphine had attended boarding schools in Switzerland and England before completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at London's Chelsea School of Art and Design and launching her art career. Her life seemed to roll along steadily, despite her mother's revelation, her "parents'" divorce and her stepfather's death in 1990. But, it all fell apart in 1999, when an unofficial biography of Queen Paola revealed that the king had had a long affair and fathered a child. It wasn't long before savvy reporters discovered that the unnamed child was Delphine. Both Delphine and her mother were pestered by the media to tell their story. The harassment became so unbearable for Sybille, that Delphine appealed directly to the king to intervene.

"You are not my daughter," he declared.

Embed from Getty Images

The following year, Delphine married James O'Hare. Once her daughter Josephine was born, motherhood prompted Delphine's desire to connect with her biological father, but he still refused her. Only then, did she finally speak to the media in 2005 to tell her story, alleging not only that the king was her father, but that he had hoped to divorce Paola and marry her mother at the time of her birth. As king, however, Albert had immunity leaving Delphine with no legal recourse except to attempt to get DNA from his other children, When that failed, she could do nothing more to prove who her father was.

But, the controversy took a toll on the monarch's reputation. Shortly after Delphine made those legal demands for DNA, Albert announced his abdication stating, "I realize that my age and my health are no longer allowing me to carry out my duties as I would like."

With his regal immunity no longer applicable, Delphine renewed her request for a paternity test. A 2017 court said she had no basis for her claim. In 2018 a different court asserted that Jacques Boël was not her father and ordered King Albert to submit a DNA test. He refused to comply. By 2019 a court began fining him 5000 euros (about $5,800) a day for noncompliance. He finally relented. The DNA results were made public in January 2020 and Albert confirmed his fatherhood by press release.

This latest ruling not only allows her and her children to claim the titles of Princesses and Prince, but also changes her surname to Saxe Cobourg. Her attorney told the media that while Delphine is delighted by the court's decision, the years of denials and court battles have been painful for her and her family. He said, "A legal victory will never replace the love a father but offers a sense of justice."

It is unclear what if any role the Princess Delphine will play in the royal family. She will almost certainly not be given any official duties, as was the case with King Albert's half-siblings, the children of Lilian Baels. Although titled as Prince Alexandre, Princess Marie-Christine and Princess Marie-Esmeralda, the three were excluded from the succession to the throne (some say without legal cause) and have led private lives only appearing with the family on some public family occasions. A businessman, Alexandre died in 2009 but his widow, Princess Lea (formerly Lea Wolman) still appears with the family. Marie-Esmeralda is a journalist, documentary filmmaker (focused on redeeming her mother's reputation) and activist for women's rights, indigenous people and the environment. Princess Marie-Christine, who lives in Washington state, has been estranged from the family (except Marie-Esmeralda) for decades. She did not even attend her parents' nor brothers' funerals.

In addition to the fact that both of these recent reluctant fathers are Albert II of their respective countries, there is one other interesting observation I'd like to make about this story. Delphine has named her children Oscar and Josephine. These were the names of the first Bernadotte king and queen of Sweden. Thanks to these court rulings in 2020, she can now legally claim descent from them through her father's mother -- but that descent has always been in her DNA. Unlike most European royals, however, she is not descended from Queen Victoria, though the family is related. They are descended from her uncle Leopold, who was the first King of Belgium.

20 May 2020

A Parcel of Old Maids

Princesses Charlotte, Augusta and Elizabeth
By Thomas Gainsborough in the Royal Collection via Wikimedia Commons
There are two things that everyone "knows" about King George III: he lost the Colonies and he went mad. While neither of these are exactly true, there are other things about him that I find fascinating. (Learn more on the official British Monarchy site.) Chief of these is that, when he was lucid, he was absolutely mad about his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. A byproduct of that devotion was a very large brood of children: 15 in total, with 13 surviving into adulthood during an age when even royal children had a high mortality rate. Six of those children were girls. George and Charlotte were extremely engaged parents, especially for royalty--playing with them in the floor, encouraging to farm little plots of land, taking them on family walks, etc. They adored their children, but the King was especially besotted by his little girls. Unlike nearly every other king you've ever heard of, he actually hoped that his wives' pregnancies would yield little girls. They were provided with a good education from a very young age and even encouraged to participate in athletic activities with their brothers, in addition to the usual ladylike pursuits of music, dancing, art and deportment. 

Wishing to form a more domestic image for the Royal Family over the scandalous and divisive nature of the generations preceding, George and Charlotte failed spectacularly. Their affection for their youngsters was a bit too smothering. They tried to manage every aspect of their offspring's lives. While the King and Queen were fabulously unsuccessful in keeping their rascally sons under control, they were able to exert much more authority over their daughters. So much so, that one of their nieces called them "a parcel of old maids." Forced to be companions to their mother and denied lives of their own, they even referred to themselves as a nunnery. Bored and lonely, the princesses longed for independence.

Despite the nearly confined nature of their lives, many of these princesses managed to find adventure and make some mischief of their own. Meet the daughters of King George III:

Charlotte Princess Royal
By William Beechey in the Royal Collection
via Wikimedia Commons
Charlotte, Princess Royal (1766-1828)

The fourth child and oldest daughter was named Charlotte after her mother. Known as Princess Royal from her infancy, she was not actually granted this traditional title of the firstborn daughter until she was in her early 20s. From the beginning, Charlotte was a favored child. Considered rather bright, she was given tutors when she was still a toddler. However, she was not a particularly pretty child and she struggled to overcome a stammer. She was, however, conscious of her position as Princess Royal, which made her a bit more pompous than the other girls. She was also the only daughter that King George III allowed to marry, but even this decision was quite delayed. In an era when princesses frequently married before they were 20, Charlotte married at age 30. Her husband, 12 years her senior, was the widowed Hereditary Prince Frederick of Wurttemberg. He succeeded his father as Duke a few months later and was raised to King of Wurttemberg by Napoleon in 1806 in recognition of the troops he had provided to Britain's most dangerous enemy. This made Charlotte the first Queen of the tiny kingdom, a monarchy that would be swept away just over a century later in the first World War. King Frederick eventually flipped sides in the Napoleonic wars and was supporting Britain when he passed away in 1816. Charlotte got pregnant quickly after her wedding but her infant was stillborn. This was her only child. However, she did serve as stepmother to Frederick's children by his first wife, who were aged 12 to 16 at the time of her wedding. Charlotte remained in Wurttemberg after Frederick's death, never returning to Britain until 1827, when her health caused her to seek treatment back home. She suffered greatly from dropsy, which today we would call edema. Not necessarily a disease itself, edema is fluid retention or swelling that can be caused by a number of illnesses of the heart, kidney or liver. (Some women will also develop edema temporarily during menstruation or pregnancy.) She returned to Wurttemberg after surgery, but died there a year later at the age of 62.

Princess Augusta
By Thomas Gainsborough in the Royal Collection
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Augusta (1768-1840)
The sixth born child and second daughter, Princess Augusta was born just two years after her older sister. (Brother Edward, the future father of Queen Victoria, was between them.) Augusta was named after her father's mother, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, who was better known as the Dowager Princess of Wales since her husband Frederick Prince of Wales died in 1751 before acceding the throne. Young Princess Augusta was thought prettier than her older sister, but she was shy and, like her older sister, stammered. She was well-educated along with her sisters, and was particularly devoted to her coin collection. Usually docile, she could also have a terrible temper. Potential royal marriages might have been possible. Her cousin, the future Danish King Frederick VI. would have married her, but George III was bitter over the way Frederick's mother, who was George's baby sister had been treated in that country.  (Read my post, A Scandalous Royal Marriage.) A Swedish prince was also declined, so Augusta made due with someone who was accessible: one of her father's equerries, Army officer Sir Brent Spencer. They kept their relationship secret, though Augusta did seek permission to marry him from her brother George once he had become the Regent for their ailing father. It is not known whether they officially married, but they remained a couple until his death in 1828. She survived another 12 years, passing away at 71.

Princess Elizabeth
By Thomas Gainsborough in the Royal Collection 
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840)
A year and a half younger than Augusta, Elizabeth rounded out the tightly knit trio of older sisters. She was named for her maternal grandmother Elizabeth of Saxe-Hildburghausen, who had passed away nine years earlier. Young Elizabeth was the most joyful and optimistic of the cloistered girls. She enjoyed the farm work imposed by their parents and was also a good artist, often creating works to benefit her charities. Endowed with a good sense of humor and down-to-earth attitude, she may have been their mother's favorite daughter. Elizabeth is thought to have had secret romantic relationships with men of the court, one of which may have resulted in the birth of a daughter. A royal marriage for her with the Duke of Orleans was declined, allegedly due to his Catholicism, but more likely just because her mother did not want to be parted from her. Nonetheless, once her brother George had taken control as Prince Regent, a suitable marriage was accepted over Queen Charlotte's objections. Shortly before her 47th birthday, Elizabeth married Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg, who was just a year older, and she went to live with him in Germany, where she greatly enjoyed the less formal atmosphere, especially after he succeeded as the Landgrave and she could control the court. In Germany, she devoted herself to a school she founded for the children of working mothers. Her husband died 11 years into their marriage and was succeeded by his brother. Elizabeth remained in Germany for the rest of her life, dying at age 69 just a few months before her older sister Augusta's death.

Princess Mary
By William Beechey in the Royal Collection
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Mary (1776-1857)

Three boys were born between Princess Elizabeth and Princess Mary. With a gap of six years between them, Mary became the eldest of the younger trio of princesses. Mary may have been the prettiest of all the sisters. As a teenager, she fell in love with Prince Frederick of Orange, who was exiled in England. King George III used the fact that her three older sisters were still unmarried as an excuse to deny the match. When the prince died a few years later, however, Mary was permitted to officially mourn him. For decades, she and her sisters were stifled -- it was she who declared that they spent their time "vegetating." She finally got her bid for freedom after her father's illness led to a permanent regency. Her brother George the Prince Regent approved her marriage to their cousin, Prince William Duke of Gloucester. Bride and groom were both 40 years old and they produced no offspring. Nevertheless, Mary had achieved freedom from her mother's control and, unlike her married sisters, she was able to stay in Britain. The Duke of Gloucester died in 1834 and she lived on until 1857. A particular favorite of her niece Queen Victoria, Mary was photographed with Victoria and two of Victoria's teenage children. She has the distinction of being the only one of George III's children to be photographed. She also was the last surviving and longest lived of his children, dying at age 81.

Princess Sophia
By William Beechey in the Royal Collection
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Sophia (1777-1848)
A year and a half younger than Mary, Sophia was their parents' twelfth child. Pretty and delightful though occasionally moody, Sophia found her life with her sisters "deadly dull", writing to their eldest brother, that their pleas for his help were so constant that she wondered why he did not "vote for putting us in a sack and drowning us in the Thames." Sophia has been more plagued by rumors than any of her sisters. One bit of unproven gossip alleges that she was raped by or had an incestuous affair with her extremely unpopular and scandalous brother Ernest Augustus, who later became King of Hanover. (He is the evil Uncle Cumberland in the Victoria television series.) A more likely fact-based rumor is attached to her romance (and perhaps secret marriage) to royal equerry and Army officer Thomas Garth, who was 33 years older than her. Their romance is said to have led to the birth of a son, also called Thomas Garth, who was raised by the Garth family. Historians are divided to this day whether Sophia ever had a child and, if so, whether the father was her brother or Garth. Sophia's child or not, the younger Thomas later attempted to blackmail the royal family over his origins, but failed. Never marrying, Sophia went to live at Kensington Palace after her mother's death. A year later, her niece Victoria was born and became her neighbor. This also placed Sophia in close proximity to Victoria's mother the Duchess of Kent. Like the Duchess, Sophia allowed Kent's comptroller to manager her financial affairs. Despite alleged misconduct with Sophia's money, Conroy may have been the one who thwarted young Thomas Garth's blackmail attempt. Like her father, Sophia grew blind and confused as she aged. Her sister Mary was with her when she died at age 71 at Kensington. Conroy's mismanagement -- or thievery -- had left her with no money in the end. 

Princess Amelia
From the Royal Collection via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Amelia (1783-1810)
Born three years after Queen Charlotte wrote "I would be happy if I knew this [pregnancy] would be the last time", Amelia was the fifteenth and final child born to King George III. Less than a year before Amelia arrived, their two youngest sons had died. Four-year-old Octavius and nearly two-year-old Alfred died after being inoculated against small pox; the older children survived their inoculations. With the early deaths of her nearest siblings, she was very much the baby of the family: six years younger than Princess Sophia and 21 years younger than their oldest brother George. In fact, three of her siblings were named her godparents. She was amiable but shared the tempestuous nature common in the family. Nicknamed Emily by her father, Amelia is widely believed to have been his favorite child. Amelia, however, had less opportunity to be attached to her father as she was only five years old when he first started having serious bouts of illness. Her own poor health also led to separation from the family as she was sent to the seaside for periods of recovery. During one of these convalescences, 18-year-old Amelia fell in love with a young equerry, Charles Fitzroy. Though she was not allowed to marry him, she said that she considered herself married to him. Several years later, she survived a bout of measles, but her health never really recovered and her sister Mary was assigned to nurse her. At age 27, she contracted a bacterial infection called St. Anthony's fire. In an age before antibiotics, this was a death sentence despite the numerous doctors her father sent to her. The family was devastated by her death, especially Princess Mary and the King himself, who fell into another bout of "madness" from which he never again returned to lucidity. In his delusions, George III would imagine that his Emily was healthy and living in Germany. In her will, Amelia left everything to Charles Fitzroy but the family prevented him from receiving any of it. 

Princess Mary, Princess Sophia
and Princess Amelia

By John Singleton Copley in the Royal Collection via Wikimedia Commons

For more about the Daughters of King George III:
"A parcel of old maids" on History of Royal Women
The Strangest Family on The Guardian

Books about the Daughters of King George III:

16 May 2020

The Popular Crown Princess

By Caspar Ritter via Wikimedia Commons
Crown Princess Cecilie was nothing if not practical. All of her life, she had faced trials and heartbreak with equanimity. She had survived war and revolution. Even when her husband was forced to leave his country and was later denied the Imperial German throne for which he had been born, Cecilie remained steadfast. She stayed in the home that had been built for her, the enormous Cecilenhof in Potsdam near Berlin and she adapted as needed, sending her sons to ordinary schools. She was the daughter of a Russian grand duchess and the daughter-in-law of the last German Kaiser, but none of that mattered in 1945 as Russia's Red Army battled its way through eastern Germany toward Berlin. These were the revolutionaries who had assassinated three of her Romanov uncles and innumerable cousins. Cecilie knew it was finally time to leave her home. Perhaps she took one wistful glance back as the car whisked her away, remembering those too-brief years when her children had played in Cecilienhof's six courtyards.

The youngest child of the German Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaievna, Cecilie was born into a peripatetic existence. As her father's subjects insisted, she had been born in Mecklenburg after her older brother and sister were born abroad. Nevertheless, the family continued to spend most of their time in southern Europe, where the climate better suited her father's asthmatic lungs, and Russia, where they indulged in the imperial splendor that would be swept away.

Cecilie faced her first personal tragedy at the tender age of 13 in the beautiful city of Cannes on the French Riviera. Her father, Friedrich Francis, was found lying at the foot of wall outside of the family's home. Had his deteriorating health caused him to become dizzy and to fall over? Or, as the quickly published rumors would have it, did the despairing 46-year-old fling himself to his death? The family hastened back to Mecklenburg, where her 15-year-old brother was now the ruling Grand Duke, but they didn't stay rooted there. A year later, her older sister Alexandrine married the future King Christian IX of Denmark and moved to Copenhagen. Their mother, only 36 when she was widowed, found entertainment elsewhere, gambling and dancing in Monte Carlo and elsewhere. Five years after her husband's death, Anastasia retreated to Villa Wenden, one of the properties she had inherited from him, with a severe case of chicken pox. As it turns out, the Grand Duchess wasn't poxy, she was pregnant. Her son by her private secretary was born there. Named Alexis Louis, he was raised by his mother, and later her son-in-law, the Danish king officially granted him the surname de Wenden after the place of his birth.

Despite the scandalous nature of her mother's open secret, young Cecilie's reputation appears to have been unharmed. She was still considered a worthy bridal candidate for Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany when he met the 17-year-old dark-eyed beauty at her brother's wedding in 1904. A year later, Cecilie and her mother were welcomed to Berlin with great fanfare for Germany's wedding of the century. Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife Empress Augusta Viktoria were eager for their rascally oldest son to marry, hoping, perhaps that it would settle him down. It did not. So, while the New York Times speculated that Cecilie was not just his arranged bride but his true sweetheart, the teenager entered into a loveless marriage with a blackguard and braggart who took pleasure in boasting to her of his extramarital escapades.

Nevertheless, sensible and bright, Cecilie quickly adapted to her role as Crown Princess and won the love of her new family and the people, if not of her husband. Within 10 years, she had produced four healthy sons and was expecting her fifth baby. Although the country was embroiled in the Great War, she was secure. She continued her role of establishing and leading various charitable works, especially those linked to education for girls. Of course, like all royal women in war time, she also looked in on hospitals and talked with wounded men. At home, construction of Cecilienhof was nearing completion.

From left to right: Prince William, Prince Hubertus, Crown Princess Cecilie, Crown Prince William, Prince Frederick and Prince Louis Ferdinand. Front row: Princess Alexandrine and Princess Cecilie By Wilhelm Niederastroth via Wikimedia Commons
The Crown Princess was at home in Berlin at the Kronprinsenpalais when she felt the first pangs of her labor. It wasn't long until, at last, she held her very first daughter in her arms. As she stared into the baby girl's eyes, the war probably seemed very far away. She named the baby Princess Alexandrine after her sister. But, it wasn't long before something started to bother her. There was something different about her eyes. Did she seem a bit less active than her brothers? Was her face a little too flat? As those first months passed, it became clear that Alexandrine was indeed different from her siblings. She had Down syndrome. While other royal babies with health issues were sheltered or even hidden from the public, Cecilie and Wilhelm agreed that would not be the fate of their little blonde beauty. While Britain's epileptic Prince John was moved into his own home separate from his family during World War I, his cousin Alexandrine stayed at home in the loving embrace of her parents and siblings, including little sister Princess Cecilie, who was born two years later. Like all of the imperial children, her photos appeared on postcards and she was present for public events. Later, they even sent her to a school especially for girls with special needs. (Read my post about her daughters Alexandrine and Cecilie.)

Just a year after little Cecilie's birth, Germany was clearly losing the war and a Revolution erupted. Crown Princess Cecilie's father-in-law and her husband abdicated and fled to The Netherlands in November 1918. At first, Cecilie sought to flee what might happen living so close to Berlin -- the Russian Revolution had already murdered her uncle Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich while two other uncles and many cousins were being held by the Bolsheviks; all of them would be dead within the next year. She took the children to her mother-in-law Empress Augusta Victoria (read my post about her), but she was devoted to her husband Kaiser Wilhelm and soon made arrangements to join him in exile. After a bit, it became clear that the German Revolution would not be as bloody as the one in Russia. Also, as one of the most popular members of the Imperial Family, Cecilie was secure back home at Cecilienhof, where she sent her sons to ordinary schools.

Soon, a punitive peace agreement was reached and Germany struggled under financial reparations and economic catastrophe. Cecilie stayed in Germany, raising her children alone, while the new government deprived the family of property and income. Crown Prince Wilhelm was eventually allowed to return in 1923, and a financial settlement was finally reached which restored some property and income to the family. Cecilienhof, however, was taken by the state. Due largely to her popularity, Cecilie was granted to right to live there for her lifetime. She and the Crown Prince rarely lived in the same home at the same time, alternating mostly between Cecilienhof and Castle Oels.

Princess Alexandrine, Crown
Princess Cecilie and Princess Cecilie
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2003-1014-505 via Wikimedia Commons

The extended family struggled with finding its role during the period between the two World Wars, with the Emperor and the Crown Prince both awaiting a call to return to the throne. Initially, the rise of Hitler gave them hope, mostly because Hitler led them to believe what they wanted to believe. With a new war looming, Cecilie's sons were soon in harms way. When the war started in 1939, the four princes were aged 28 to 33, prime ages for military service. The youngest, Prince Frederick, was studying in England at Cambridge. Within months he was interned as a prisoner of war in Britain before being sent to different camps in Canada. (After the war, he married Lady Brigid Guinness and was naturalized as a British citizen.) Meanwhile, 29-year-old Prince Hubertus was among the German troops that invaded Poland and launched the war. Second-born Prince Louis Ferdinand was working in the aviation industry, never having served in the military unlike most German princes from every generation. Even with the war, Hitler prevented him from joining the services. Hitler did allow the oldest son Prince Wilhelm to serve. Six years earlier, Wilhelm had renounced his succession rights in order to marry a woman of lower status, so it was Louis Ferdinand, not he, who was considered the next heir to the defunct throne that the Fuhrer was still dangling in front of the family.

Soon, young Wilhelm's fate would change to the war for the rest of the family. During the invasion of France in May 1940, he was gravely injured and died within a few days. The fake monarchist Adolph Hitler allowed his body to be returned to Germany and to be buried in family mausoleum. When tens of thousands of mourners showed up, Hitler got nervous. He realized that the family still retained extensive popularity, which could become a threat to his Reich. From that summer on, all members of the former German ruling houses, not just the Imperial Family, were barred from military service. This at least meant that Cecilie would lose no more children to the war.

Nearly five years later, as the German war effort once again fell into disaster, Cecilie had to worry more about the approaching liberators, for it was the Soviet Army that was advancing into Berlin. These were the same people who had slaughtered dozens for her maternal relatives at the end of the last war. The 59-year-old Crown Princess fled south to Bavaria to Bad Kissingen, a sanatorium run by her now deceased father-in-law's former doctor. She stayed there for seven years, with her children and her husband visiting occasionally. Her youngest daughter married an American and moved to Texas in 1949. Then, Prince Hubertus died from an attack of appendicitis in 1950. A year later, she attended her husband's funeral back at Castle Hohenzollern.

In 1952, Cecilie moved to an apartment in Stuttgart, but she traveled for family occasions, like the christenings of her growing brood of grandchildren. In May 1954, she returned to Bavaria for a visit to Bad Kissingen and passed away there. Her body was taken to Castle Hohenzollern to be buried next to the husband who had so rarely been at her side.

More about Crown Princess Cecilie
Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, German Crown Princess on Unofficial Royalty
Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin - The Last Crown Princess of Germany on History of Royal Women
Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia on The Royal Watcher
Crown Princess Cecilie's Faberge Tiara on The Court Jeweller
Duchess Cecilie has arrived in Berlin on Royal Musings
The Princess & Her Palace on The Esoteric Curiosa
The Prussian Meander Tiara on The Court Jeweller
The Prussian Meander Tiara on The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
See Two Rare Faberge Tiaras on Town and Country