15 March 2015

Today's Princess: Frederica of Schleswig Holstein Sonderburg Glucksburg

Via Wikimedia Commons
Born amidst the intertangling geneaology of Danish royal and noble lines, Frederica of Schleswig Holstein Sonderburg Beck (1811-1902) was born with relatively minor rank. On her father's side, she was the great-great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter of King Christian III of Denmark. On her mother's, she was a great-granddaughter of a King Frederick V of Denmark, but these tenuous connections became increasingly important.

When she was a teenager, the extinction of the more senior Glucksburg branch of the dynasty, led the current king to grant the Duchy of Glucksburg to her father, thus raising the status of the whole family. Later, a series of royal divorces and childless marriages left the royal house itself without the hope of an heir. In 1852, Frederica's younger brother was selected as the next King of Denmark, and in 1863, he became King Christian IX. Through him, Frederica was the aunt of a Danish king, a Greek king, a Hanoverian crown princess, an English queen, and a Russian empress.

Frederica's life was somewhat less regal than her illustrious familial connections might suggest. At age 23, she married Alexander Karl Duke of Anhalt Bernburg. However, the couple had no children and their home life was undoubtedly tumultuous as it became more and more apparent that her husband suffered from an aggressive mental illness. Some have speculated that it was schizophrenia. After 21 years of marriage, authority over the duchy was transferred to Frederica as regent. Alexander Karl spent the last eight years of his life under close medical supervision. The duchy then passed to a distant cousin.

Frederica survived him by nearly forty years. She died at the age of 90 shortly after the turn of the 19th Century.

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