23 March 2017

The Reverse Fairytale of Louise of Austria

In the days before TV talk show hosts scheduled daily DNA paternity tests, determining the parentage of a royal child was usually taken for granted: the child of a married woman was presumed to be the child of the woman's husband. Not so when Crown Princess Louise of Saxony gave birth to her seventh child in 1903.

A kind of personal war had erupted between the former Archduchess Louise of Austria, daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and her German in-laws. They didn't care for her lax manners and she didn't like their overbearing attitudes. Although she regularly fulfilled her royal obligation of delivering heirs to the throne, rumors began to circulate that her behavior was looser than mere manners. Her name was linked to other men, including her children's French tutor, a man named Andre Giron. When her father-in-law King George threatened to send her to an asylum, Louise turned to Giron for help and it soon became clear that the rumors were well-founded. The pair escaped to Switzerland with the help of her self-exiled brother. However, Louise was carrying more than just her luggage when she arrived; she was also carrying her seventh child.

The king, per his royal prerogative declared her divorced from his son, Crown Prince Frederick Augustus. The divorce was already completed by the time Louise's daughter, Anna Monika Pia, was born. With all of the accusations, the royal family might have believed she was the daughter of almost anyone--so, they sent a doctor to determine whether the baby was a princess or not. Using his expert opinion, the doctor determined that she looked more German than French and the Saxon royal family demanded the baby's return. Louise refused, using the child to leverage better financial compensation. Even after she broke off the affair with Giron and married Italian musician Enrico Toselli.

Princess Anna Monika was not returned permanently to the Saxon court until she was nearly five years old.

Louise, who had a son by Toselli (whom she later divorced) lived a rather peripatetic life, bouncing from relative to relative and country to country. After the Saxon monarchy collapsed in World War I, she moved to Belgium and was there when the Germans overran the country in World War II. A modern days Eliza Doolittle, she was forced to piece together a living by selling flowers in Brussels. She died destitute there 70 years ago today on March 23, 1947 but her body was returned to Saxony to buried near some of her royal children.

For more about Louise:
Archduchess Louise of Austria, Crown Princess of Saxony on Maria's Royal Collection
Crown Prince of Saxony to Reconcile with His Wife on Royal Musings
Crown Princess Louise blog
Louise of Saxony in Geneva with Her Lover on Royal Musings
Secret Memoirs of Royal Saxony on The Esoterica Curiosa

For more about Anna Monica Pia:
The Princess Monica in The Sydney Morning Herald

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