On This Day: Death of Princess Friedrich Karl of Prussia

  May 12, 2016 at 8:33 am by

On this day in 1906 Princess Friedrich-Karl of Prussia -mother of the Duchess of Connaught- died of a stroke at Friederoda in Germany. The princess was born as Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau in 1837. She was the daughter of Duke Leopold IV of Anhalt and Princess Frederica Wilhelmina of Prussia.

In 1854 she married her second cousin, Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, son of Prince Karl of Prussia and Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. The prince was a general in the Prussian army. The marriage was not a happy one: the prince was a brute. He had booasted about “the brave soldiers all his sons would make”, which made him especially infuriated by the births of his daughters. When Anna was born, a furious prince boxed his wife’s ears.

It was only due to Emperor Wilhelm I’s intervention that a divorce was prevented. Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, noted on her arrival in Berlin that Prince Friedrich Karl was: “one of the most brutal men in existance”. It took her some time to understand why his wife was so “cowed by her husband”. She was however immidiately drawn to Princess Marie Anna, who become one of the people she liked best at the Prussian court. Vicky reported to her mother that the princess “is very amiable, the cleverest of them, and decidedly the most sensible.”

The couple had four daughters and eventually the long awaited son:

  • Princess Marie (1855-1888), who firstly married Prince Henry of the Netherlands and secondly Prince Albrecht of Saxe-Altenburg;
  • Princess Elisabeth (1857-1895), who married Grand Duke Friedrich August II of Oldenburg;
  • Princess Anna (1858-1858)
  • Princess Luise Margarethe (1860-1917), who married Prince Alfred of the United Kingdom, Duke of Connaught;
  • Prince Friedrich Leopold (1865-1931), who married Princess Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein;

Her husband Prince Frederick Charles died on 15 June 1885. After his death his widow left Germany and went to Italy.  left Berlin for Italy, staying mainly in Naples, Rome, and Florence. It was rumoured that she married morganatically with a capt. von Wagenheim, one of her equerries, but no proof of this marriage ever surfaced.

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