Author Topic: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)  (Read 249683 times)

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Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2004, 12:31:11 PM »
Penny, thank you for both articles re: Elizabeth--on this website, and in Majesty magazine. And for those interested in Elizabeth, do check out each one, because although they relay much of the same info, they also have different organization and features.

Laurie

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2004, 05:29:43 PM »
Penny - Thanks for your note about little Elizabeth. I really enjoyed your article on her in MAJESTY.  I am glad to know there are things in Darmstadt that had belonged to her and are in the archives.  Maybe one day I will get there and be able to see them as well!
I look forward to your book!

Offline Greg_King

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2004, 08:34:40 AM »
Quote
I know above the door of little Elisabeth's dolls house at Wolfsgarten are some lines, i believe they are in verse.. does anyone know what they are, or who may have written them??? I wondered first of all whether they may have been written by Ernie, but im not sure. Would be so great to find out!!!

Elisa :)


The quote is “This Little House was Built Just for Me in the Year 1902.”  It was put up by Ernie before he first took Elisabeth to the forest to show her the house.

Greg King

Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2004, 01:07:05 PM »
I really like this little poem:

“You came, you went, with hardly a trace,
A fleeting guest on this earth.  
From where to where?  We only know:
From the hand of God to the hand of God.”

Ernie wrote it after Elisabeth's death, and it's posted inside the little house, under a portrait of Elisabeth that hangs in the little kitchen.  

I like the poem especially because it shows true depth of feeling without a lot of syrupy, saccharine sentiment...
"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts."  -- A Piece of Good Advice

Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real good. -- Henry Rollins

Offline Louise

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2004, 10:15:02 AM »
Thanks for that info on the naming of Elizabeth. I'm delighted anytime I read that Victoria's children or grandchildren defied her in the naming of their children.

Louise
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Offline HRHLaurie1894

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2004, 05:13:23 PM »
Is there an English translation of the book "Erinnertes" by Grand Duck Ernie???  I would love to read that but do not understand German.

Offline HRHLaurie1894

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2004, 05:43:00 PM »
Thanks!

Offline jackie3

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2004, 11:21:30 PM »
I've only seen 2 pictures of Princess Elizabeth - one with her cousins Olga and Tatiana and one of her from a wide distance (kinda blurry) but am I the only one who sees more than a distinct resemblence facially with her grandmother, Princess Alice? I think they looked very much alike and agree if she had lived would have carried on the tradition of beautiful Hessian princesses. She seemed to have very deep eyes.

Her picture with the much fairer O+T remind me of the GDs pictures with their cousin Princess Irina (Xenia and Sandro's daughter) whose dark looks in comparison to the GDs appear very distinctive.

Offline HRHLaurie1894

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2004, 05:45:39 PM »
Where did you find the picture of Queen Victoria with her arm around little Elizabeth?  That is so touching - I would love to see that.  Are there any pictures of little Elizabeth with Alexandra?  What was Alexandra's relationship with little Elizabeth like?

Offline bookworm8571

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2004, 07:46:26 PM »
From what I remember, Ernie's and Victoria Melita's daughter was, like her aunt, also nicknamed Ella. She looked very much like her mother in the pictures I've seen of her.

There is a memoir somewhere on this site written by one of the Grand Duchesses' nannies that described how the girls nearly burned down the nursery while Ella was staying with her cousins. There was a childish misunderstanding about what would cause a fire and what wouldn't. How terrible that all three of those children would die so young. I don't believe in family curses, but the fate of the Hesse family does make you wonder, doesn't it?

I've always thought this poor child's life was indescribably sad. She was a child of divorce, wrenched between two parents and at the center of a scandal. How unusual it was that her mother actually got something resembling shared custody. I would guess that commoners who left their husbands in that era would have lost all contact with their children. It made me wonder what kind of battle went on behind the scenes.

In some ways it's like her existence was an inconvenience that was rectified later. After her death, both parents remarried more suitable spouses and went on to have other children. Little Ella, the sole living reminder of the disastrous marriage and other family, was swept away as if she didn't exist.

Her father's anger at her mother kept him from notifying her of her illness until it was too late for Victoria Melita to reach her deathbed. How sad for that baby to die in pain and not to have both parents with her. What must she have been thinking? I wonder if Victoria Melita ever forgave Alexandra and Ernest.

Little Ella may have preferred her father, as he wrote in his memoirs, and cried and hid behind the couch when it was time to leave for visitation with her mother. Still, I tend to think it was with a good deal of encouragement from Ernest. Ernest was gay and Victoria Melita wasn't willing to live such an unhappy life. It's a pity that the little girl was too young to understand that her father wasn't perfect and her mother didn't leave because she didn't love her.  

Joanna Mayer

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2004, 07:50:57 AM »
I am sorry- perhaps I am mistaken but I thought that Ernst of Hesse was gay and that the marrage to Victoria M. was something that in that era couldn't be helped...Maybe I am thinking of someone else...Anyone?

Joanna Mayer

Offline bookworm8571

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2004, 01:09:07 PM »
There is a biography of Victoria Melita called "A Fatal Passion" by Michael John Sullivan, published in 1997, that asserts that Ernest was homosexual or bisexual and that contributed to Ducky's desire for a divorce. When they married, they discovered they were "sexually incompatible"  and Ernie discovered he "could not be an adequate husband to her" and "he was not attracted to her." That's on page 136 of the book and is apparently quoted from an biography of Ducky's sister Queen Marie of Roumania.

On page 182 of Sullivan's biography, there is a recounting of Ducky's apparent discovery of Ernest in bed with one of the stablehands when she returned unexpectedly to Darmstadt. Here is the direct quote from the book:
 
  "Exactly what happened will never be known, but to judge by what Ducky told her niece years later, she saw Ernie in bed with one of the teenaged boys employed in the palace kitchen. So great was the shock that Ducky was physically ill for several days, unable to face her husband or anyone else in the palace.
  "As she gradually regained her composure a deep sense of shame replaced her grief. For apparently almost everyone in the palace knew of the grand duke's proclivity. While Ducky had been away in Romania, he had been left alone to freely indulge it, and he had apparently carried on in the most indiscreet manner. 'No boy was safe,' Ducky bitterly told her niece, 'from the stable hands to the kitchen help. He slept quite openly with them all.' "

The above is a quote from Terrence Elsberry's Marie of Roumania, according to the footnotes by Sullivan.

Elsewhere in Sullivan's biography of Victoria Melita, he states that she kept silent about Ernest's homosexuality. About 30 years later, when her niece, Princess Ileana of Romania, found out that her fiance was gay, Ducky told her about what happened with Ernest, according to the book.

  Obviously no one was to blame for the death of little Princess Elizabeth. Typhoid was unfortunately common in that era, and contaminated water a common hazard. I think that Ernest and the Tsarina Alexandra and other adults CAN be blamed for not notifying Elizabeth's mother that her daughter was ill in time for her to reach her bedside.

  In Robert Massie's famous "Nicholas and Alexandra," he states that Alexandra ignored the advice of the doctor that she should notify Victoria Melita of Elizabeth's illness. Here's Sullivan's account of Elizabeth's death:

  "But one morning Elizabeth woke early, complaining of a dry throat and severe pains in her chest. Within a short time she was 'in agony, panting feverishly for breath.' A doctor was immediately called, but he could do nothing for the suffering child. More specialists arrived. Elizabeth failed to respond to their treatments. Alarmed, 'the doctors warned the Tsarina that the child's mother should be called at once.' Alix ignored their advice until Elizabeth's condition deteriorated so rapidly that the doctors insisted.
  "Ducky was having breakfast at the Rosenau when the message arrived announcing her daughter's illness. She immediately went upstairs and began packing her bags.
  "But another telegram arrived an hour and a half later, describing Elizabeth's condition as 'grave.'
  "Ducky became frantic. She stopped packing, quickly grabbed all she could carry, and ran to her carriage. But just as she was leaving for the train station, the postman came galloping up the road with a third telegram. It was cruelly brief.
  'Ducky's little daughter had just died.' "

  Here, Sullivan is quoting from John Van Der Kiste's biography"Victoria Melita."

  From reading this biography, and Massie's account of the same incident, I think there was probably plenty of blame to go around in that marriage and for Elizabeth's sad life. Ernest "adored his daughter" and was apparently a good father who lavished attention and affection on her. He even spoiled her.

  According to Sullivan, he built a small playhouse in a garden for Elizabeth and adults were allowed nowhere near it until the little girl was willing to come out. Tutors and nannies paced impatiently nearby because they weren't allowed to order her to come out and learn her lessons.

  But, at the same time, it sounds as though Ernest was gay and was pressured by Queen Victoria into a marriage he really didn't want. He was attracted to his artist friends, the good-looking boys on his estate, and not to his wife. He was cursed by his time and his place and his family. It wasn't his fault. It also wasn't Victoria Melita's fault. She was 17 when she was pressured to marry Ernest, had never been told anything about sex, and was completely unprepared for a marriage of that sort. The marriage was intolerable for both of them. I fault Ernest for not trying to foster a better relationship between mother and daughter and for not notifying Victoria Melita when the girl was on her deathbed.

Offline bookworm8571

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2004, 01:34:26 PM »
I'll add, for anyone interested in reading Sullivan's "A Fatal Passion," that I found it to be a fairly unsatisfying book. It's written in a melodramatic fashion. Every prince or princess is "beautiful" or "dashing" or some other superlative.

He makes some glaringly obvious mistakes. At one point he refers to the "hemophiliac Prince Leopold of Albany" as the heir to Coburg after the death of Victoria Melita's brother Alfred. Obviously, Leopold's son Charles Edward (Carl Eduard) did not suffer from hemophilia and was never called Leopold.  Sullivan also got the age of Grand Duke Kyril's mother Marie Pavlovna wrong.

At the same time, reading between the lines and looking at the facts he tried to disguise behind his flowery language, it was clear that both Victoria Melita and Ernest got a very raw deal. Victoria Melita was depressed and took refuge in fashion, frequent visits to her sisters, and rebelliously refused to do her duty. She'd much rather ride horseback, talk to the most amusing person at the dinner table instead of the most important, and blew off charity work in favor of doing what she damn well pleased. She obviously wasn't a very good grand duchess and probably wasn't the most devoted mother either at times, but it's hard not to be sympathetic to a teenage girl who's been married off to a man who can't stand to touch her.  

From the known facts, it's also clear that she WANTED her little girl with her and fought to have her for six months of the year. If she didn't want Elizabeth, it would have been simple enough for her to leave her in Darmstadt and never see her again.  That's what a lot of other women in similar circumstances did. She made the effort to regain Elizabeth's trust during the visitation periods she did have with her.

In his memoirs, Ernie himself acknowledges that he didn't correct Elizabeth when she told him "Mama says she loves me, but you DO love me." Like a lot of divorced daddies who want their kids to themselves, I can't help thinking that he probably didn't paint a positive picture of Victoria Melita for Elizabeth.

As to whether Elizabeth was an inconvenience -- I'm sure that wouldn't have been how either of her parents referred to her. I think they both loved her very much. Nonethless, her death certainly made it easier for her mother and father to remarry and have other families without a stepchild there as a reminder of the past.

Joanna Mayer

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2004, 02:52:35 PM »
Thank you for the clarification. It's realy rather sad, here we all are discussing the tragic lives of dead royalty. Ah well... at least we can get some comfort from the fact that all the world suffers from the same heartache.

Offline bookworm8571

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Re: Elizabeth (daughter of Ernie)
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2004, 03:11:11 PM »
Yes, it is incredibly sad and morbid, I suppose, to be gossiping about people who are long dead. But, since they played a role in history, they're interesting because of that.

I think the untold stories about their private lives add some dimension and restore their humanity in some ways. Would we rather idealize "dear Ernie" and "dear Elizabeth" or look at them as human beings with flaws and virtues who experienced things that tore their hearts out just like the rest of us?



« Last Edit: November 17, 2010, 09:42:15 AM by Svetabel »