Thanks for this information! It must have been a very awkward situation for the whole family.
In my prowling through the Times archives, I was looking up Victoria of Hesse's wedding for references not only to her, but to Ella's upcoming wedding and came across this--dated Darmstadt May 4 (a little slow off the mark!)
The Times, Monday, May 05, 1884; pg. 11; Issue 31125; col F
The rumor, which has bee propogated even in so serious and respectable a journal as the Berlin Post, that the Grand Duke intends shortly to enter into a morganatic marriage is a pure invention.
The Times, Wednesday, May 07, 1884; pg. 7; Issue 31127; col A
Latest Intelligence. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTS.).
Berlin May 6 THE GRAND DUKE OF HESSE
Within the last few days a detailed and positive statement has been making the round of the German Press, which I first disregardded as incredible, but which has now received an appearance at least of truth, through its reproduction in the semi-official North German Gazette--a journal which generally seeks to verify before quoting the assertations of its contemporaries. The statement is to the effect that on the evening of the wedding of his daughter, Princess Victoria, to Prince Louis of Battenberg, the Grand Duke of Hesse privately contracted a morgantic marriage with a lady named Madame von Kolemine, the daughter of Count Adam von Hutten Czapski, a Russian courtier. Madame von Kolemine, is is added, lately procured a divorce from her husband, to whom she was married in 1873, and who for some time represented Russia at the Court of Darmstadt; and she was otherwise well known in diplomatic circles at Bern and Stockholm, where her husband had also resided. Her father died last year at Nice, and her previous husband is now posted at Carlsruhe, not far from Darmstadt. The Grand Duke's marriage with Madame von Kolemine took, it is said, the form only of the civil contract, which was privately entered into by the parties in the presence of Freiherr von Starck, Minister of State. Such is the story which is going the round of the German Press, but which, despite its positive form, is well calculated to cause skepticism. A friend in Darmstadt telegraphs to me on the subject as follows:--' The statement in the newspapers as to the morgantic marriage of the Grand Duke has created universal surprise here, and in Court circles everyone affects to know nothing whatsoever about it. An official denial is expected, but if this be not issued there will be no room for doubting the truth of the story."
The Times, Friday, May 09, 1884; pg. 5; Issue 31129; col A (from our correspondents)
Berlin May 8
I am now in a position to confirm the statement that is making the rounds of the Press here, and which I conveyed to you the other evening under all reserve, and with an expression of doubt--namely that the Grand Duke of Hesse had, on the eve of his eldest daughter's wedding, contracted a "left-handed" marriage with a lady named Madame von Kolemine. Despite it's apparent improbability, the story is quite true.
[interesting that by this point the Grand Duke was safely in England with his mother-in-law]