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Messages - grandduchessella

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Here is an extract from a letter QV wrote to Victoria Hesse regarding Alexandra Kolemine or that "dreadful woman" as QV calls her.  ;)

Subject:  Queen Victoria to Victoria of Hesse, 11 October 1884 Balmoral Castle

Darling Victoria,
For 3 or 4 days I have been intending to write to you to thank you for your dear letter... Dear Papa is well-- & we are so happy to have him with us-- as we love him so much-- but he is often very sad & very depressed & I fear all these appeals of that dreadful woman worry & distress him *terribly.* If only an end cld. be put to it & if this dreadful woman cld. be seen by *him* in the *true light* & he never see her or hear from her! But she has written to him again only just now-- wanting to have the whole urtheil veröffentlicht [verdict published]. He sent the letter to Lothersen & did not answer it. He is so worried & distressed that he *ought* to, & *must get away.* Uncle  Bertie is very strong abt. it, so are some of his people & all of us. He will never be able to break with the *whole* thing & with her-- unless he gets quite away-- & the opportunity to visit Uncle Arthur who leaves in April-- may never present itself again. His remaining at Darmstadt or in the neighbourhood wld. keep up the whole thing & annoy him dreadfully. *Believe* me it is *the only* thing to cheer him up & set him again. He shld. go to India
after Christmas & be back the middle or end of March. I assure you it is the *only* thing for him to do. I must end my letter...
Ever your devoted Grandmama

Queen Victoria had pressured him into divorcing her, but the lady was understandably less than happy about that. She continued writing to the Grand Duke, eventually resorted to blackmail, and was finally bought off with a title and an annual pension. She remarried. The Grand Duke never did.

All the Hesse children seem to have been close not only to Victoria but also to various aunts & uncles. Ernst wrote of his Aunt Louise that she was one of the most beautiful creatures he'd ever seen, even into old age. Victoria lived with some of her older aunts in the Aunt Heap at Kensington Palace after she was widowed, I believe. Ella wrote lovely letters to her dear Grandmama, though not as many as Victoria. Leopold visited a great deal and was a great favorite (see Charlotte Zeepvat's bio of him) and his death cast a bit of a pall over Victoria's wedding. All the children were devastated. Beatrice spent a lot of time with them (Victoria even toying with trying to change British law to perhaps allow Beatrice to marry her widowed brother-in-law) and of course achieved a closer relation with Victoria as sister-in-law. The Edinburgh's were very fond of Louis Battenberg as her served with Alfred, but I don't know how the Hessians saw them, especially when Ernest & Victoria Melita's marriage began to fail. While Vicky was very close to Alix and Irene would marry her son Henry, she could often be quite tart when referring to some of them, especially when Ella spurned William's advances. They did visit Berlin a good deal though before Alice's death. I can't really think of anything with Helena or Arthur.

The Hohenzollern / Re: Victoria Louise, Duchess of Brunswick
« on: May 14, 2004, 11:27:04 PM »
She was at the center of what I think is one of the more romantic of royal tales. The deposed King of Hannover had passed his hatred of the Prussian/Hohenzollerns on to his son and other children (plus his daughter-in-law Thyra had her own reasons to despise them). As their eldest son, George Wilhelm was returning from the funeral of his uncle, King Frederick of Denmark, he was involved in a fatal car accident.  The Kaiser, Wilhelm II sent an honor guard to accompany the young prince's body. This led to Ernst, Duke of Cumberland (and de-facto King of Hannover) to send his only surviving son, Ernst August to repay the courtesy. Upon his arrival, he and the young Princess fell in love. Despite the Romeo/Juliet aspects, the 2 were allowed to marry and the Kaiser granted EA the title of Duke of Brunswick and returned some of the confiscated land. The love the 2 shared seemed to never wane and photos can be seen of them in old age beaming and holding hands. VL did write her memoirs as well as books on her parents (I don't know if the latter are in English or not). Her governess, Anne Topham also wrote a series on her time in Berlin. She basically summed up young VL as headstrong and spoiled but of a basic sweet nature and capable of great kindness. VL always reminded me of a story of Eunice Kennedy Shriver where old Joe Kennedy once remarked that basically she had more brains and acumen than her brothers "too bad she wasn't a boy" thus denying outright any meaningful political role because of her gender. VL always seemed to have more intelligence, level-headedness and drive than her brothers--certainly the Crown Prince!

Well, I guess I've been put in my place.  ;)  I realize it's a touchy subject for a lot of people, especially as she has many fans (and as I said I am one of them). I had just gotten to thinking about things and wanted to get feedback from others on the subject. I love the intensity people have on this board without getting nasty (unlike some boards). I definitely believe she gave Nicholas the best thing a wife can--love. It's just, as I said, so much potential and yet such a bad ending. I believe all her attributes (good and bad) would've been fine if he'd been a younger son or a cousin rather than Tsar (or even an English country gentleman as I think Nicholas expressed once)  but were disastrous in her position. Fate works the way it does though. As people have pointed out, if you put all the "if this, if that's" together you'd go crazy. Too bad the elder Vladimir's weren't the Imperial couple and N&A and their children could've lived a comfortable, stress-free life at one of the estates without all the responsibilities and most of the joys.

I was flipping through some of the Romanov coffee table books I have and a thought occured to me (certainly not an original one, I'm sure).  While MUCH has been written of the genuine, long-lasting, passionate love of Nicholas & Alexandra, their beautiful children and whether or not Alexandra's dislike of her role as Empress and her reliance on Rasputin, etc...contributed to the downfall of the monarchy, I began to think of another thread. Could she have actually (for all their love) have been a bad wife to Nicholas. There were SO many photos of Nicholas with his various family members (Russian, English, Danish, Greek) where he is so happy and relaxed and had such close relationships. While no doubt with his relatively early ascension to the throne his uncle's would've tried to bully him as they did, would family relations have deteriorated so disastrously without Alexandra? She seems to have over the years gradually "weaned" Nicholas from any family contact except their own private circle. She began close to some (ie Xenia) but gradually withdrew, she had her sister there for support and there were certainly many Romanovs she could've brought into her circle (maybe like Mavra?) while forcing Miechen to the sidelines. Visits to Denmark began to peter out (even before the 2nd Queen Louise of Denmark begun to discourage them) and she looks miserable in them. I find this so surprising considering a)she came from a large family mob and b) many of Nicholas's relatives were also her own. She even began to distance herself from her own siblings to an extent. I was surprised upon review to see how few photos after about 1900 there were with family members--they're almost all of the immediate family. Even as early as 1896 Queen Victoria began to notice an unattractive standoffishness in Alexandra during her visit to England. And she made such a bad Empress (and I say this, believe it or not, as a fan of hers)! I know people will say she was shy, etc...but having just read a bio of Queen Mary, I was struck by their similarities in character (and in both having an overbearing, bossy, mother-in-law), yet Mary rose spectacularly to the occasion. Granted England was much more stable than Russia and Mary had more time, but why couldn't Alexandra have done the same? She certainly had a husband who was 100% devoted and doting but she seemed to use this almost against him to nurture the worst in her nature rather than the best. I was also reading some of Minny's letters to Nicholas where she seems excited at the idea of welcoming a daughter-in-law. Yet, instead of reaching out to Minny in her immediate bereavement and understanding the difficulties in suddenly switching from Empress to Dowager, Alexandra seemed to feed her own insecurities of her position and things immediately got off to a bad start. Just think of the success she could've been if the warmth, etc she showed to a select few she could've shown to more and perhaps had tried to take some of Minny's advice rather than regarding her as interferring. I think this all shows a spectacular selfishness on her part that helped lead to disaster for them all. Just my own observations and I would love to hear ALL opinions people have on this. As I said, I am a fan of Alexandra's and maybe that's why this is making me feel so sour--I really think with her beauty and happy family life, if she'd gone about things differently, she had such potential to be such a successful and popular Empress.

I just thought they were some interesting perspectives on the divorce and, in the case of MF, of someone not directly involved. We've rarely heard of E's feelings on the matter, while much has been said of VM's. That's all.

I read about Aline either in Inheritors of Alexander the Great by J. Nicholas Tantzos or Romanov Autumn--I can't remember right now but I think it was the former.

Found some interesting quotes (one from Ernie the other from Dowager Empress Marie):

Subject:  Grand Duke of Hesse, 10 November 1901
Now that I am calmer I see the absolute impossibility of going on leading a life which was killing her & driving me nearly mad. For to keep up your spirits & a laughing face while ruin is staring you in the eyes & misery is tearing your heart to pieces is a struggle which is fruitless. I only tried for her sake. If I had not loved her so, I would have given it up long ago... My last years have been a living hell to me... You have been a sister to me like there are few—God bless you for all your love.

Subject:  Maria Fyodorovna to Nicholas II, 5 November 1901
Copenhagen, 5th November, 1901.
My dear darling Nicky,
Thank you with all my heart for your dear letter from Skernevitse, which, as always, I was so glad to receive although its contents were so terribly sad. All you told me about Erni and Ducky has been *such a shock* to me that I could not *sleep* the whole night. It is simply awful: how dreadful to think of their future and that of the poor little child! I am also *extremely* sorry for poor Alix, knowing well how dear Erni is to her and how sad and painful in every respect all this must be to her. Yesterday I too had a letter from Aunt Marie, who is in despair, of course, but says that they have misunderstood each other for a long time and divorce was the only solution. But I myself entirely agree with you when you say that even the loss of a dear person is better than the general disgrace of a divorce!

From what i know of her (and info is very scarce as her life was so short):

She was apparently her father's favorite and her was devastated by her death.

She took after her mother Queen Olga in looks (round face, soft expression, large eyes, fair hair).

She fell in love with Paul (and vice versa) during his many visits to visit the "Greek cousins"

She became great friends with Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Ella) and the 2 couples often "hung out" together. It was at Ella's summer house Illinskoye (forgive bad spelling) that Alexandra fell ill.

Her nickname was Aline.

Rumors abounded in St Petersburg that due to Ella's supposedly unhappy marriage and Paul's early infatuation with her, that Alexandra & Ella's friendship was a sham and Alexandra was a 'beard' basically for Ella & Paul's affair. People referred to her as "that poor unhappy Greek princess" with people basically snickering behind her back. (Note: I personally think this is bull and just part of the nasty gossip surrounding Ella & Serge's relationship and the general nastiness in court in general).

Upon her marriage, the Tsar gave her a pearl necklace set worth about $15 million in today's money. Wonder where that is now?

That's all I can think of for now. I do have some photos but don't know how to upload.  :(

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra and her Health
« on: May 02, 2004, 04:31:49 PM »
In addition to condoms, if the other pregnancies were planned and carefully timed, it sounds as though they may have practiced the old tried-and-sometimes-true rhythm method. It's much more accurate now with various ovulation tests and such but I know a lot of people of older generations used this (it's how my Mom was conceived--planned). Also, I don't know how the Orthodox church differs from the Catholic Church on these teachings but as devout as they were this may also have been a preferred method.

I think there is a group picture in the most recent biography of Alexandra that showed her with her siblings, including May. From that photo, I'd say May would have grown up to look like her sister Irene. Her facial features were similar to Irene's, while Alix more closely resembled Ella.

Came across this:
Princess Alice to Queen Victoria, 27 January 1875
January 27.

. . . My little May has such a cold, which lessens her
usual smiles. She is a fine strong child, more like
what Victoria was, but marked eyebrows, with the fair
hair and such speaking eyes. She and Aliky are a
pretty contrast!

News Links / Re: New Erotic Museum Featuring Rasputin
« on: April 30, 2004, 11:53:03 PM »
Thank you, Janet. I feel much better now. I so rarely have good firsthand news of anything and really thought I had a lead there.  :) I checked out the link that Penny's thread had and you're right "little tidbit" probably wasn't quite appropriate.  ;)

I came across this little bit of information:

Ella to Queen Victoria, 3 August 1894
(writing from Ilinskoe)
"About the wedding nothing seems to be
settled. Ducky will I suppose not be able to come and
that deranges all plans. I am so very glad she is
expecting a Baby if only it could be a Boy the idea of
our branch of the Hessian family dying out made me so


I thought it was interesting to read about Ducky's pregnancy (I'm presuming this is with Elizabeth but haven't done the exact date checking) but also bittersweet knowing how young Elizabeth would live to be but also the last line about "their" branch of the family dying out. Little could she have known.... :(

News Links / Re: New Erotic Museum Featuring Rasputin
« on: April 30, 2004, 11:51:45 AM »
If only I was! You can check out Penny's topic relating to my little tidbit. She found an article about it apparently.  It's quite a popular thread--more than mine, darn it! I thought I had the scoop.  :(

News Links / New Erotic Museum Featuring Rasputin
« on: April 30, 2004, 12:26:01 AM »
I was just listening to Keith Olbertman's Countdown on MSNBC and in his "oddball" segment he said that Russia is getting its first museum of erotic and one of the main displays will be dedicated to Rasputin. He even referenced that a certain,  :-[ ahem, appendage of Rasputin's was preserved and pickled and will be on display! :o

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