Author Topic: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita  (Read 231686 times)

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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #315 on: March 07, 2012, 02:35:14 PM »
Don't think they can stand hand in hand for that long. Ducky's look has an element of slight surprise in em.  ;)

Offline perdita

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #316 on: June 25, 2012, 10:57:44 PM »

How did VM behave at Elisabeth's funeral?

I meant to drop 2 sentences about this but now I see it's better to post the letters of GD Sergei to Nicholas II and Elizaveta Fedorovna to GDss Xenia A.
I'll translate and post them.

Here are my translations of the letters (extracts)- about VM at the funeral.

Letter of GD Sergei to Emperor Nicholas - November 6th,Darmstadt

Dear Nicky

I’d like to write quick words about  everything what was going on here. At the station in Frankfurt I came along with Ducky – she was together with Marie, Missy and baby Bee; when I was taking her to her carriage she asked if Ernie wished to see her or it would be displeasing too much for him. Her mood was very touching , their meeting was simple and natural. Ducky wished to see her daughter, and the coffin was uncovered. She was left alone with Ernie and asked him in detail about the illness and last minutes of the daughter…It was so very touching when after the end of the service – Ducky kneeled and put her head on the daughter’s coffin, and when she rose we saw that she had taken off her Hessian order and set it on the coffin: a sign that her connection with the country is cut off! She did that simply and naturally…


Letter of GDss Elizaveta F. to GDss Xenia Alexandrovna, November 9th,Darmstadt

Dear Xenia

…All this is so sad, so sad – I have no words…The meeting with Ducky was going on well. She looked like a shadow – poor, unhappy woman. Everything might be awful for her , and her recollections about her daughter are related with such remorse. The child would have been with her now but for her affair with Kyrill. Will he marry her?...He discredited her entirely in  everyone’s eyes, she is torn between and, alas! – they may thank themselves that they live now in a such situation. And all this drama has a basis – alas! – it’s a selfishness…
We all felt so sorry for her, we did everything to soothe a pain at the meeting. She was due to follow the coffin with her mother and sisters - ‘No,I want to go with someone of you’  - she followed with Victoria in the 1st carriage – Victoria was very oppressed with her grief…Ernie was as kind as an angel – he gave her a hand when she was getting out of a carriage and he was keeping her close by during all the service and funeral . He wanted that everyone saw in them a poor mother and father , not a divorced couple. Ony fancy what is that for him, but God helped him.



The source of letters is "Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas II. 1884-1909".



Pieces of a puzzle explained. Thank you for the translations.

The Romnaov/Hesse relationships are complicated. Rare first hand insights are always appreciated. Wish their diaries & letters could be published in English.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 11:01:05 PM by perdita »

Offline perdita

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #317 on: June 26, 2012, 01:34:46 AM »
You can never be sure one is totally gay or bisexual in those days.

Apparently, Ernie's own sisters (who adored him) did not deny the rumors surrounding him. Victoria of Battenberg even expressed sympathy for VM's plight during the divorce--although Ella and Alix clearly disapproved of VM's relationship with Kyril, as did many in the Romanov family.

But what is amazing is how many explicit details VM and Marie Alexandrovna (ditto all in sundry) knew about regarding Ernie's sex life. Just how indiscreet was that man? Did he do it on the carpet in the front entrence? Did he give all the details to VM in daily reports? Did he advertise?
VM and her mother vent as if they they were privy to every nook and cranny involving Ernie's sexual acts and predilections. The point is, even in modern times most people don't have a clue what their partners are up to sexually, much less the particulars of their antics.  

There is no evidence that VM & Marie Alexandrovna were liars, nor is there reason to doubt VM's first hand account of her intimate life with her own husband. Ernie's sexual proclivities DO appear to be out of the ordinary (& apparently insatible if VM & Company's are to be believed) but how did these proper Victorian ladies & their network of spies know the particulars about what was going on behind doors closed to them? Did they peep through windows, hire detectives, raid confessionals, beat it out of him--or was it rumor & conjecture on their part?
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 01:58:26 AM by perdita »

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #318 on: June 26, 2012, 04:57:29 AM »
To what "VM's first hand account of her intimate life with her own husband" do you refer?  My understanding is that the divorce of Victoria Melita and Ernst was on the grounds of 'invincible mutual antipathy' and that no suggestion that Ernst's sexuality had contributed to the unhappiness of the marriage was made until Ileana of Romania referred to it many decades later (and thus is a second hand account).  What evidence is there that "Ernie's own sisters" would have been aware of "rumours surrounding him", when it is not obvious that there were any rumours? 

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #319 on: June 26, 2012, 07:50:20 AM »
According to the letters Ducky wrote to Missy, it was more like Ducky was unable to make an emotional connection with Ernie. She was even kept from his bedside when he was sick. So I think the situation with "boys on the side" appeared to be the final nail of the coffin of that marriage. The fact that Ernie begged Ducky not to divorce and even offered to pay her comfortably if she continue has a ring of truth to it (that offer was revealed in Ducky's letter to her uncle, Grand Duke Serge).

Offline Helen

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #320 on: June 26, 2012, 08:03:51 AM »
To what "VM's first hand account of her intimate life with her own husband" do you refer?  My understanding is that the divorce of Victoria Melita and Ernst was on the grounds of 'invincible mutual antipathy' and that no suggestion that Ernst's sexuality had contributed to the unhappiness of the marriage was made until Ileana of Romania referred to it many decades later (and thus is a second hand account).  What evidence is there that "Ernie's own sisters" would have been aware of "rumours surrounding him", when it is not obvious that there were any rumours? 
John Wimbles wrote an interesting article about the marriage of Ernst Ludwig and Victoria Melita, published in Royalty Digest Quarterly , No. 7, 2007, which includes details relevant to your questions.

Apart from Wimbles' publication, there's a pre-1894 letter to Ernst Ludwig in which his sister Alix referred to EL's fear, for whatever reason,  that one gay friend would show up during his stay at Windsor, while another gay friend was there, too.  There's also evidence that Ernst Ludwig had a male lover before his marriage, who was appointed to the position of diensttuender Kammerherr to Victoria Melita from the first day of EL's & VM's marriage. Moreover, Ernst Ludwig had a gay friend stay as a guest at his home for many weeks in 1895, with whom he visited Italy/Capri later; and still later, Ernst Ludwig's name was mentioned in the context of Krupp's scandal on Capri.

Alix's letters to her brother show that she knew that Ernst Ludwig and Victoria Melita had 'problems in the bedroom' well before EL's and VM's divorce. These problems were also mentioned/discussed in letters between Prince Henry of Prussia and Kaiser Wilhelm II in the days when the divorce was arranged [Ref: Ernst Ludwig und Victoria Melita by Hein Holzhauer & Eckhart G. Franz in Archiv fur hessische Geschichte , 63(2005)].
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #321 on: June 26, 2012, 10:22:36 AM »
Quote
John Wimbles wrote an interesting article about the marriage of Ernst Ludwig and Victoria Melita, published in Royalty Digest Quarterly , No. 7, 2007, which includes details relevant to your questions.

Apart from Wimbles' publication, there's a pre-1894 letter to Ernst Ludwig in which his sister Alix referred to EL's fear, for whatever reason,  that one gay friend would show up during his stay at Windsor, while another gay friend was there, too.  There's also evidence that Ernst Ludwig had a male lover before his marriage, who was appointed to the position of diensttuender Kammerherr to Victoria Melita from the first day of EL's & VM's marriage. Moreover, Ernst Ludwig had a gay friend stay as a guest at his home for many weeks in 1895, with whom he visited Italy/Capri later; and still later, Ernst Ludwig's name was mentioned in the context of Krupp's scandal on Capri.

Alix's letters to her brother show that she knew that Ernst Ludwig and Victoria Melita had 'problems in the bedroom' well before EL's and VM's divorce. These problems were also mentioned/discussed in letters between Prince Henry of Prussia and Kaiser Wilhelm II in the days when the divorce was arranged [Ref: Ernst Ludwig und Victoria Melita by Hein Holzhauer & Eckhart G. Franz in Archiv fur hessische Geschichte , 63(2005)].

I agree that there is a reasonable amount of evidence that Ernst Ludwig was probably bisexual and the likelihood is that he had sexual relations with other men during his marriage to Victoria Melita.  I am just in doubt as to whether it was known by his sisters and actually condoned by them.  Wimbles’ article quotes Alix’s letter to Xenia in which she says, “whenever you hear nasty gossip, at once put a stop to it for their sakes and ours.  They parted as their characters could impossibly get on together, this is enough for the public....” as possibly implying some knowledge of Ernst Ludwig’s sexual misconduct but “nasty gossip” could refer to anything, or to either party.  As Victoria Melita, as the female in the partnership, was widely blamed for the divorce, the letter could equally demonstrate Alix’s sympathy with her position, much greater than has been assumed by many of her biographers, but not necessarily because she felt her brother was in any way blameworthy.  Given Alix’s general intolerance of sexual irregularity, I am dubious about how far she would overlook explicit evidence of homosexuality - which Marie of Romania categorised as a “horrible vice” (although not in relation to Ernst Ludwig).  Alix did not essentially overlook the evidence of Rasputin’s sexual misconduct – she simply refused to believe it.  So I do wonder whether she and her other sisters would have basically never allowed themselves to think about Ernst Ludwig in that way – and from the evidence, it doesn’t appear as if there were rumours about Ernst Ludwig generally at the time of the divorce, but rather, Victoria Melita got the blame.  Ernst Ludwig was of course publicly named as a homosexual in the Eulenburg affair of 1907 but was able to weather the storm since he was happily remarried by then with a son , and I imagine his sisters would view that as conclusive evidence against such allegations. 


Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #322 on: June 26, 2012, 10:23:21 AM »
Makes one wish all the more that Greg King had been able to go ahead with a biography on Ernest Ludwig. He is one of those prominent people in other's stories but so much actually written about him is conjecture. Being able to read some letters written to/from/about him would shed some needed light on his story.
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Offline perdita

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #323 on: June 26, 2012, 05:46:41 PM »
To what "VM's first hand account of her intimate life with her own husband" do you refer?  My understanding is that the divorce of Victoria Melita and Ernst was on the grounds of 'invincible mutual antipathy' and that no suggestion that Ernst's sexuality had contributed to the unhappiness of the marriage was made until Ileana of Romania referred to it many decades later (and thus is a second hand account).  What evidence is there that "Ernie's own sisters" would have been aware of "rumours surrounding him", when it is not obvious that there were any rumours?  

Marie Alexandrovna had LOTS to say about Ernie's sexual proclivities. Very outspoken, she certainly would have made known to her Russian/Hessian relations her daughter's unhappy marital situation particularily during the scandal period when VM was seeking a divorce and it was becoming clear to the family her attachment to Kyril.

Marie Alexandrovna fought for her daughter's (plural) reputations like a hawk and would have used all in her arsenal to arouse sympathy and understanding for her favorite VM at such a critical juncture and with so much at stake.

Marie Alexandrovna was all about "smoothing the way" for her children when it was a matter of salvaging their reputations (& dynastic futures) in the eyes of her imperial relations. A "deeply devout" monarchist, Marie even defended the indefensible--i.e., divorcee Ducky's remarriage to her first cousin Kyril in defiance of the Tsar and the laws of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Not surprisingly, "stickler" Marie Alexandrovna was a #1 witness at VM & Kyril's illegal wedding.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:59:14 PM by perdita »

Offline perdita

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #324 on: June 26, 2012, 05:51:00 PM »
Victoria of Battenberg was particularily sympathetic to VM at the time of her divorce from Ernie. None of the Hessian sisters "took sides" during that period.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:54:46 PM by perdita »

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #325 on: June 26, 2012, 11:22:39 PM »
I think Miechen accuses Alicky of turning the Tsar against  her son Cyril.

In Wimbles letter readings on the situation that led up to the divorce, it is certain that Ernie refuse to open up his emotions to Ducky, she wrote to Missy confessing that she cannot get through to him ( Ernie). It seems that Ducky needs a kind of emotional bond that Ernie was incapable to give. That made sense when Ernie remarried, his second wife did not seem to demand the same closeness that the sensitive Ducky required. That also made sense when Cyril did betrayed his fidelity, Ducky felt it so hard that she "began to die by inches". 

Offline perdita

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #326 on: June 27, 2012, 09:25:30 AM »
I think Miechen accuses Alicky of turning the Tsar against  her son Cyril.

In Wimbles letter readings on the situation that led up to the divorce, it is certain that Ernie refuse to open up his emotions to Ducky, she wrote to Missy confessing that she cannot get through to him ( Ernie). It seems that Ducky needs a kind of emotional bond that Ernie was incapable to give. That made sense when Ernie remarried, his second wife did not seem to demand the same closeness that the sensitive Ducky required. That also made sense when Cyril did betrayed his fidelity, Ducky felt it so hard that she "began to die by inches".  

In her letters to VM, Marie Alexandrovna mocked Ernie's lack of interest in having sex with his wife & made clear he was not "a real man".

Whatever the reasons VM expediently gave to justify a divorce from Ernie ("couldn't get through to him", etc ) it was she who wanted the divorce, not her husband.

The dirty little secret was VM was in love with another first cousin--Kyril.

So why would the high handed & proud Marie Alexandrovna stand idly by and allow VM to take the fall without a credible explanation to justify a divorce to her royal relations? That Ernie wasn't a soulmate to VM would hardly cut it in royal eyes.

Granted, sexual attitudes can have no rhyme or reason--and VM was by nature a dogmatist. But the question remains, if Ernie's sexual infidelity didn't destroy their marriage in VM's eyes, why did it destroy VM's marriage to the unfaithful Kyril had she otherwise had a close relationship with him--i.e., been able "to get through to him"?

While it is reasonable to put adultery in the betrayal catagory (i.e., a marriage based on lies, vows broken, trust destroyed, risking STDs & illegitimate births, etc)--it's difficult to understand why VM was so unforgiving in Kyril's case, but didn't think infidelity particularily relevant as a basis for wanting a divorce from Ernie.

It's also hard to understand why VM was so militantly unforgiving towards Kyril's infidelty, when her own sisters (Queen Victoria's granddaughters, no less) had for decades been committing adultery right and left.  

Infidelity was no stranger to VM.

So why an infidelty pass for Ernie & her beloved sisters--but absolutely none permitted to Kyril?

Was not VM the Edinburgh sister who consistenly demanded "fairness"?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 09:42:16 AM by perdita »

Offline Vecchiolarry

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #327 on: June 27, 2012, 09:45:42 AM »
Hi Perdita,

My theory - unsubstanciated but just my opinion - is that Victoria Melita loved Cyril;  but didn't necessarily love Ernest...
She was ballyhooed into marrying Ernie by Queen Victoria, and possibly her own mother (as a great dynastic union);  so she meekly went along and not really caring what Enie was up to.
She did, however, care deeply what Cyril was up to;  and took it all too personally...

What do you think?

Larry

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #328 on: June 27, 2012, 10:08:40 AM »
It is where the infidelity lies. This is the interesting part. When Ernie was thinking of proposing to Ducky, ne must be mindful of his inability to be faithful to a woman. QV played a strong part in egging him to propose to his cousin. Marie Coburg never liked what QV liked and even went further to warn Ernie not to drag Ducky to kowtow to "Grandmama Queen " in Windsor. She had successfully thawed the plan to marry Missy to George of Wales. So one understands why Marie supported Ducky in her divorce and remarriage.

Both Ernie & Kyril were fundamentally weak men, but there is difference between them. Ernie was a sensitive soul that was traumatized by the deaths in the family (Frittie, May & Alice). Her only close confidant was Ella, who like him was sensitive and respond to his emotional needs as Alicky, VMH or Irene could do. This VMH understood the bonds between her brother & sister. Errnie could not share part of his soul that Ducky wished to connect. In place of his real self, the equally sensitive Ducky saw only a facade (nice, jovial but nothing deep). It tore Ducky apart when she tried to be in his inner part, which he rejected. Kyril on the the hand was always dominated by a strong woman (Miechen) who told him what to do. This was of course another reason why Miechen could never be friends with Ducky, she wouldn't left go like Minnie did with Nicky. So when Kyril came along, he did not resist emotionally to Ducky and they fell in love (she was never truly in love with Ernie anyway). In later years, people who met the couple commented that Ducky was the more dynamic of the two. She even threaten Grand Duke Dmitri to his face when she found out he harbor some hopes of the throne himself. So to her, their union have purpose, and it energized Ducky. So when Kyril betrayal was revealed to her (most writers hinted the other party was probably a man) , it brought back all the nightmare of Ernie and his homosexuality that Ducky thought she left behind. It was a cruel joke on Ducky and it made a mockery of their vows and union. She began to will herself to die. Missy wrote about her sister "She was the most unforgiving of us all." That was true and she never did forgave Kyril for that.

Offline perdita

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Re: Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig & Grand Duchess Victoria Melita
« Reply #329 on: July 04, 2012, 12:18:35 PM »
It is where the infidelity lies. This is the interesting part. When Ernie was thinking of proposing to Ducky, ne must be mindful of his inability to be faithful to a woman.

Predictably, it's rarely the principle, but rather who's ox is being gored. True, VM wasn't "in love" with Ernie or her sisters, but there still exists a fairness or double standard disparity there. After 30 plus years of "understanding" between VM &  Kyril & with their futures inexorably tied to one another VM took a militantly unforgiving (lethal) stance against her husband when she had given a pass to Ernie, her sisters & many other friends & relations. To repeat, infidelity was no stranger to VM. Of course, after so many disappointments in VM's life Kyril's betrayal might have been the last straw but even so throwing in the towel was a strech with so much at stake.

The point is, VM was purportedly "highly principled" and this controversy bring into question her sincerity & motives--not to mention, the machinations she deployed during the years she was attempting to negotiate a separation from Ernie that would be credible in the eyes of her relations. i.e., Her public relations campaign to persuade her royal relatives that it was the lack of "understanding" between herself and Ernie that was the key problem--NOT that she had a long standing aversion to her husband & had fallen in love with Kyril. Under those suspect circumstances VM sought to persuade her relatives that she was willing to "try again" with Ernie even going so far as to have another child (miscarried) by him when she might have calulated that her house of cards would inevitably collapse.

Unfortunately, there is scant known about Kyril's infidelty, his point of view on that subject, or the circumstances surrounding his extra marital relationships. The only perspective known is VM's implacable reaction to Kyril. Posters can only conjecture.

Who's ox is being gored is right. Interestingly, Marie Alexandrovich was a stickler on all things Russian monarchy & Greek Orthodox but did not hesitate to precide over VM's illegal marriage to her first cousin in direct defiance of the edict of the Russian emperor.

It's hardly surprising that Marie Alexandrovich had no-end difficulties with her daughters. This favorite child of Alexander 11 set herself up for one domestic calamity after another. On one hand, Marie preached implacable morality and duty, on the other, she spent her life indoctrinating her daughters to have contempt for men while arranging for them a constant round of "amusements"--balls, dances, theatricals, skating parties, pony rides, bicycling, with handsome grand Dukes, officers, even actors in attendance whilst traveling from one glamorous royal court to another, etc. Talk about living vicariously. When Marie's daughter's did fall from grace (SURPRISE!) their Mama made her displeasure known only to make clear she would defend their reputations & make execuses in their defense to the hilt. Ditto she deployed whatever it took to get that job done.

While Marie Alexandrovna never gave her husband, son, or men in general AN INCH, she did not hesitate to make excuses again and again for her daughters after orchestrating for them marriages virtually doomed to failure. The upshot is Marie Alexandovna's daughters grasped early on that their irregular behaviors would skate. The Duchess of Coburg would only break with her daughter "Missy" when the later sided with the allies during World War One.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 12:42:40 PM by perdita »