Dukedom of Prussia

Princess Charlotte of Prussia

Princess Charlotte of Prussia (Viktoria Elisabeth Auguste Charlotte), Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen (24 July1860 Potsdam, Germany-1 October1919 Baden-Baden, Germany) was the second child born to Prince Friedrich of Prussia and Princess Victoria. Through her mother, Charlotte was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

At an early age Charlotte displayed a nervous and agitated personality, frequently biting her nails and tearing at her clothes. Queen Victoria once wrote to her daughter, “tell Charlotte I was appalled to hear of her biting her things. Grandmamma does not like naughty girls”. Charlotte was punished for this by having her pockets sewn up or being made to stand with her hands tied behind her back in the corner, these measures did little good as she soon went back to her old ways. This, in addition to her indifference to her studies, saddened her mother. She was well loved by her paternal grandparents King Wilhelm I and Queen Augusta, and she grew close to her older brother Wilhelm II.

In 1876, Charlotte became engaged to her second cousin Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Meiningen, and they were married in Berlin on 18 February 1878. The couple had one daughter, Feodora, who was born on 12 May1879. Following Feodora's birth, Charlotte retreated from family life in favor of the society life in Berlin. Feodora fell under the care of nannies and other servants when not visiting her grandmother in Berlin or at her country estate, Friedrichshof. Charlotte subscribed to the conservative political views of her elder brother and Chancellor Bismarck, leading to further discord with her mother, who favored liberal policy.

In 1914, Prince Bernhard inherited his father's dukedom to become Duke Bernhard III of Saxe-Meiningen. Although now elevated to the rank of duchess, her tenure was to be short, as Bernhard abdicated at the end of World War I. By this time, Charlotte, long plagued by ill health, was dying, finally succumbing to her illnesses on 1 October 1919 at age fifty-nine.

Recent medical tests performed on her remains and those of her daughter Feodora, who committed suicide in 1945 after a lifetime of ill-health, have revealed that both probably suffered from porphyria, a genetic disorder that is thought to have affected Charlotte's great-great-grandfather George III of the United Kingdom.

Literature

  • Massie, Robert and Jeffrey Finestone. The Last Courts of Europe.
  • Packard, Jerrold M. Victoria's Daughters.
  • Van der Kiste, John. Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Ancestry

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