Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange

Princess Mary, Princess Royal, Princess of Orange and Countess of Nassau (4 November 163124 December 1660) was the eldest daughter of King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland and his queen, Henrietta Maria. She was the wife of William II, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau (27 May 16266 November 1650) and the mother of King William III of England and Ireland, II of Scotland (14 November 16508 May 1702). Mary Stuart or Mary of Orange, as she was also known, was the first daughter of a British Sovereign to hold the title Princess Royal.

Early life

Mary Henrietta Stuart was born at St. James's Palace, London. Charles I designated her Princess Royal in 1642, thus establishing the tradition that the eldest daughter of the British Sovereign might bear this title. The title came into being when Queen Henrietta Maria, the daughter of King Henri IV of France wished to imitate the way the eldest daughter of the French king was styled (Madame Royale). Until that time, the eldest daughters of English and Scottish kings were variously titled Lady or Princess (The younger daughters of British Sovereigns were not consistently titled princesses of Great Britain and styled Royal Highness until the ascension of George I in 1714).


Her father wished the Princess Royal to marry a son of Philip IV, king of Spain, while her first cousin, Karl Ludwig, the Elector Palatine, was also a suitor for her hand. Both proposals fell through and she was betrothed to Willem, the son and heir of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of the United Provinces, and of Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. The marriage took place on 2 May 1641 at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall Palace, London, but was not consummated for several years due to the bride's young age. However, in 1642, Mary crossed over to the Dutch Republic with her mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, and in 1644, as the daughter-in-law of the stadtholder, she began to take her place in public life.

Later life

In March 1647, her husband, William II, succeeded his father as stadholder. However, in November 1650, just after his attempt to capture Amsterdam from his political opponents, he died of smallpox. The couple's only child, Willem (later William III), was born a few days later. The Dowager Princess of Orange was obliged to share the guardianship of her infant son, with his grandmother Amalia, the widow of Frederick Henry, and with Frederick William, the elector of Brandenburg. She was unpopular with the Dutch due to her sympathies with her family, the Stuarts; and at length, public opinion having been further angered by the hospitality that she showed to her brothers, the exiled Charles II and the Duke of York (later James II), she was forbidden to receive her relatives. From 1654 to 1657, the princess passed most of her time away from Holland. In 1657 she became regent on behalf of her son for the principality of Orange, but the difficulties of her position led her to implore the assistance of Louis XIV of France; the French king answered by seizing Orange himself.

The restoration of Charles II in England and Scotland greatly enhanced the position of the Dowager Princess of Orange and her son in Holland. In September 1660, she returned to England. She died of smallpox at Whitehall Palace, London and was buried in Westminster Abbey.


Mary, Princess Royal's ancestors in three generations
Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange Father:
Charles I of England
Paternal Grandfather:
James I of England
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Mary I of Scotland
Paternal Grandmother:
Anne of Denmark
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Frederick II of Denmark
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Sofie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Henrietta Maria of France
Maternal Grandfather:
Henry IV of France
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Antoine de Bourbon
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Jeanne III of Navarre
Maternal Grandmother:
Marie de' Medici
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Francesco I de' Medici
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Johanna of Austria

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