Monday, March 23, 2015

The Hesse Sisters

Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by the Rhine, adored his four sisters Victoria, Elizabeth, Irene and Alix. They were known in royal circles as "The Four Graces" because they were famous for their beauty. The sisters were of different personalities and temperaments but they all share a deep love and bond with each other. Here is an excerpt from Ernst Ludwig's memoirs and his descriptions about them:

The Hessian princesses: Victoria, Elisabeth (Ella), Irene, and Alix.
"Victoria...was often misunderstood. She easily reacts with sharpness, which made her give scathing answers. Ella was one of the most beautiful women, because her figure was perfect in everything . She had a warm voice; had a special fondness for painting and drawing. Yet she delighted in dressing up, but not out of vanity, but out of joy to create beauty. With a great sense of humor, she could comically tell about the things that happened to her. Irene, from our father in particular, has inherited the absolute goodness of his heart, from our grandmother - her shyness. As child, she was the one who settles disputes between sisters; she was constantly worried that we should do the right thing... Being a sanguine person, she often did not exercise measures, so we called her 'Aunt Fuss'. She rode superbly and, like me, was addicted to dancing. We often sing a melody while dancing in pairs in an empty room... Alicky was already a beautiful child with a serious face. Humor was not in her. Like all my sisters, she had a generous heart and a limitless sense of duty. After the death of May, she became the youngest and felt hurt that she refused to say anything. She was a good companion to our father and did everything possible to cheer his spirit. Since she was easily embarrassed...and laughed only when she was in the mood, it was often thought that she was gloomy, bored or unhappy..."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife

Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife, 1901
(From the Royal Collection)

The eldest daughter of Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his Danish born wife, Alexandra, Princess Louise was born on February 20, 1867 in Marlborough House, the London home of her parents. She spent much of her childhood in Sandringham House, her parents' country retreat in Norfolk, and lived a rather sheltered life with her sisters. The Princess of Wales was a possessive mother who would rather let her daughters remained unmarried than marry them off to German princes, and as a result, Louise and her sisters Victoria and Maud, collectively known to their relatives as the "Wales girls" grew up to be intensely shy and reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Royal Portrait: The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna

(Portrait from the Royal Collection)
The newly-married Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna wrote to her grandmother, Queen Victoria on June 13, 1884, about her portrait by Russian painter Alexander Sokolov.

"He began to do my portrait, and I think he will be very successful. Sergei and I hope that you will enjoy it, and we'll send it to you as a present for Christmas and birthday. You may be interested to know what I wear - a dress of pale pink gauze, a lot of lace, a little open - so you can see the neck and the sleeves are not very long. I hold an open umbrella on one hand and on the other - a large white straw hat with flowers, tied with a pink ribbon. It looks as if I was walking in the garden... " 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

First Anniversary of the Death of Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaievna

Grand Duchesses Olga and Alexandra Nikolaievna by Christina Robertson (Hermitage Museum)
In the excerpt below, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaievna, Queen of Wurttemberg, remembers the first death anniversary of her beloved sister, Alexandra. The 19-year-old Grand Duchess Alexandra, who was suffering from consumption, died after prematurely giving birth to her son. The baby died as well soon afterwards, and this tragedy profoundly affected the imperial family.
"By the day of the death of Adini, Fritz of Hesse came. We went with him to Tsarskoye Selo, where in a small chapel at the pond was placed a statue of Adini. In the pavilion, which was built for her, waiting to be fed, are black swans. But at the top of the palace there was no longer a balcony in front of her bathroom and the lilac under her windows with their flowering branches reach the window. In the palace chapel a requiem was held. All these memories of last year came bursting in my heart: she was lying with her baby in a sea of colors and it seemed to me that with my beloved sister, I also buried my youth. Then we went to the Fortress [of Peter and Paul] and on that same night we went back to Yelagin [Palace]. When I think about my last summer in my homeland, I am seized with an inexpressible longing for all those who have gone before me to another life.
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