King Ludwig II of Bavaria was briefly engaged. He was handsome and young, the Bavarians idolized him. He fell in love with his cousin, Duchess Sophie, or at least he claimed to have. However, over the course of their engagement, poor Sophie found her fiancé’s attitude increasingly outrageous. Finally, they called the marriage off. Later, she married one of my distant uncles, Ferdinand d’Orléans, the Duke of Alençon.
Otto of Bavaria was the younger brother of King Ludwig II. At age 24, he exhibited unmistakable signs of madness and was subsequently locked away in one of the royal family’s castles. Otto eventually succeeded his brother, following the latter’s tragic dead. He nominally ruled for decades, and remained mad for 44 years until his death. Prince Luitpold of Bavaria had already assumed the regency after the deposition of Louis II, and continued in his functions until his own death, succeeded in his regency by his son, the future Louis III of Bavaria, the last king of the country.
Julie Hauck, Princess of Battenberg, came from a small Polish noble family and served the Russian Court. She soon met the brother of the Tsarina, Prince Alexander of Hesse. They fell in love. The Russian Imperial Family opposed the marriage, as did the Grand Ducal family of Hesse, yet the couple wed anyway. It was a morganatic marriage, meaning a union of unequal rank. Juliette Hauck received the title of Princess of Battenberg, which she passed on to her children. This morganatic branch of the Hesse dynasty experienced a rather exceptional destiny, with descendants ruling in Bulgaria, Spain, and indirectly, in England to this day.
Prince Max of Baden belonged to the Grand Ducal family of Baden. He was the last chancellor of the German Empire and, at the end of the war, he proclaimed the abdication of his own ruler, Emperor William II, who never forgave him for this. He became Grand Duke of Baden and had one son, Berthold, who succeeded him. The latter married my first cousin, Theodora of Greece.
Princess Louise of Belgium was the daughter of King Leopold II, who treated his children abominably. She married her first cousin, Philippe of Saxe Cobourg, son of Clementine d’Orléans. The two did not get along, and eventually the princess ran away with a lover, a handsome Hungarian officer. The response of the Belgian Royal Family was to lock her away in an asylum. Her life became a sordid tale of adventures. She died in solitude and misery.
The blind King of Hanover, George V, bet on the wrong horse. During the War of 1866 between an invading Prussia and Austria, he joined the latter side and was beaten at Sadowa. He lost his throne and lands, and was forced into exile. He is pictured here with his daughter Fredericka, who would marry a German aristocrat.
Thyra of Denmark, the Duchess of Cumberland. The son of King George V of Hanover, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, a title he inherited from his ties with the English Royal Family, lived nearly his entirely life in exile. He wasn’t particularly good looking, but married Princess Thyra, the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark, a woman from a grand dynasty but with a tarnished reputation among the nobility stemming from a scandal in her youth. They were a happy couple and had many children.
In 1913, the great powers of the world broke off a piece of the Ottoman Empire and created the principality of Albania. Many are familiar with King Zog, but few know that he had a predecessor. In effect, these great powers sought out a prince from a modest German dynasty, the Princes of Wied. His name was William. He married Princess Sophie of Schönburg and agreed to rule over Albania. It was rather curious, the arrival of this princely Germanic couple in what was still a largely Middle Age Albania. A few months later, World War I broke out, and the couple was chased from Albania. They returned to their little Germanic principality where they lived quietly.