In 1854, an epidemic erupted in Saxony that would quickly ravage the country as it had ravaged its neighbours’’. The royal family, led by Queen Maria, a princess of Bavaria, fled Dresden to seek refuge in the capital at the Castle of Pillnitz.
The Queen only agreed to leave Dresden on the condition that her husband, King Frederick Augustus, would join the family at the castle as soon as possible. Night fell, and the mood was far from cheerful.
In her salon, Queen Maria, surrounded by her ladies, tried to forget about the terrible situation. She asked one of them to read aloud, though all were distracted with thoughts of what was happening in Dresden, and the Queen was preoccupied with the idea of her husband remaining at the centre of the epidemic.
Suddenly, the lady stopped reading and seemed petrified, her eyes looking past the Queen with an expression of horror. “What is the matter, are you ill?” cried the Queen.
Straight away, the lady continued reading aloud, but with a changed voice, a trembling one. The Queen interrupted, “Well, what happened?” The lady did not want to respond. She mumbled and gave incoherent explanations.
Finally, the Queen forced her to admit the truth. While reading, she had lifted her eyes and suddenly noticed, behind the Queen, a woman entering the salon and walking towards another door. The unknown woman was dressed in full Court mourning, all in black, with a black veil over her face and holding a mourning fan. “My God,” cried the Queen, “It is the Black Lady that you have seen. “It is for me that she has come.”
Indeed, in the royal family of Saxony, this infamous ghost always announced the death of a member of the dynasty. The Queen spent hours uncontrollably agitated and terrorized, her ladies unable to calm her.
She finally retired to bed but could not fall asleep. In the morning, news came from Dresden. King Frederick Augustus had died that night. The Black Lady had not come for the Queen, but for him.
Extract from the memoirs of Mrs Hugh Fraser “A Diplomat’s Wife in Many Lands.”