Two Danish sisters who rose from obscurity to become Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia (Part one)

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This is a guest post by James-Charles Noonan.

This is the story of Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, who was the great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, and her effervescent sister, Empress Marie of Russia, who was the mother of the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II and grandmother to the famous Grand Duchess Anastasia. Alix and Minnie – as the sisters were known within the family – began their lives in obscurity but also within a loving and humorous family. Their captivating tale spans the years 1843-1929.

Although born into a titled family of solid royal stock, Alix and Minnie’s family origins were quite humble. As Glucksburgs, they possessed genuine titles and had wealthy relations, but their own family finances were modest. The sisters didn’t live the type of grand lives during their childhood in Denmark that would later mark them both as queens.

Their mother Louise, although a princess of royal blood, was forced by the circumstances of her marriage to sew her daughters’ clothes. These same daughters cleaned the home given to them by the king of Denmark since a large staff was impossible for the family to afford. The king’s gift of a new home was a blessing for the Glucksburgs. Christian did not have the means to establish himself and his family in grand style.

Neither Alix nor Minnie entertained hopes for prestigious marriages. The best possibility for either girl seemed to be a marriage with Danish officers who possessed noble family names. At that time, no marriageable royals from abroad ever turned their eyes toward Denmark, and few even knew of the existence of the Glucksburg children.

No one could imagine Alix and Minnie would one day win the two greatest thrones in Europe. Despite their beauty, it was not until political changes in Denmark moved their father close to the throne that anyone actually took note of the two young girls. There were princesses by the score from far more prestigious families waiting for their opportunity to seize a crown through marriage. Once Alix and Minnie’s father became heir to the Danish throne, however, every European monarch quickly viewed the two prettiest princesses on the continent as potential wives for their sons.

Denmark in the mid-nineteenth century was peaceful – at least on the surface – but it suffered from political malaise brought on by national poverty, from a heavy war indemnity imposed by the victorious powers following the Napoleonic Wars. Two decades had passed, but Denmark was still crippled by the debt, and its agricultural economy had been totally stalled.

At the same time, a new political crisis was at hand. The Oldenburg family, which had ruled Denmark since the middle of the fifteenth century, was dying off. The ruling king, Christian VIII, had only one son and no prospects in his advanced age of producing others. His only child, Prince Frederik, had always been a problem. He married and divorced twice without producing an heir. He favoured the delights of Parisian dancers and prostitutes and kept several as mistresses. It’s believed he also suffered from syphilis and was not even capable of fathering a child.

Europe was watching, particularly Germany, as the German states (especially Prussia) had designs on two border territories which Denmark controlled. Technically these two territories, Schleswig and Holstein, were fully independent states. If Frederik lived to succeed his father and did not produce a royal heir, there would be no Oldenburg to become the next king. If this were to happen, a succession crisis would ensue, which could lead to a European war. Prussia would likely use the pretext of an empty throne to seize the two territories outright. This looming crisis and how it was eventually resolved brought Alix and Minnie to the world stage.

Both girls were born in Copenhagen, but technically they were not Danes. Like so many of Europe’s royal houses, their family was actually German. Their father was born Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. In royal circles, he was known simply as Glucksburg. As a minor prince, he was penniless and totally without prospects, but his family had origins in the two coveted independent states, as well as distant claims to the Danish throne. His future wife, Louise, was a princess of Hesse-Kassel.

Both Louise and Christian were Danish in their sympathies, just as much as they were in their devotion to Denmark. Since both were related to Christian VIII and because the king despised his profligate son, the king directed his affections to the young couple, who, in time, he came to regard as the saviours of his dynasty. But these sentiments were still in the future, as Glucksburg’s marriage to Louise was yet to come.

Prince Christian would go on to marry Louise of Hesse-Kassel, and they would produce six children. The two oldest daughters were Alix and Minnie. The two oldest boys were Freddy and Willy, both destined to sit upon thrones of their own (Denmark and Greece). The two youngest siblings also lived intriguing lives to be sure. Alix & Minnie: A Royal Trilogy explores all of their colourful lives, as it does the drama that transpired within the royal families of Great Britain, Russia, and beyond.

Read part two here.

Alix & Minnie: A Royal Trilogy is the newest royal biography to be published and one of the largest royal histories to date. It is the story of two sisters who rose out of obscurity to eventually sit upon the two greatest thrones during Europe’s Golden Age of Royalty. This is the story of Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, who was the great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, and her effervescent sister, Empress Marie of Russia, who was the mother of the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II and grandmother to the famous Grand Duchess Anastasia.

The author, James-Charles Noonan, is a noted historian, author, and protocol expert who spent eight years exploring the exciting lives of these sisters and their families. Noonan’s trilogy is available exclusively from Amazon as a three-book history.

About Moniek Bloks 2734 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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