Allene Tew – The American Princess who conquered the continent (Part two)

allene tew
(public domain)

More of her family would die in the next years. Her mother passed away in 1923, followed by her father in 1925 and Allene took care of both of them in the last months of their life. She and Anson made a new start, and they bought a new house on Park Avenue. She had inherited the Hostetter millions from her children and now had plenty to spare. So, they also bought a house in Paris. On 22 January 1927, Anson went to have lunch with a good friend and never returned home. The official cause of death was acute indigestion, but it was probably a heart attack. The New York Times wrote that Allene was “the richest and saddest of New York’s socially celebrated widows.” Later that year, Allene set off for Europe – alone.

She bought a new house in Paris, not wanting to live in the one that she and Anson had bought together. Just a few months later, she met a handsome diplomat from the German Embassy, and his name was Prince Heinrich XXXIII Reuss of Köstritz. Thirty-three also happened to be Allene’s lucky number. He was once considered to be a possible heir to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands until the birth her daughter Juliana as he was a great-grandson of King William II of the Netherlands, through his daughter Princess Sophie. He had had two children with his first wife Princess Victoria Margaret of Prussia, but they had divorced in 1922. They were married on 10 April 1929 in her Paris home, and Allene became a Princess.

However, if Allene hoped for a brand-new family, she would be disappointed. Heinrich’s extended family thought she was beneath them and continued to speak German in her presence. Heinrich’s 14-year-old daughter Maria Louise wanted absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. His son was kinder to her. Then, a stock market crash caused Allene’s fortunes to fall, and she put her two homes in America on the market. In 1932, Allene’s second husband killed himself after losing his entire fortune. However, Allene was an experienced businesswoman by now, and she managed to economise. For Heinrich, Allene’s main attraction vanished under the sun, and it was all just too much for him. He turned to drinking and gambling and eventually, the Nazis. In 1935, Allene’s secretary announced their separation.

Allene quickly began to appear with a new man by her side. She had met him through one of her husband’s neighbours, Armgard zu Lippe-Biesterfield (the mother of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, the future consort of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands) and his name was Pavel (or Paul) Pavlovitch Kotzebue, a Russian Count. On 31 October 1935, Allene divorced Heinrich, and her marriage to Paul followed on 4 March 1936. Maury Paul – an American journalist – wrote, “There is something of a perennial Cinderella about the Countess Kotzebue.”

Allene would later lend money to Prince Bernhard so that he could go to the Olympic Winter Games in order to woo the then Princess Juliana. A correspondence began between them and in the first letter he recounted to her the wedding of his “aunt” Allene to Paul. Allene would later join Bernhard during the marriage negotiations and on 7 January 1937, she was present for their wedding. Apparently, her tiara had hurt her head to such an extent that she took it off during dinner and laid it on the table. Shortly after the honeymoon, Allene took it upon herself to give the future Queen a – in her opinion anyway – much-needed make-over. When the future Queen Beatrix was born in 1938, Allene was asked to become one of the five godparents.

In December 1939, as the Second World War loomed, Allene and Paul travelled back to New York where Allene was once more the owner of a grand 18-room apartment. The family kept in touch with Princess Juliana and her children who were now in exile in Canada. She also kept in touch with her stepson who – due to his royal title – had been banned from serving and was now living with his sister and her daughter in increasingly difficult circumstances in Germany. She would call him her “son” and wrote to him every three days. She would do all she could to get him to America but Maria Louise – who had always held her in contempt – was ignored. She was finally able to embrace him again in March 1948 in New York. After the war, Allene and Paul were able to return to France, though their properties had been plundered.

In 1948, Allene was one of the honoured guests at the inauguration of Princess Juliana as Queen of the Netherlands. She wrote to her stepson, “Everyone is extremely nice to me, and I was given same rank and courtesy, and attention as the Royalties here and they were very charming as well.”

Allene died in France on 1 May 1955, at the age of 82.1

  1. Read more: An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl

About Moniek Bloks 2252 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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