Antoinette de Mérode was born on 28 September 1828 as the daughter of Count Werner de Merode and his wife, Countess Victoire de Spangen d’Uyternesse. She married Charles, the future Prince of Monaco on her 18th birthday in Brussels. She was described as “golden haired.”
The newlyweds received a warm welcome in Monaco, but they soon returned to France where Antoinette gave birth to a son named Albert on 13 November 1848. Charles and Antoinette set up their home in France and Antoinette became a close member of Empress Eugénie’s court. Albert and Antoinette attended a great ball in Versailles when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert came to visit in September 1855. She was most impressed by all the imperial grandeur.
Tragedy struck in the autumn of 1862 as Antoinette was diagnosed with cancer. Charles had begun to lose his eyesight and heavily leant on his “angel”, Antoinette. It soon became clear that Antoinette was terminally ill and she was moved to Marchais in the belief that the country air might help. Antoinette did not want to be idle and requested to return to Monaco to help her husband and his ageing mother. She travelled back to Monaco in a coach with two maids and a doctor. She died on 10 February 1864, and she was still only 35 years old. She was buried in the Saint Nicholas Cathedral.1