Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern – A quiet life in exile

augusta victoria hohenzollern
(public domain)

Princess Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern was born on 19 August 1890 as the daughter of William, Prince of Hohenzollern and Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. She was born in Potsdam but was raised in Sigmaringen. She had two younger brothers, twins Prince Frederick Victor and Prince Francis Joseph (born 30 August 1891). Her mother was the only legitimate child of Duchess Mathilde Ludovika in Bavaria, Countess of Trani – a sister of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Augusta Victoria grew up mostly without her mother as Maria Teresa was in delicate health and she passed away in 1909 at the age of 42. Augusta Victoria’s nickname in the family was “Mimi.”

Unfortunately, not much is known about Augusta Victoria’s youth. In 1912, the exiled King Manuel II of Portugal visited his aunt Infanta Maria Josepha of Portugal, the wife of Karl Theodor, Duke in Bavaria – who happened to be Augusta Victoria’s great-uncle and they met there. Augusta Victoria and Manuel were second cousins as her grandmother was Infanta Antónia of Portugal, a daughter of Queen Maria II of Portugal and her King consort Ferdinand II of Portugal. He visited her again in April 1913 in Sigmaringen, and their engagement was announced just a few days later.1

Augusta Victoria’s father announced he was providing her with a dowry of $200,000 on 3 June 1913. The wedding date was set for 4 September 1913 at Sigmaringen. Meanwhile, Manuel returned to England, where he was living, and in June Augusta Victoria and her father arrived there to shop for her trousseau. While she was there, he drove into London every morning to visit her at Claridge’s Hotel. He brought her flowers and accompanied her on the shopping trips. It was the perfect time to get to know each other better.

augusta victoria hohenzollern
(public domain)

Manuel now also needed a permanent residence to call home, and he bought an estate called Fulwell Park in Twickenham. It had plenty of bedrooms, six receptions rooms, four bathrooms and some fifty acres of land. The river Crane flowed through part of it and Manuel and Augusta Victoria would often go rowing together. Manuel returned to Sigmaringen in late August 1913, and his mother Queen Amélie arrived on 2 September, two days before the wedding. The following day, the rest of the distinguished guests began to arrive, such as the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII), the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and the Grand Duke and Duchess of Baden. There was certainly no shortage of royal personages.

The evening before the wedding, the wedding guests gathered for a banquet in Sigmaringen Castle’s Portuguese Gallery. The following day, soldiers and schoolchildren lined the road between the castle and the parish church along arches with flowers. The Patriarch of Lisbon, who had also baptised Manuel many years ago, officiated the religious ceremony while Count August zu Eulenburg, the Grand Marshal of the Imperial Court of Germany, presided over the civil ceremony. Augusta Victoria wore a white gown with a long lace veil. After a luncheon with all their guests, the newlyweds departed for their honeymoon near Munich. The wedding guests enjoyed a gala dinner that evening.

Just a few weeks into the honeymoon, Augusta Victoria became seriously ill and had to be rushed to a hospital in Munich. An official statement later revealed “a temporary attack of influenza.” It delayed their move to England that had been planned for the end of September. She returned to her family home of Sigmaringen to recover where rumours began to circulate that her illness was perhaps a little more serious than influenza. Other rumours even said that she had deserted their marriage. From Paris, her mother-in-law issued a rebuttal: “King Manuel, myself, and our suite are extremely indignant at the stories that have been circulated. Queen Augusta Victoria contracted illness through a walk on a very cold night, and at one time we feared typhoid fever. Happily that danger is over.”2

By the following spring, Augusta Victoria was well enough to travel, and she and Manuel set up their home at Fulwell Park. They were soon a full part of the social circles in London. If there was any marital strain, the First World War was the likely cause as the Augusta Victoria was naturally pro-German as a Hohenzollern while Portugal has a long-standing alliance with the United Kingdom. Manuel offered his services to King George V in any capacity he might be needed. Not wishing to see him physically harmed, he was eventually offered a position with the British Red Cross where he would work with the rehabilitation program for wounded and disabled servicemen. He was very much involved throughout the war and visited various parts of the United Kingdom. Augusta Victoria reportedly also did volunteer work during the war, but very little is known about it.

Augusta Victoria and Manuel’s marriage was destined to remain childless. On 21 February 1920, his uncle and heir Infante Afonso, Duke of Porto, died, leaving no heir. On 31 July 1920, his cousin Miguel, Duke of Braganza and his eldest son Miguel, Duke of Viseu renounced their rights to the throne in favour of their son and half-brother – the 13-year-old Duarte Nuno. The line of Miguel was actually a rival line – dating back to Queen Maria II of Portugal whose reign was challenged by her uncle Miguel. However, it was clear to Manuel that his line might eventually die out (as it would), leaving the line of Miguel as the default line. Thus, he recognised his cousin as his heir if his own marriage should prove childless.

Manuel and Augusta Victoria lived a quiet life at Fulwell Park, although they did sometimes attend high profile events. It seems to have been a happy marriage, despite their childlessness. Manuel died rather suddenly on 2 July 1932. He had complained of a sore throat that morning and saw a laryngologist in London that same day. Upon his return home, he went to bed, where he had a light lunch. He suddenly felt breathless and suffocated following swelling of the opening at the upper end of the larynx. Augusta Victoria had been at his bedside and witnessed his horrifying last minutes.

King Manuel’s mother Amélie arrived from France the following day, just in time to receive a condolence visit from King George V and Queen Mary. On 8 July, his body was transported from Fulwell Park to the Catholic Church at Weybridge.  Amélie, Augusta Victoria and a few select friends attended a mass beforehand. His body remained there for a few days before it was moved to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Westminster where it was placed before the High Altar. A special memorial service was held on 14 July in the presence of Amélie, Augusta Victoria, former King Alfonso XIII of Spain, former King George II of Greece, the Duke of Gloucester and other dignitaries. The Portuguese government agreed to have Manuel interred in Lisbon and decreed that a state funeral would be held on 2 August 1932. On 28 July 1932, Manuel’s coffin was placed on the British cruiser Concord at Portsmouth.  Manuel had bequeathed all his personal possessions to the Portuguese nation, while the revenues would continue to go to Augusta Victoria during her lifetime – not that she needed it.

Augusta Victoria sold Fulwell Park and returned to live in Germany. She would remarry on 23 April 1939 to Count Robert Douglas at Schloss Langenstein. By this marriage, she became stepmother to his four children from his first marriage. She continued her quiet life with him in Germany and was widowed again on 26 August 1955. She outlived her second husband for 11 years – dying on 29 August 1966 at her residence at Münchhof in Baden. She was buried at Schloss Langenstein.3

  3. Read more: The Downfall of a King: Dom Manuel II of Portugal by Russell Earl Benton

About Moniek Bloks 2728 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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