In August 1831, Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg – the mother of Queen Victoria’s future husband Prince Albert – was dying. Her marriage to Albert’s father had ended in divorce in 1826 after she had allegedly committed adultery with Lieutenant Alexander von Haustein, who was created Count Pölzig when they married later that same year. Ernst himself had, of course, not been faithful to her either. Louise never denied or admitted to the charges and wrote to a friend, “I am to separate from the Duke… We came to an understanding and parted with tears, for life.” She later wrote, “Leaving my children was the most painful thing of all.” In March 1831, Louise and Alexander went to see a performance at the theatre, and she fainted after suffering a haemorrhage and had to be carried out.
She dictated a final message to her maid;
The feeling that my strength is sinking every hour and that perhaps this illness will end only with my death induces me to make one more request of my deeply beloved husband. If it is God’s wish to call me away in Paris, I wish my body to be taken to Germany, to my husband’s estate, in case he intends to live there in future. Should he choose another place, I beg to be taken there. I was happy to have lived by his side, but if death is going to part us, I wish my body at least to be near him.
She never recovered and died of uterine cancer on 30 August 1831. She had collapsed with Alexander in the next room. On 13 December 1832, she was buried in the churchyard at Pfesselbach, but she was moved 14 years later by her sons to the Ducal tomb in the Church of St Moritz in Coburg to lay by her first husband’s side in defiance of her last wishes.1