Margaret Geddes – A royal bride in mourning

margaret geddes
Smith Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Margaret Geddes was born on 18 March 1913 as the daughter of Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes, later 1st Baron Geddes and Isabella Gamble Ross in Dublin. She was the only girl with four brothers. The Grand Duchy of Hesse was long gone when she first met Prince Louis of Hesse on a visit to Halls Hirth in Garmisch. He was the younger son Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse and the younger brother of Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse.

He was so in love with her that he secured a post as a third secretary in the German Embassy in London so they could see each other. Her father was less than amused about the match but nevertheless, they became engaged in 1937. However, their wedding day would be overshadowed by tragedy. First, the groom’s father died on 9 October 1937 and the wedding was postponed for a month. Then just four days before the wedding, an aeroplane carrying the groom’s mother Eleonore, his brother Georg Donatus, his pregnant sister-in-law Cecilie, their two young sons crashed at Ostend – killing all on board. The wedding took place on 17 November 1937 with the guests dressed in mourning in St. Peter’s Church in Eaton Square. Lord Louis Mountbatten was the best man and Margaret wore a black coat and a skirt. The Duke and Duchess of Kent were also among the guests. Later that day, the newlyweds travelled to Ostend to collect the bodies and to bring them back to Darmstadt.

Prince Louis now also became the head of the House of Hesse and titular Grand Duke. They adopted Louis’ niece Johanna – the only one of Georg Donatus and Cecilie’s children who had not been on board – but tragically she died from meningitis in 1939.

When the Second World War broke out, Margaret and Louis were living at Schloss Wolfsgarten near Darmstadt. She managed to keep in touch with her family through the Red Cross and they tried to keep a low profile. After the war, she and her husband attended the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip, whose sister Cecilie had been Louis’ sister-in-law and it was through Margaret that British royal family re-established contact with its German relations after the Second World War. Margaret was a charitable person and she had a wing of Wolfsgarten converted into a home for disabled children, such as victims of thalidomide.

In her later years, she suffered from cancer and she lost the sight in one eye. Margaret was widowed in 1968 and she outlived her husband for nearly 30 years. They would have no children together. Margaret died on 26 January 1997 and she was buried alongside her husband, Johanna, her father-in-law, and the family members who were killed in the aeroplane crash at Rosenhöhe.

The grave of Louis, Prince of Hesse and by Rhine and his wife Margaret/Photo by Moniek Bloks

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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