While lots of royals end up in grand tombs, the grave of Marie-Auguste of Anhalt could not be more humble. In fact, I almost didn’t find it.
Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt was born on 10 June 1898 as the daughter of the future Eduard, Duke of Anhalt and Princess Louise Charlotte of Saxe-Altenburg. She grew up mainly in Dessau with her three surviving siblings.
Marie-Auguste married Prince Joachim of Prussia, the youngest son of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, on 11 March 1916 in Berlin. His mother’s lady-in-waiting described him as not strong, “either mentally or morally.” His mother, Empress Augusta Victoria, had been instrumental in arranging the match. However, Joachim was involved in a jewellery scandal just before the wedding, and it was feared that the wedding would not go ahead. Nevertheless, they married at the Bellevue Palace in a Lutheran service with only a few guests. His father, the Emperor, was not present.
Their only son, Prince Karl Franz of Prussia, was born on 15 December 1916, but their marriage soon turned sour. There were rumours that he had beaten her and she had fled from their home. Their divorce did not happen until well after the First World War was over. By then, her father-in-law had abdicated his throne, and he was living in exile in the Netherlands. The deeply depressed Joachim took his own life just weeks after the divorce. He had shot himself in Villa Leignitz in Potsdam but had not died immediately. Attendants had found him and had taken him to the hospital, where he died a few hours later. His ailing mother was told he had had an accident, but she probably realised the truth.
Joachim had been given custody of their young son, and the Emperor believed that the boy should now be given into the custody of his uncle Prince Eitel Friedrich. However, it wasn’t until a year later that the German courts ruled that the former Emperor had no say over the matter, and Karl Franz was returned to Marie-Auguste. During this year, the young Prince had spent a lot of time with his grandparents, and he was a comfort to the dying Augusta Victoria. She died in their exile in Doorn on 11 April 1921. Marie-Auguste – whose divorce had not been completely finalised at the time of Joachim’s death – sued her father-in-law for non-payment of the financial support for herself and her son as it had been provided in the marriage contract. The parties eventually agreed to negotiate further, but it is unclear if the matter was settled.
At the end of 1924, newspapers reported the engagement between Marie-Auguste to Teddo Bienert, but the wedding never took place. Instead, she remarried on 27 September 1926 to Johannes-Michael Freiherr von Loën, whom she had known since childhood. They had no children together, and this marriage ended in divorce nine years later.
Marie-Auguste lived a quiet life and saw her son get married three times. His first wife was Princess Henriette of Schonaich-Carolath, the daughter of Emperor Wilhelm II’s second wife, Hermine Reuss of Greiz. They married in 1940 and had three sons together – of which two survived to adulthood. Prince Karl Franz married two more times; firstly, to Luise Hartmann (ended in divorce) and secondly to Eva Maria Herrera, with whom he had two daughters, Alexandra and Desiree.