Marie of Saxe-Altenburg – An exiled Queen (Part two)




marie altenburg
(public domain)

Read part one here.

Then came the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, and George supported Austria. However, Austria lost the war, and as a result, Prussia annexed Hanover, causing George and Marie to be expelled from their Kingdom. George never abdicated the throne, and following the loss, he and his son went to Vienna while Marie and their daughters remained in Hanover at the Herrenhausen Palace. Marie sent an encouraging letter to him, “Oh my angel Männi, act accordingly if it is going to be difficult. You will never regret it. Giving in now, after you’ve done everything so bravely, is only honourable and will be generally recognised as the highest nobility. Your actions are always so noble and sublime.”1 She soon felt unsafe at Herrenhausen and left for the nearly finished Marienburg, which she called her “Eldorado.” Marie managed to have several jewels smuggled abroad before she also left for Austria.

Emperor Franz Joseph gave the exiled family the use of the Braunschweig Villa and the so-called Kaiserstockl. At Kaiserstockl, Marie and George celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. The family was eventually allowed to retain several properties such as Marienburg, and they were given an annual pension from the interest of a restitution payment of 16 million thalers. Eventually, the family settled in Gmunden at Villa Thun, later known as the Queen’s Villa. Marie later wrote, “You can all return home from exile whenever you want, but we cannot because we continue to live in exile. That is a feeling, that is heavy to bear. […] But I take comfort from God’s word every day. I feel far happier here in Gmunden than in Vienna, where the heat is often so oppressive and the dust so unbearable. But I can rejoice in the beautiful nature and stand up in rural loneliness.”2

marie hanover
Princess Marie and Queen Marie (public domain)

From 1874, George was often ill, and he underwent an operation. He went to recuperate in Biarritz and from then on lived mainly in Paris due to its milder climate and proximity to the springs of Barèges. He was often accompanied by his elder daughter Frederica, while his younger daughter Marie and his son stayed with their mother. He returned to Gmunden just once – in 1877 – but he would die in Paris on 12 June 1878. George was taken to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for burial and Marie did not attend his funeral, preferring to mourn him in silence at Gmunden. While Ernest Augustus did not succeed his father as King, he did succeed in his English title of Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale.

At the end of 1878, Ernest Augustus married Princess Thyra of Denmark and Marie’s first grandchild – a daughter named Marie Louise – was born on 11 October 1879. Ernest Augustus and Thyra would go on to have six children together. Frederica married Baron Alfons von Pawel-Rammingen in 1880, but tragically, their only child would live for just three weeks. Her youngest daughter and namesake would remain unmarried, and she stayed with her mother. The two Maries visited the spas at Bad Kissingen at least once a year, and they often entertained at Gmunden.

As she grew older, she lost sight in one of her eyes. Marie always dressed in mourning clothes after her husband’s death and only took it off for the first time when her granddaughter Marie Louise married Prince Max of Baden in 1900. She was devastated by the sudden death of her 16-year-old grandson Prince Christian appendicitis in 1901. Still, an even bigger blow came on 4 June 1904 when her daughter and namesake also fell ill with appendicitis. Despite an emergency operation, Marie could not be saved. She was 54 years old.

Queen Marie of Hanover would live to be 88 years old. She died on 9 January 1907 of peritonitis. Emperor Franz Joseph personally attended her funeral with several Archdukes and Archduchesses. She was buried in the mausoleum her son had built at Schloss Cumberland, also in Gmunden. She was buried next to her daughter Marie.

  1. Marie Königin von Hannover Die Frau an der Seite König Georgs V by Alexander Dylong p. 70
  2. Marie Königin von Hannover Die Frau an der Seite König Georgs V by Alexander Dylong p. 76






About Moniek Bloks 2189 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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