The newlyweds moved to Neuwied, but they also often returned to Wassenaar. Just 11 months after the wedding, Marie gave birth to her first child – a son named William Frederick. Her father visited Neuwied shortly after and held his grandson. He even renovated his own estate to include a new wing with study for his son-in-law and a playroom for his grandchildren. Marie and William went on to have five more children together: Alexander (1874 – 1877), William (1876 – 1945), Victor (1877 – 1946), Louise (1880 – 1965) and Elisabeth (1883 – 1938). Marie remained popular in the Netherlands, and the family spent a lot of time there. William and the children learned to speak Dutch and were considered members of the extended Dutch Royal Family.
In 1877, Marie was in The Hague when Queen Sophie passed away. Marie and her father were in the room next to Sophie’s when King William III came to see her. A report stated, “He found the Queen deadly weak and almost dying, the sufferer spoke with a bland voice a few words of no meaning. The King stayed no more than a few minutes in the sickroom and then went to the next room where Prince Frederick and the Princess zu Wied were. Here he began speaking of the Queen in such an inappropriate manner that the Princess zu Wied got up and left the room in tears.”1 Her thoughts on William’s subsequent marriage to Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont and the birth of their daughter Wilhelmina are not known, but she continued to visit the Netherlands.
In early September 1881, Marie’s father was preparing to travel to Neuwied when he came down with a cold. On 5 September, he returned to De Paauw with a fever and took to his bed. Marie received a telegram and hurried home to be with her father. She and Marie of Prussia (wife of Prince Henry – King William II’s third son) stayed up all night by his bedside. On the morning of 8 September, Frederick sat down in his armchair to say goodbye to everyone. He died that night at half-past 10. As a woman, Marie could not attend his funeral, but her husband was there on her behalf. He had reached the grand age of 84. His last public appearance had been at the baptism of the future Queen Wilhelmina.
Wilhelmina first mentioned Marie to her governess Miss Winter in 1891 in a telegram when Marie, William and their daughters Louise and Elisabeth were staying at the Loo Palace. Wilhelmina referred to them collectively as the “Wieds.’2 Miss Winter later came to work for Marie to teach her daughters English.
Queen Emma wrote to Miss Winter, “They would wish you to teach the girls English (I suppose including literature) & to be a pleasant companion not only for the girls but for the whole home party. I asked what would be your duties & got this answer: to feel happy & at home with us and teach the girls English. You would not have any grave responsibilities because Miss v. Harbon (the daughters’ governess) is still with the girls & in charge of their education. You know enough about the life of the Wieds to realise that you would form one of the home circle and enjoy family life. You also know that they spend the summer and autumn at Monrepos in Neuwied & the winter in Italy at St Margarita. The Wieds offer you 100 marks (hundred!) a month & of course would pay your travelling expenses coming & leaving.”3
After the death of Sophie, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar – a daughter of King William II – Marie was one of the last remaining family members of Queen Wilhelmina. She and her husband were present at Wilhelmina inauguration in 1898. She was also present for Wilhelmina’s marriage to Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1901, and she was one of Princess Juliana‘s godparents in 1909. When Marie’s eldest son William Frederick married Princess Pauline of Württemberg – a first cousin of Wilhelmina through her mother Emma – both Queen Emma and Queen Wilhelmina were present. When Marie and William celebrated their silver wedding anniversary, the two Queens gave them two paintings by Mesdag.
In 1899, Marie became a grandmother for the first time with the birth of Hermann, Hereditary Prince of Wied. A second grandson named Dietrich was born in 1901. Her second surviving son William married Princess Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg in 1906, but she would not live to see him elected Prince of Albania. Marie was widowed when her husband died on 22 October 1907 after a brief illness. He was 62 years old.
Marie and her daughters Louise and Elisabeth withdrew to villa Waldheim at Monrepos. She lived to see the birth of her granddaughter, Marie Eleonore of Wied, by her son Willliam in early 1909. Marie herself died quite suddenly on 22 June 1910, several weeks before her 71st birthday. She had developed a fever only a day before. Dutch newspapers reported that Marie “despite living for 40 years abroad had not lost her Dutch heart, but has maintained her love and sympathy for the Dutch people to the fullest as she had also shown. That love and sympathy have always been reciprocated by the Dutch people with warmth.”4 The Dutch court went into mourning as well, and flags were flown at half-mast.
Queen Wilhelmina was represented by her husband, Prince Henry, at the funeral in Neuwied. She was buried at the family cemetery near the castle. The castle was demolished in the ’60s. While her two daughters never married, her third surviving son married Countess Gisela of Solms-Widenfels in 1912. The current Prince of Wied is her great-great-great-grandson.
- Koning Willem III by Dik van der Meulen p.530
- Darling Queen, Dear Old Bones edited by Emerentia van Heuven-van Nes p.72
- Darling Queen, Dear Old Bones edited by Emerentia van Heuven-van Nes p.188-189
- De standaard – 24-06-1910