Marie of Württemberg – Prince Albert’s stepmother (Part two)




marie wurttemberg
(public domain)

Read part one here.

In the early years of the marriage, Marie suffered at least two miscarriages that reportedly almost cost her her life, after which she travelled to the waters at Travemünde. She wrote to her husband, “The two miscarriages so quickly following each other have deeply affected my health and body and requires the use of the waters. First to help strengthen the nerves and secondly to achieve hope for the future, to become the mother of a healthy child, if God wills it!”1 Unfortunately, Marie’s wish would never come true. As Duchess, Marie had supported the founding of two schools for girls. She was also a patron of the arts and was an acquaintance of Franz Liszt.

On 10 February 1840, Prince Albert married Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and so Marie became the stepmother-in-law of the British Queen. Marie and Ernst had both been invited to Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838 but Marie did not go. Albert wrote to his stepmother after becoming engaged to Victoria and also during the days leading up to the wedding. He wrote, “The farewell in Gotha was quite sad for me and I haven’t been very cheerful since then because the last events in England don’t agree with me. People behave quite miserably on all sides towards me…”2 After the wedding, he wrote asking for her blessing but it is unclear why she wasn’t at the wedding itself. When the future King Edward VII was born in 1841, he asked Marie to become a godmother. She agreed but did not attend the christening and Victoria’s mother acted as her proxy. Albert had even specifically written to her that, “You should not be afraid of appearing in person as a proxy can be quite useful.”3

In 1842, the younger Ernst married Alexandrine of Baden, giving Marie another step-daughter-in-law. But while Victoria and Albert would go on to have nine children, the union between Ernst and Alexandrine would remain childless, probably due to Ernst’s venereal disease.

On 29 February 1844, Marie was widowed when Ernst died at the age of 60. She wrote to Albert, “The poor,  good Duke, dear unhappy child, is no longer. […] Suddenly when he got up out of bed, he felt so tired and completely lacking in strength and at half-past six he passed away after asking for help with great haste and saying, ‘Oh I can’t take it’, and it was over without great agony and great pain.”4 Marie was no longer the wife of the reigning Duke and as the Dowager Duchess she chose to live at several residences in the duchy, Schloss Reinhardsbrunn, Schloss Friedrichsthal, and Schloss Friedenstein. It took quite a while to establish her rights, and she even had to ask Alexandrine to intercede with Ernst on her behalf.

As Albert’s family grew, Marie kept in touch with them too. She wrote to the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his confirmation and he wrote back, calling her “Grandmama.” She met her step-granddaughter Victoria shortly after her marriage in 1858 and Queen Victoria wrote to her daughter asking her if she found “Grandmama looking so old.”5 She also corresponded with Princess Alice quite regularly.

By July 1860, Marie was clearly ill as Albert wrote how “unhappy it makes me to hear that you have suffering so!”6 Albert’s last letter to his stepmother is dated 13 September 1860 and comes with his congratulations for her birthday three days later. He adds, “I was pleased to hear that you have been doing much better in the past few days.”78

One of Marie’s last letters was to her stepdaughter-in-law Alexandrine and was dictated to Julie von Wangenheim. “Albert gave me a wonderful wheelchair, which unfortunately I can no longer do without in the parlour, so much for walking; it is an English masterpiece!”9 Unfortunately, Marie would die just three days later on 24 September 1860. She had been suffering from erysipelas with high fevers and “the most terrible pain.” She had passed away after a night of struggling to breathe with “the expression of peace.”10

Her last wishes were written down, “Dear loved ones, the devoted will accompany me to my final resting place, even my good servants will not me go but I forbid anyone to accompany me who is suffering or unwell. There should be as little effort as possible for my funeral. My coffin should be simple, my clothes white muslin, simple morning hats that I always wear so that no hair can be seen. A head pillow with white oats with lace I have made. I wish to rest under God’s open sky, but I want to submit to the wishes of my relatives.”11

She was buried in the Ducal mausoleum at the cemetery on the Glockenberg in Coburg.

  1. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.176-177
  2. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.280
  3. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.281
  4. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.253
  5. Dearest child edited by Roger Fulford p.94
  6. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.317
  7. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.320
  8. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.345
  9. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.343
  10. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.346
  11. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.343






About Moniek 1742 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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