Frederica of Hanover – The princess who followed her heart

(public domain)

Princess Frederica of Hanover was born in 1848. Her father was George, Crown Prince of Hanover and her mother was Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenberg. The Princess was given the title of Her Royal Highness when in Hanover but she was also addressed as Her Highness when in the United Kingdom as she was a great-granddaughter of King George III.

Frederica’s father succeeded to the throne of Hanover as King George V of Hanover in 1851. Little is known of Frederica and her siblings Marie and Ernest’s childhoods in Hanover but their father’s position made Frederica an attractive future bride.

(public domain)

Otto von Bismark, the Prussian Prime Minister, contacted Hanover in 1866 about a possible match for the Princess and Prince Albrecht of Prussia was suggested as a potential groom for Frederica. However, it was not long before the Austro-Prussian war broke out and this plan was no longer feasible. King George V chose to side with the Austrians which led to the Prussian annexation of Hanover. Shockingly after this King George was overthrown, and despite his pleas to King William I of Prussia, who was also his cousin, he never returned to reign and his life was lived out in exile.

Princess Frederica had to leave Hanover and headed into exile with the rest of the family after her father was deposed. After moving around, her family settled in Austria at the Schloss Cumberland and her father became an honorary general in the British army before he passed away in 1878. During her time in exile, Frederica visited England a number of times to stay with family and she was popular in high society.

As time went on Frederica had two more suggestions for her hand in marriage; Alexander, the Prince of Orange, and Prince Leopold, her second cousin, the youngest son of Queen Victoria. In a surprising move, Frederica instead went with her heart and married for love, in a way the loss of her father’s title meant that she was free to marry who she wanted. The lucky man was Baron Alfons von Pawel-Rammingen. Frederica knew Alfons from his role as her father’s equerry, though he was also a government official.

frederica hanover
Frederica in her wedding dress (public domain via Royal Collection Trust)

Alfons was made a British citizen and the couple married in 1880 at Windsor Castle. A verse was read at the wedding which was written by the poet Tennyson. The heartfelt poem mentioned Frederica’s bond with her late father who was blind. Tennyson wrote ‘the blind king sees you today’ alluding to the late King of Hanover watching on from heaven.

The newlyweds moved into rooms in Hampton Court Palace, where they had one child, a daughter named Victoria. Sadly she passed away after only a few weeks of life and the couple had no more children. The pair threw themselves into London society and visited Osborne House regularly after this.

Frederica is well remembered for her devotion to charitable causes and public events. She was the patron of the Princess Frederica School which she opened in 1889. Frederica also opened a convalescent home for women in poverty who had given birth for after they were discharged from maternity homes. On top of this, she gave money to charities for the blind and deaf and was involved with the RSPCA.

Frederica and Alfons left Hampton Court in 1898 and then moved to Biarritz in France for most of the year, with visits to England. The couple lived a quiet life in later years and it was in France that Frederica passed away in 1926.  The Princess’ body was returned to England for interment in St George’s Chapel, Windsor where she had been married forty years earlier. Alfons lived until 1932.

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