A History of Royal Weddings At Windsor: Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein & Prince Aribert
The next wedding in our review of Royal Weddings at Windsor features a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, a gay Prince, and an unhappily-ever-after. Let's get this one out of the way!
Her Highness Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein was born in 1872 at Windsor's Cumberland Lodge to Victoria and Albert's third daughter, Princess Helena and her husband Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. The Princess was raised in England and was very close to Queen Victoria. When she was 18 Princess Marie Louise met German Prince Aribert of Anhalt, and within a month they were engaged. The Princess' cousin, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II approved of the match and smoothed over any misgivings the rest of the family may have had. Maybe that should've been the first sign the marriage wasn't a good idea.
The July 6, 1891 wedding of Princess Marie Louise and Prince Aribert was hailed in the press as the "first grand marriage to take place at St. George's Chapel since the late Duke of Albany's marriage". The event was packed with Royal guests, officiated by The Archbishop of Canterbury, and had all the pomp one would expect of a double-Royal wedding in late 19th-century Victorian England. On her wedding day Princess Marie Louise looked like what by now was the classic Windsor Royal bride in luxurious white satin trimmed in priceless lace. She also wore her mother Princess Helena's bridal veil and glittering diamond stars in her hair, which had been a gift from her doting grandmother Queen Victoria. After the wedding service a reception was held at Windsor Castle.
According to all accounts, the newlyweds began living separate lives almost immediately. Whether she was content with the situation or not, Princess Marie Louise filled her time with traveling, while Prince Aribert spent his time in the company of male "friends". There is a good chance that the marriage was never even consummated. There certainly were never any children. In 1890 while Princess Marie Louise was traveling to Canada, Prince Aribert's father The Duke of Anhalt had the marriage annulled (rumor is that Prince Aribert had been caught in bed with another man). Princess Marie Louise rushed back from abroad - right back to the comforting arms of her grandmother The Queen.
The Princess never remarried. She considered her marriage vows to be sacrosanct, despite whatever The Duke of Anhalt or even The Church of England had to say about the annulment. However, one thing Princess Marie Louise seemed to be great at was making the most of a poor situation; after her marriage was over she became a very busy full-time working Royal on behalf of The House of Windsor. She lived in Great Britain for the rest of her life - through the reigns of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Queen Elizabeth I. She also wrote her memoirs, titled 'My Memories of Six Reigns', before her death in 1956 at the age of 84. Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein is buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore...at Windsor.
- Written by Marcia Masenda Mack
(Top Image: Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein in her wedding dress, July 1891 from The Royal Collection Trust; Bottom: Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, by Cecil Beaton, 1953)