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Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, Duchess of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born on this day in 1853, exactly 165 years ago. The only daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse, she was the only sister of six brothers, including Tsar Alexander III, and it was noted: ‘She is accustomed to be the center of the world and that everyone yields to her’. In 1874, she married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria, under disapproval from both sets of parents, who regarded each other with mistrust. The couple had five children, including Queen Marie of Romania, Grand Duchess Victoria Melita of Russia, the Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, and the Duchess of Galliera. As the Duchess of Edinburgh, Maria Alexandrovna disliked being in England and did not get along with Queen Victoria, who detested her imperious manner and the flaunting of her magnificent jewellery. In 1893, Prince Alfred succeeded his childless uncle as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and she became the Sovereign Consort of the small German Duchy, until the death of her husband in 1900, which came just after the tragic death of their only son. In her widowhood, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna maintained five residences in Germany and France, and fled to Switzerland during WWI, because of anti-Russian sentiment. During the Russian Revolution, she lost many members of her family, and the bulk of her fortune. She passed away of a heart attack in Switzerland in 1920, reportedly after receiving a telegram addressed to ‘Frau Coburg’.
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One thought on “Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna”
She looks as scary and imperious as I’d imagined from the descriptions of her that I’ve read. Eek!