Sunday, May 17, 2020

Queen Caroline of Bavaria: A Royal Stepmother and Mother

Stepmothers are often portrayed as wicked and evil in fairy tales and other stories. They were almost always the antagonist in a story and hell-bent in making the protagonist's life miserable. Among royal families, there were also stories of stepmoms who were (although not exactly wicked and evil), downright difficult or were unable to endear themselves to their stepchildren. Or stepchildren hating their stepmothers because they were loyal to the memory of their beloved biological mother. Then there were also stories of intrigues and family disputes.

But there was a royal stepmother who was the complete opposite of the fairy tales' portrayal. Not only was she became a beloved member of the family but also a doting and devoted stepmother to her stepchildren. She was Princess Caroline of Baden, future Queen of Bavaria.

Princess Caroline of Baden, was the second daughter of Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Princess Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. She came from a close-knit family, a characteristic that she would want for her own family someday. Her upbringing was more French than her native German, so it was quite ironic that several years later, she developed a deep hatred with anything French. This hatred was largely rooted to the execution of Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, at the instigation of Napoleon Bonaparte. Caroline was said to be very much in love with the Duke and that her family considered him a potential husband for her. But they eventually had to drop the matter because of their fear of French opposition.

Caroline of Baden, later Queen of Bavaria, 1820.
Portrait from Karolinen Gymnasium

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Love and Marriage Prospects of the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaievna of Russia
Detail from a portrait by Christina Robertson
(State Hermitage Museum, Russia)
Beautiful, elegant, imposing and intelligent – these were just some of the words used to describe the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaievna, the second daughter of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna.

As a young grand duchess in the Russian court, she was the focus of admiration among courtiers and members of the nobility. Contemporaries described her as tall and slender, graceful, blonde, with long eyelashes and a “divine” gleam in her eyes. There was kindness and gentleness in her expression, but she was also proud and judicious.

Despite her beauty, virtues, and her status as the daughter of the Russian emperor, Olga was not lucky in love, unlike her sisters. She married a future king and became a queen, just as her parents hoped, but the relationship with her husband was far from ideal.

Olga’s older sister, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna, had married a prince of low rank, Maximilian of Leuchtenberg. Consequently, the Emperor and Empress hoped that their second daughter, would make a more brilliant match. They cherished the hope to someday see Olga marry a future king, however they did not want to force her to marry someone against her will.
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