Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Consort Profile: German Empress Augusta von Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
The two were married in Berlin on June 11, 1829. Prince Wilhelm was fourteen years older than his new bride and admitted to his sister that he was not totally in love with her. He appreciated her kind nature and keen mind but, unfortunately, she just did not ‘stir’ his blood at all. Princess Augusta knew nothing of this and had an exalted view of her new husband and was filled with hopes for happiness, a house full of children and total domestic bliss. However, her rose-hued glasses soon fell away. Her intellectual interests made her rather unappreciative of the very militaristic Prussian court and she could not help but feel slightly put off by her sister-in-law, the Crown Princess, being given pride of place even though everyone knew the future of the succession would depend on Augusta. She thought well enough of the Crown Prince but soon fell into an ever deeper state of sadness due to the neglect of her husband. Too bookish for his tastes, in time he began seeing more “feminine” mistresses and Princess Augusta fell victim to bouts of depression. It was not until 1831 that the succession was finally secured when Princess Augusta gave birth to the future Kaiser Friedrich III. It would take seven more years for another child to be born, Princess Louise, and no more were forthcoming. There were other pregnancies but, tragically, all ended in miscarriage.
Because Augusta later burned all of her papers from this period it can never be known if she was party to or even supportive of such designs. She was certainly disappointed that the King did not take the lead in the unification efforts but outwardly she always remained supportive of her husband and the Prussian monarchy as it was. They moved to the Rhineland when Prince Wilhelm was posted there and more liberal-minded people continued to visit her. The court in Berlin, naturally, disapproved of this as they disapproved of her ideas on education, her tolerance of and friendship with Catholics and the way she was raising little Prince Friedrich, ensuring his training was academic as well as military. The liberal attitudes Friedrich later displayed were often (mostly in Berlin) “blamed” on his British wife but the upbringing his mother gave him also had a great deal to do with it and she was, naturally, perfectly thrilled when he became engaged to the Princess Royal for the same reason Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were. Aside the personal happiness they clearly had together, she too hoped that they would be the future rulers of a united Germany that was a democratic and progressive constitutional monarchy.