L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Princess Thyra of Denmark

Miniature by Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908).  Circa 1900-10.

Princess Thyra of Denmark (29 September 1853, Copenhagen – 26 February 1933, Gmunden), born Thyra Amelie Caroline Charlotte Anne, the youngest daughter of Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel. Quiet and gentle, she had neither the great beauty of her eldest sister, Alexandra, Princess of Wales, nor the great charm of her other sister, the future Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia. But her mother still hoped for a marriage nearly as impressive as her first two daughters' had - rather unexpectedly - been.

With her sisters, Dagmar (Minnie), then Tsarevna Maria Feodorovna of Russia, and Alexandra, then Princess of Wales.  Circa late 1860s.

But at the age of eighteen Thyra fell in love with a lieutenant in the Cavalry, Vilhelm Frimann Marcher, and became pregnant. Because of Thyra's station, marriage was never considered. Instead, the young girl went with her mother to visit family in Greece, where her brother was king. Her extended stay there was then explained by false reports that she had taken ill. As "official " news gave out that her condition had worsened, her father and younger brother joined her and her mother. At the end of 1871, she gave birth to a daughter. Only a few months later, in January of 1872, the baby's father hung himself. (The circumstances of his suicide are unclear, and it is further unknown whether Thyra ever knew of his death.) Because of the princess' depression, she lingered in Greece until March. And then, on her way home she became actually ill, with typhoid, and didn't reach Denmark until June.  Her little girl was adopted by a Danish couple; it isn't known if Thyra ever had any further contact with the child.

Circa 1870.
Circa 1870.
1870s.  (I haven't been able to identify the artist.)

For the next several years she lived quietly and gave little or no thought to marriage but her mother eventually resumed the search for a suitable husband. In 1878 she married Ernst August, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, the exiled heir to the Kingdom of Hanover. As the Kingdom of Hanover had been annexed by Prussia in 1866, and since the relations between Denmark and Prussia had long been very tense, the match was controversial. But the couple was happy and had six children. (Ironically, their youngest child, Ernst August, married the only daughter of the Kaiser, bringing about a partial rapprochement between the Hanover family and the Hohenzollerns.)

Circa 1886.
With members of her extended family - Danish, British, Russian - at Bernstorff, 1892.  Thyra is at center, in the light colored suit.
Circa 1900.

Two of their sons died young, and Thyra had frequent bouts of depression - and perhaps more than one breakdown. But the gatherings of her Danish family - always very close - were a frequent and pleasant diversion, and the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland were comfortable in their exile in Austria. Her husband died in 1923, and Thyra lived another ten years, passing away at the age of seventy-nine.

Circa 1913.

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