Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Name That Rider ~ Part 2

What about this stately (albeit stiff) lady? Do you know who she was?

Queen Marie-Henriette of The Belgians (1836-1902).
When she was 17, she married 18-year-old Prince Leopold of Belgium, the heir to the throne, on 22 August 1853.

The marriage in 1853 was arranged to strengthen the status of the Belgian Monarchy: as the former Protestant monarch of a newly established monarchy, the Belgian King wished his son to marry a member from a Roman Catholic and prestigious dynasty. It is a purely political match as the Belgians saw this marriage as a way to ensure that they won´t be invaded by Napoleon III. The marriage would become extremely unhappy, especially because Leopold II was a cruel man. This is what Queen Victoria wrote of her in 1858 (5 years after she had married Leopold):
"[She] looking very pretty and is I think very sensible about herself and the child - but she is becoming very reserved and though I think there is no real love or affection between them - she never allows a word to be said against Leopold who in revanche is much kinder to her than he was and always praises her now."
After the death of her son, Queen Victoria described her as having 'wonderful strength of mind and great faith' ...She must have had to put up with being married to Leopold!!

Children: Duchess Louise of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Crownprince Leopold of Belgium, Crownprincess Stephanie of Austria, Princess Clementine Napoleon.

Her only son, Leopold, died at the age of 9. He fell in a pond in the gardens of Laeken Castle and died of the amnesia that followed. After this she has to return to the bed of the King. Their short-lived reconciliation results in another daughter: Clementine. After this the King didn´t hide his contempt for his wife while Marie-Henriette grew more and more cold and distant.

It has been stated that her eldest daughter Princess Louise didn´t have many nice things to say about her Mother.

Though Marie-Henriette preferred the company of horses and dogs, she did care for others. So was she sent to Miramar, to bring Carlota back to Belgium. She was very kind and took responsibility for her. and spent as much time with her as posible. After Carlota was restored to health Marie Henriette, wrote a friend and said "You cannot imagine how beautiful she is now, never so beautiful before". She was as kind as her husband was brutal. She must have had a sad life with him.

Marie-Henriette and Carlota on a church window:

Marie Henriette was one of five children from the marriage of Joseph, archduke of Austria and palatine of Hungary, and Maria Dorothea of Württemberg. Marie Henriette's was the most important union. This is her Mother....

..and her Father.

Henriette was a vivid and energetic person interested in riding. She is said to have had a terrible temperament. The marriage became unhappy and the couple lived more or less separate lives. She became Queen in 1865. After the death of their son in 1869, the couple separated completely after having made a last attempt to have another son, which, however, resulted in their daughter Clementine. She gave her daughters a very strict upbringing. Her main interest was in her Hungarian horses. She lived most of her life unhappy and discontent. In 1895 she retreated to Spa to live out the remainder of her days; her youngest daughter Clementine replaced her as First Lady at the Court in Brussels for the remainder of her husband's life.

Marie Henriette died at the 'Hôtel du Midi in Spa; she had bought the house 1895 after separating with her husband. She was buried in the Royal Crypt at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken in Brussels.

In her later years.

This book was published about Marie Henriette. Sadly it was only published in Dutch and French. Many statements were made about her love a devotion to her animals but from the research I did, only the one photograph (or painting) was found that presented her with any of her animals, that being the first photograph in this post.

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