History - OnThisDay - February 17th. 1861 - Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont

Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont was born on February 17th. 1861 in
Arolsen (now located in Germany).


Her parents were George Victor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and
Princess Helena of Nassau.

She was thus a sister of Emma, Queen Consort of William III of the

Love and Marriage

The sisters, Helena, Emma and Pauline were considered as a
second wife for King William III of the Netherlands,
however Emma became his consort.

Later, Helena met Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany and the youngest son
of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at the suggestion of her mother.

In November 1881, the two became engaged. On April 27th. 1882, Leopold
and Helena married in the St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

After their wedding, the Royal Couple resided at Claremont House.
The couple had a brief, but happy marriage.

Unfortunately, Leopold died of haemophilia after a fall in Cannes France
in March 1884. Then, Helena was pregnant with their second child.

The couple had two children:

- Princess Alice of Albany, later Countess of Athlone
- Prince Charles, Duke of Albany, later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha


Princess Alice of Albany said that her mother was very intelligent
and she had a strong sense of duty too.

Helena liked to go among the people and Queen Victoria soon came
to regard her young daughter-in-law with respect and affection.

In 1899, Helena opened the Albany institute.
During World War I, Helena was involved in several hospital charities.

In 1899, Helena's son the Duke of Albany was selected as the new
heir to the German Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He took
residence there. When the First World War broke out he fought in the
German army. Due to this, he was stripped out of his British titles.

Helena's daughter, Alice, remained in England, through her marriage
she became a sister-in- law of George V's consort, Queen Mary.


Helena died on September 1st. 1922 of a heart attack in Tyrol, Austria.


Through her son she is a great-grandmother of King Carl XVI Gustaf
of Sweden.

Source pictures: Wikipedia

Royal Destinations - Fort Napoleon in Ostend, Belgium

In 1792 and 1793, France had occupied the Austrian Netherlands
(nowadays Belgium), in the Flanders Campaign of the French
Revolutionary Wars.

When the Southern Netherlands were incorporated by the French
Republic, la Grande Armée realized that they need a fort near the
seacoast in Ostend.

Fort Napoleon, Ostend, Belgium, own picture taken in 2012


On February 13th. 1798, Napoleon made his first visit to Ostend.
He thought England would invade the Southern Netherlands and
history proved that Napoleon Bonaparte was right.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Source picture: Wikipedia

As soon as the English heard from this visit, they decided to
act. On May 19th. 1798, a fleet of 37 ships, led by captain
Home Riggs Popham appeared at the coast of Ostend.

The city was heavily bombarded.  English special forces,
led by Major General Eyre Coote landed in the dunes of Bredene.

Captain Arnoud Muscar, his Grenadiers, together with troops
from Nieuwpoort and Bruges, defeated the English.

In 1804, Napoleon visited Ostend for the third time. Instead Ostend,
he was more interested in defending Antwerp.
However on May 20th. 1810, Napoleon ordered to build 3 forts:
1- eastern Ostend called the fort Impérial
2- western Ostend called the fort Royal
3- southern Ostend (which was never built).

Fort Napoleon was used during the French period, but afterwards
it had different functions.

The Convention of London (June 26th. 1814), ruled that Ostend
was a part of the Wellingtonbarrière. Troops from England, Austria,
Russia and Prussia, stayed at Fort Napoleon.

Inside Fort Napoleon, Ostend, Belgium - own picture taken in 2012

Royal Visitors

The fort in Ostend regularly had some important visitors as the
Duke of Wellington (1818 and 1819) and Wilhelm I of Prussia
(1819 and 1829).

Fort Napoleon Walls - Ostend, Belgium - taken in 2012

Belgian independence

From 1830 the Belgian army used the fort, however in 1847, the
Wellingtonbarrière ceased to exist. The Belgian government
decided to build a complex of forts around Antwerp, Liège and

Inside Fort Napoleon 

World War I

During the First World War, Fort Napoleon was used again by
the Germans for their coastal protection.

On July 25th. 1916, the fort had an important visitor:
Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

On May 28th. 1917, Paul von Hindenburg visited
Fort Napoleon.

Inside Fort Napoleon

World War II

In the second World War the German army used this fort
again. In 1944, Fort Napoleon was plundered by the
people of Ostend.

Inside Fort Napoleon

Protected Monument

On July 6th. 1976, Fort Napoleon and the dunes around
became a protected monument.

In 1995, Fort Napoleon came into the care of
Erfgoed Vlaanderen VZW (the Flemish Heritage Association).

On April 7th. 2000, Fort Napoleon was opened for the
public. Nowadays it is a museum.

This Fort Napoleon really is worth to visit, not only due to its history but
also due to the amazing view on top of Fort Napoleon. Besides that, it
wouldn't be Belgium if there wasn't a great place to eat  :-)  

View at Ostend, picture taken on top of Fort Napoleon