Today in History - October 17th. 1853 - Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia

On October 17th. 1853 a girl was born at Tsarskoye Selo in St. Petersburg.
This girl received the name and title Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna
of Russia.

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia
Source picture: Wikipedia

Her parents were Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Marie of Hesse and by Rhine.
This made her an aunt of Tsar Nicholas II (last Tsar of Imperial Russia).

In 1871, Grand Duchess Maria was introduced to Prince Alfred, 
Duke of Edinburgh and second son of Queen Victoria, during a family holiday 
in Denmark.

On January 23rd. 1874 Maria and Alfred married at the Winter Palace in
St.Petersburg. 

They would have 6 children. Their eldest daughter Marie (Missy in the family) 
married later King Ferdinand I of Romania.

On March 12th. 1874 the new couple arrived in London where they made their
public entry in the Society. However the bride wasn't popular. 
First of all a large discussion took place between Queen Victoria and 
Tsar Alexander II of Russia about the title of Grand Duchess Maria.
Finally the Queen decided the style Maria 'Her Royal Highness' which
was lower than her former title 'Her Imperial Highness'. This was due
to the Princess of Wales who was the première dame after Queen Victoria.

Besides the lower titel, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna didn't get on
with Queen Victoria. To provoke the Queen, Grand Duchess Maria wore a lot 
of  jewels. She also didn't like the English weather.

On August 22nd. 1893, Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha died. He
was Alfred's uncle and the duchy fell vacant. Alfred became the next duke
and Maria Alexandrovna became Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Alfred & Marie and their son - Source picture: Wikipedia

When World War I broke out in August 1914 nobody could imagine that
there would be a lot of changes not only in Germany but also in Russia.
At the end of the war the duchies Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha were
abolished.

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia moved to Zurich in
Switzerland to avoid the post-war German hostility to Russians.

There she died on October 24th. 1920. She was buried in the Ducal Families
cemetery outside Coburg. Marie, Queen of Romania, was forbidden to travel
to Germany to attend her funeral (Germany and Romania had fought on
opposite sides in World War I).

Quotes of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia:

Revolutions existed in history, books were written about them and lectures given: 
they were complicated phenomena, scientific, remote.
While here, the riot of a week ago had turned out to be a real revolution and
the shadow of death actually threatened all of us who were of the ruling cast.
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