Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (20 July 1835 – 25 January 1900) was Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein, a niece of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, a cousin of King Edward VII, and the mother-in-law of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. She is a matrilineal (mother to daughter) ancestor of Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Felipe VI of Spain.
20 July 1835
25 January 1900 (aged 64)
Duke of Schleswig-Holstein
1 Prince Friedrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
2 Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
3 Princess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
4 Prince Gerhard of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
5 Ernst Gunther, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein
6 Princess Louise Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
7 Princess Feodora Adelheid of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
Princess of Leiningen
Adelheid was born the second daughter of Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg by his wife Princess Feodora of Leiningen, who was the older, maternal half-sister of the British Queen Victoria. In 1852, not long after Napoléon III became Emperor of France, he made a proposal of marriage to Adelheid’s parents. Although he had never met her, the political advantages were obvious. It would provide dynastic respectability for the Bonaparte line, and could promote a closer alliance between France and Britain, because Adelheid was Queen Victoria’s niece. At the same time, she was not officially a member of the British royal family, so the risk of refusal was small.
As it turned out, the proposal horrified Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who preferred not to confer such hasty legitimacy upon France’s latest “revolutionary” regime — the durability of which was deemed dubious — nor to yield up a young kinswoman for the purpose.” The British court maintained a strict silence toward the Hohenlohes during the marriage negotiations, lest the Queen seem either eager for or repulsed by the prospect of Napoléon as a nephew-in-law. The parents, accurately interpreting the British silence as disapproval, declined the French offer to their sixteen-year-old daughter’s dismay. This may have been only a maneuver by the Hohenlohes to obtain concessions from the French to secure their daughter’s future interests. But before his ministers could press his case with further inducements, Napoléon gave up pursuit of a royal consort.
On September 11, 1856 Adelheid married Frederick VIII, of Schleswig-Holstein. With her husband, the Duchess first resided at Dolzig, in Nieder Lausitz, but in 1863 moved to Kiel when Duke Frederick became legitimate heir to the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein. They returned to Dolzig only three years later, when after the Austrian-Prussian War the duchies were annexed by Prussia.
In the following years the couple alternated between Dolzig, Gotha, and the family domains at Holborn. Duke Frederick died in 1880, shortly before the couple’s eldest daughter was engaged to the Prussian heir. After the marriage in February 1881, Duchess Adelheid settled in Dresden, where she lived a retired life, interesting herself chiefly in painting and music. The Duchess died at Dresden on 25 January 1900
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