Thursday, August 2, 2018

Anna of Prussia

The granddaughter of the great Queen Louise who converted to Catholicism in spite of political backlash. From Arrayed in Gold:
In 1852, she met the young Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria when he was on a visit to Berlin. He fell in love with Anna and wanted to marry her. The emperor's mother, Archduchess Sophie, was also quite taken with her, and wrote a letter to her sister, the Queen of Prussia, referring to Franz Joseph's feelings: "...the happiness that showed itself to him like a fleeting dream and made an impression on his heart -- alas -- much stronger and deeper than I had first thought".

As much as Franz Joseph wanted to propose to Anna, she was already engaged to Landgrave Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel. To further add complications, the Prussian court were against an alliance with Austria. The Archduchess Sophie, determined as ever, was hopeful that "this sad marriage, which they are imposing on this charming Anna and which leaves her no prospect of happiness whatsoever, could be prevented". The matchmaking was unsuccessful and Anna married Frederick William on May 26, 1853 at the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin.
The 17 year-old Anna was Frederick William's second wife. He was previously married to Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaievna of Russia, a cousin of Anna on her mother's side, but Alexandra died tragically of tuberculosis shortly after giving birth to her baby. Frederick William lost both his wife and son on the same day and it was a devastating blow for him. It took him a long time to find another wife, but the tragedy of Alexandra's death seemed to have preyed into his mind long after he married Anna. Both he and Anna shared a harmonious married life; both respected each other, but Frederick William never truly got over his loss of Alexandra, and as a result he became emotionally distant towards Anna. Nevertheless, the couple went on to have six children. Anna was considered a fashionable woman who place an utmost care in her appearance. Her splendid figure was flattered by her taste for dresses that have ample skirts and low neckline. 
She was also very interested in music and the arts. She had remarkable talent in playing the piano, having been trained by German composer Theodore Kullak. She was also a great friend of Clara Schumann, Anton Rubinstein and Johannes Brahms; the latter even dedicated a piano quintet for her. Later in her life, Anna converted to Roman Catholicism, much to the chagrin of the Prussian court, especially the Kaiser William II. (Read more.)
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