Friday, October 7, 2022

Thyra of Denmark

Sister of both the Queen of England and the Empress of Russia. From Crowns, Tiaras and Coronets:

On November 15, 1863, the ten year-old Thyra became the daughter of the sovereign of Denmark when her father succeeded to the throne as King Christian IX. Unlike the majority of her siblings, Thyra spent her young adulthood bring raised as a proper royal princess in the official residence of the Danish royal family – the extensive Amalienborg Palace. In the same year that Thyra’s father was crowned, her eldest sister, Alexandra, left home for England to marry Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, and her older brother, Wilhelm, was elected as the new King of Greece under the name of George I. Three years after this eventful period, another of Thyra’s siblings – Dagmar – moved to her new home of Russia when she married Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich. Eventually, Thyra herself reached a marriage age and her ambitious mother began to search for a suitable royal spouse for her youngest daughter. Thyra was a worthy prospect, for not only was she a beautiful and kindhearted young woman with dark hair and deep blue eyes but she was also the daughter of a king. But in 1871, marital plans for young Thyra came to an abrupt standstill when her family discovered that she had fallen in love with a commoner…and that she was pregnant with his illegitimate child.

Sometime before the year of 1871, Queen Louise had noticed that her seventeen year-old daughter had become attracted to a Danish cavalry officer named Vilhelm Frimann Marcher. Initially, Thyra’s mother had done nothing to stop the flirtation because she believed it to be a meaningless teenage crush that would soon evaporate without any outside pressure. But Thyra’s parents were in for a surprise when they discovered in the summer of 1871 that their seemingly innocent daughter was having a passionate affair with Marcher and that she was pregnant with his child. Thyra’s family quickly concealed their pregnant daughter and the truth of the scandal from anyone outside the immediate family because they feared that if news leaked out it could destroy her reputation and any chance of a high-standing marriage. While the media was told that the Princess’s sudden absence from court was because she was sick with jaundice, in reality, plans were made for her to travel to her brother’s kingdom of Greece where she could give birth in secret. On November 8, 1871 in Athens (or Glücksburg Castle, as it is also said that she possibly went to her father’s home in Germany to have her child), the eighteen year-old Thyra produced a healthy baby girl named Maria. Not long after the birth, the illegitimate infant was taken away from her young mother to be adopted by a Danish couple in Odense. She was renamed Kate and lived a normal life with her adopted family. In 1902, she married a man named Frode Pløyen-Holstein and died in 1964 at the age of ninety-three. It is said that Marcher was deeply upset about losing his royal lover and their child but when he asked Christian IX for Thyra’s hand in marriage in an attempt to regain Thyra and the little Maria, the King refused because Marcher was a less than worthy bride of a royal princess. Allegedly, not long after Maria’s birth and adoption, Marcher had a heated verbal confrontation with the King that seems to have shattered the officer completely. On January 4, 1872, Marcher committed suicide, most likely out of grief and anger over the loss of Thyra and the daughter he was never able to meet. (Read more.)

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