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April 24, 1533 – Birth of Willem I of Orange-Nassau (the Silent), Prince of Orange, at Dillenburg Castle, then in the County of Nassau-Dillenburg in the Holy Roman Empire, now in Hesse, Germany
In the Netherlands, Willem I (the Silent), Prince of Orange is known as the Vader des Vaderlands (Father of the Fatherland), and the Dutch national anthem, the Wilhelmus, was written in his honor. He got his nickname “the Silent” (in Dutch De Zwijger) not because he was quiet, but because of his habit to hold his tongue in difficult situations. Willem is the founder of the House of Orange-Nassau and the ancestor of the Dutch monarchs, the British monarchs from King George I forward, and other European royal families.
Unofficial Royalty: Willem I, Prince of Orange
April 24, 1608 – Birth of Gaston of France, Duke of Orléans, son of King Henri IV of France, at the Palace of Fontainebleau in France
Gaston, Duke of Orléans could be considered the black sheep of his family. Twice he had to leave France for conspiring against the government of his brother King Louis XIII. When his brother refused to grant permission for Gaston to marry Marguerite of Lorraine after the death of his first wife, Gaston married her anyway and kept the marriage secret. Because of his participation against the government in a series of civil wars, Gaston was exiled to one of his homes for the last seven years of his life.
Unofficial Royalty: Gaston of France, Duke of Orléans
Birth of April 24, 1777 – Birth of Maria Clementina of Austria, Duchess of Calabria, first wife of the future Francesco I, King of the Two Sicilies, at the Villa del Poggio Imperiale in Poggio Imperiale, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, now in Italy
Full name: Maria Clementina Josepha Johanna Fidele
In 1797, Maria Clementina married the future Francesco I, King of the Two Sicilies, and took on the female version of his title at that time, Duchess of Calabria. Maria Clementina and Francesco had two children but she died from tuberculosis on November 15, 1801, aged 24.
Unofficial Royalty: Maria Clementina of Austria, Duchess of Calabria
April 24, 1783 – Death of Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, lover of Catherine II (the Great), Empress of All Russia, at Neskuchnoe, his estate near Moscow, Russia; buried at the Orthodox Church of St. George Monastery in Velikiy Novgorod, Russia
Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov and his four brothers organized the coup d’etat that overthrew the husband of Catherine II the Great, Empress of All Russia (born Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike of Anhalt-Zerbst), and gave her the throne of the Russian Empire. He gave Catherine the famous Orlov Diamond which was used in the scepter of the Romanov rulers and was the father of at least one of Catherine’s children, Alexei Grigorievich Bobrinsky. Catherine and Orlov had a long-time relationship from 1759 – 1774, spanning the time Catherine was a Grand Duchess and Empress.
Unofficial Royalty: Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, lover of Catherine II (the Great), Empress of All Russia
April 24, 1852 – Death of Leopold I, Grand Duke of Baden, in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, now in Baden-Württemberg, Germany; buried in the Karlsruhe Stadtkirche, and after World War II, his remains were moved to the Grand Ducal Chapel in the Pheasant Garden in Karlsruhe
In 1819, Leopold married Princess Sofia of Sweden. The couple had eight children including two Grand Dukes of Baden. Leopold became Grand Duke of Baden in 1830, upon the death of his unmarried brother Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden, and held the throne for just over 22 years.
Unofficial Royalty: Leopold I, Grand Duke of Baden
April 24, 1865 – Death of Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich of Russia, son of Alexander II, Emperor of All Russia, from cerebrospinal meningitis in Nice, France; buried at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
Although Nicholas was born to succeed his father as Emperor of All Russia, it was not to be. He died from cerebrospinal meningitis, the same disease that had claimed the life of his elder sister Alexandra Alexandrovna when she was just six years old. Nicholas had been engaged to marry Princess Dagmar of Denmark, who was at his deathbed. There is an uncorroborated story that shortly before he died, Nicholas clasped together the hands of Dagmar and his brother, the future Alexander III, Emperor of All Russia, begging them to marry. The couple did marry in 1866 and had six children including Nicholas II, the last Emperor of All Russia, who was named in honor of his deceased uncle.
Unofficial Royalty: Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich of Russia
April 24, 1923 – Death of Wilhelm Ernst, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach at Schloss Heinrichau, the family’s estate in Heinrichau, Silesia, now Henryków, Poland; buried in the park at Schloss Heinrichau
From 1897 until 1909, Wilhelm Ernst was the heir presumptive to the Dutch throne. King Willem III of the Netherlands died in 1890, leaving the throne to his ten-year-old daughter Wilhelmina. As a grandson of Princess Sophie of the Netherlands, the younger sister of King Willem III, Wilhelm Ernst was the next person in the line of succession. Wilhelm Ernst was the last Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, abdicating on November 9, 1918. He was stripped of his throne and his properties and forced into exile. He took up residence at Schloss Heinrichau, the family’s estate in Heinrichau, Silesia, now Henryków, Poland, where he died on April 24, 1923, aged 46.
Unofficial Royalty: Wilhelm Ernst, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
April 24, 1981 – Death of Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in Langenburg, Germany; buried in the Hohenlohe-Langenburg family cemetery
Although Margarita and her sisters were not invited to their brother Philip’s wedding due to the strong anti-German sentiment so soon after World War II, she and Philip remained close. In 1950, she was named as one of the godparents of Philip’s daughter, Princess Anne. In 1953, Margarita, her surviving sisters, and their mother were prominent guests at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Margarita’s grandson Philipp, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Head of the House of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, was one of the thirty guests at the funeral of his great-uncle Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
April 24, 1986 – Death of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, wife of The Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, at Villa Windsor in Bois de Boulogne, Paris, France; buried next to her husband at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore in Windsor, England
The Duchess of Windsor survived her husband by fourteen years. Her funeral was held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and was attended by her two surviving sisters-in-law: The Queen Mother and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and also Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Anne, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince and Princess of Wales also attended the burial.
Unofficial Royalty: Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor
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