March 22: Today in Royal History

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Wilhelm I, German Emperor, King of Prussia; Credit – Wikipedia

March 22, 1421 – Death of Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, son of King Henry IV of England, at the Battle of Baugé in France; buried at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, England
In 1411, Thomas married Margaret Holland, the daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Alice FitzAlan but the couple had no children. Thomas accompanied his brother King Henry V on his campaigns in France during the Hundred Years’ War. He commanded the English army at the Siege of Rouen in 1418 which ended in Rouen’s capture by the English. On March 22, 1421, Thomas, aged 33, was killed at the Battle of Baugé in Anjou, France.
Unofficial Royalty: Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence

March 22, 1759– Birth of Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp, Queen of Sweden, wife of King Carl XIII of Sweden, in Eutin, Duchy of Oldenburg now in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
In 1774, Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte married the future King Carl XIII of Sweden. Their marriage was distant and both Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte and Carl had extramarital affairs. Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte had two children – one stillborn and one who lived only six days. Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte was known for her invaluable diary which described the Swedish royal court from 1775-1817.  It was written in the form of unsent letters to her friend Countess Sophie von Fersen. The letters are an important source for historical research. Besides dealing with gossip and social events of the court, Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte also wrote about the French Revolution, the assassination of her husband’s brother King Gustav III, the Napoleonic Wars, and the deposing of her husband’s nephew Gustav IV Adolf which caused her husband to become King of Sweden. After her husband’s death in February 1818, Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte said she would not be able to survive without him. On June 20, 1818, after a private dinner with the new King Carl XIV Johan, she went to her room to write, fainted, and died at the age of 59.
Unofficial Royalty: Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp, Queen of Sweden

March 22, 1797 – Birth of Wilhelm I, German Emperor, King of Prussia at the Crown Prince’s Palace in Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia now in Brandenburg, Germany
Full name: Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig
In 1829, Wilhelm married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar and the couple had two children. Wilhelm became King of Prussia in 1861 upon the death of his childless brother King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. During Wilhelm I’s reign as King of Prussia, the work of Otto von Bismarck, Prussian Prime Minister resulted in the unification of Germany and Bismarck then served as Chancellor of the German Empire.  In 1867, the North German Confederation was created.  It was a constitutional monarchy with the Prussian king as the head of state. After the Franco-Prussian War, on  January 18, 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France, Wilhelm was proclaimed German Emperor (Kaiser). Wilhelm I was succeeded by his son Friedrich III, husband of Victoria, Princess Royal.  Already ill with throat cancer, Frederick reigned only three months and was succeeded by his son Wilhelm II. 1888 is known as the “year of the three emperors.”
Unofficial Royalty: Wilhelm I, German Emperor, King of Prussia

March 22, 1837 – Birth of Virginia Oldoïni, Countess of Castiglione, mistress of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, in Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, now in Italy
Virginia Oldoïni, Countess of Castiglione was the mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France from 1856-1857. Virginia’s affair with the Emperor ended in 1857, and she returned to Italy. Four years later, the Kingdom of Italy was established, and Virginia maintained that her influence had, in part, contributed to the unification. By 1861, she had moved to France where she settled in Passy before returning to Paris. By then a very wealthy woman, she devoted much of her time and fortune to her newfound passion, photography. She died at the age of 62.
Unofficial Royalty: Virginia Oldoïni, Countess of Castiglione, Mistress of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French

March 22, 1955 – Death of Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg at Schloss Fröhliche Wiederkunft in Trockenborn-Wolfersdorf, then in East Germany, now in Thuringia, Germany; buried in the Ducal Cemetery in Trockenborn-Wolfersdorf
In 1898, Ernst married Princess Adelheid of Schaumburg-Lippe and the couple had four children. Ernst became Duke of Saxe-Altenburg following his uncle’s death in 1908. He was a popular ruler who made efforts to be close to his subjects. He would hold audiences for any and all who wanted to meet with him. He also pursued his interests in science and technology, opening an airfield in 1911, and owning one of the first cars in the duchy. Ernst was the last reigning Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, abdicating on November 13, 1918, following the end of World War I. He was the only former German ruler who was a citizen of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and the last surviving sovereign from the German Empire. The East German government expropriated his beloved Schloss Fröhliche Wiederkunft in 1946, but Ernst was given the use of the residence for the remainder of his life. At the age of 83, Ernst died at Schloss Fröhliche Wiederkunft on March 22, 1955.
Unofficial Royalty: Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg

March 22, 1956 – Birth of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, wife of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, born Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista in Havana, Cuba
Born in Cuba, Maria Teresa grew up in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland. While attending the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, she first met her future husband, then Hereditary Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. The couple married in 1981 and have five children.
Unofficial Royalty: Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

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