Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine

Full name: Marie Viktoria Feodore Leopoldine

Born: 24 May 1874, New Palace, Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire

Daughter of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

Died: 16 November 1878, New Palace, Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire

Buried: Neues Mausoleum Rosenhöhe Park, Darmstadt

Princess Marie was the youngest child of Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria. The year before she was born, her brother Friedrich ‘Frittie’ died tragically of a fall from a window. He was born with the dreaded family ailment of haemophilia which prevents the blood from clotting. The birth of Marie or ‘May’ as she was known to her family, brought great joy to all, especially her brother Ernest who was 6 years elder than her. She was described by her mother in letters to be fair skinned with light brown hair and blue eyes. Marie shared the nursery with her sister Alix who was two years older and the pair were inseparable, going everywhere together and dressing alike.

Marie with her sister Irene and Alix and her brother Ernest

In early November 1878 diphtheria hit the Hesse and by Rhine family. This disease was common in the 19th century and symptoms began with a sore throat and high temperature but can quickly escalate to preventing the infected from breathing. Marie’s eldest sister, 15-year-old Victoria was the first to fall ill, followed by Alix. Soon after the whole family were unwell, all except 14-year old Elisabeth who had been sent to stay with her paternal grandparents before being exposed to the disease. Little Marie suffered badly and Princess Alice nursed her alongside the a team of doctors, however on the morning of 16the November, Marie chocked to death. Her mother was so sad, and the rest of the family still so ill that she delayed informing them of Marie’s death for several weeks.

Sadly tragedy hit the family again, as as succumbed to the disease, dying on 14th December, exactly 17 years since her father Prince Albert had died. Marie was buried alongside her mother in the family mausoleum in Darmstadt. Marie’s closest sister Alix named one of her daughters Marie, suggested to be after her little sister.

Princess Marie with her sister Alix

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