|Princess Marie Louise|
Early in her life, Marie Louise never lacked suitors and the prospects of her becoming queen of a foreign land were most likely. Fair, slim and graceful, Marie Louise was gifted with sparkling blue eyes.
She had already caught the unwelcome attention of Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, but in 1889, while Marie Louise went to Berlin to attend the wedding of her cousin, Princess Victoria of Prussia, she fell head over heels to the tall and handsome Prince Aribert of Anhalt. Bored by the endless torch dance, and thrilled by Aribert’s attention, Marie Louise became infatuated with the dashing German prince.
“He was very tall and good-looking, and a very striking personality,” she recalled, “and I suppose to a young girl of eighteen, he was the beau ideal of a cavalry officer. I have no hesitation in saying that I fell completely under his charm - in others words, fell in love. He paid me a good deal of attention which both flattered and bewildered me.”
Her cousin, Kaiser William II, fueled her feelings and was instrumental in realizing the romance. It remains unknown if Marie Louise was truly bewildered by her feelings, but right there and then, she knew Aribert was the man she would marry. Within a week of their meeting Vicky was writing to the Queen: “I think it would be a very nice marriage. Aribert is a nice and amiable young man and one may hope that it would be for both their happiness.”
Born in 1866, Prince Aribert was the fourth son of Frederick I, Duke of Anhalt and Princess Antoinette of Saxe Altenburg. Though Queen Victoria was dubious at the speed of the romance, Marie Louise’s parents approved of the match. Their engagement was announced on ‘a very cold snowy day’ in December 1890 at the Kaiser’s palace in Potsdam. From there, they spent three hours on the road to Anhalt, where a nervous Marie Louise was to officially introduced to Aribert’s family.
“I loved my mother-in-law from the first moment,” she wrote later. “My father-in-law was rather frightening, but I soon found out he was a dear, kindly but not very intelligent old gentleman.”