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British RoyalsHistory

Princesses who married commoners: Princess Frederica of Hanover

Princess Frederica was born into the House of Hanover in 1848. Her parents were George, Crown Prince of Hanover and his wife, Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenberg. The Princess was also addressed as ‘Her Highness’ when in the United Kingdom due to her descent from King George III.

In 1851, Frederica’s father became King George V of Hanover which made Frederica an eligible bride.
When Frederica was eighteen, Otto von Bismark, the Prussian Prime Minister, contacted Hanover about a possible marriage match for the Princess. The proposed groom was Prince Albrecht of Prussia. This plan fell through, however, when the Austro-Prussian war broke out months later. King George V sided with Austria which led to the annexation of Hanover by Prussia. King George V was deposed, and despite pleading with his cousin, King William I of Prussia, he never regained his throne and lived out his life in exile.

Princess Frederica was forced into exile with her family after her father’s deposition, and the family eventually made their home at the Schloss Cumberland in Austria. From here the Princess made regular trips to England. Her father passed away in 1878.

Frederica had two further suitors for her hand in marriage; Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany who was her second cousin and the youngest of Queen Victoria’s sons and also Alexander, the Prince of Orange. Rather than marrying one of these powerful men, Frederica went with her heart and married a man she was in love with, Baron Alfons von Pawel-Rammingen. Alfons worked as a government official, but Frederica knew him from when he served as her father’s equerry. The pair married in 1880 after Alfons was created a British citizen. The wedding took place at Windsor Castle, and poet Tennyson wrote a verse to honour it which mentioned Frederica’s relationship with her father who had been blind. He alluded to the fact that her father was watching the wedding from Heaven ‘the blind king sees you today’.

The couple settled into an apartment in Hampton Court Palace, where they had one daughter named Victoria who sadly passed away after only a few weeks. The pair were part of London society and visited Osborne House and Windsor Castle frequently. Frederica devoted much of her life to charitable causes, supporting charities for the blind, poor mothers and animals. She also opened the Princess Frederica School in 1889 as part of her patronage of the Church Extension Association.

In 1898 Frederica and Alfons moved out of their Hampton Court apartment. The pair then began to live in Biarritz in France for most of the year but still spent some time in England. It was in Biarritz that Frederica died in 1926; her remains were returned to England, and she was interred in St George’s Chapel, Windsor where her wedding had taken place over four decades earlier. Alfons died in 1932.