The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Princess of Saxe-Weimar

Princess of Saxe-Weimar

Identified verso and in the Silvy daybooks as ‘Princesse de Saxe-Weimar’, this is probably Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

Born Lady Augusta Catherine Gordon-Lennox at Goodwood on 14 January 1827, she was the daughter of the 5th Duke of Richmond and his wife, Lady Caroline Paget. She married in London on 27 November 27 1851, His Highness Prince Wilhelm August Eduard (Edward) of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

Prince Edward had been born at Bushey Park on 11 October 1823, the son of Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar by his wife, Princess Ida of Saxe-Meiningen. Princess Ida was the sister of Queen Adelaide, the Consort of King William IV. Having no children themselves, William and Adelaide brought up Edward as if her were their own son and he was, therefore, effectively regarded as a first-cousin to Queen Victoria.

Although Augusta was the daughter of a Duke who was one of the richest landowners in Britain, the match was not regarded as an equal one by Prince Edward's German family. The Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar (Edward's uncle) strictly observed the rules of marriage and the concept of ebenbürtigkeit (equality of birth), which stated that members of reigning families could only marry amongst themselves. Consequently, the marriage was morganatic and the Grand Duke conferred the title of Countess von Dornburg on Lady Augusta the day before the marriage. Queen Victoria regarded this as absurd and decreed that, in Britain, Augusta should be styled Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar.

However, she was only styled ‘Princess’ in Britain from 1866 and this portrait clearly dates from before that year. Although not officially styled ‘Princess’ at this date, however, Countess Dornburg was probably popularly known by that title.

Prince Edward died in London on 16 November 1902. Princess Edward died in London, aged 77, of pneumonia on 3 April 1904. They had no children.

Photographed in 1860 by Camille Silvy of London.

Code: 123834
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