Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen (1879-1945)

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– Feodora

Early Life

Feodora Victoria Auguste Marie Marianne was born in Potsdam on 12 May 1879 and was the only child of Charlotte of Prussia and Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen.

Feodora was the first grandchild of Frederick III, German Emperor, and Victoria, Princess Royal which also made her the first great-grandchild of Queen Victoria.

Feodora’s mother had hated being pregnant as it had restricted her social life so after her daughter’s birth, Charlotte had declared there would be no more children. Charlotte often left her daughter with her grandmother while she travelled and Vicky had grave concerns for her Feodora’s wellbeing as the child was underweight and her mental development was delayed. Vicky tried to engage her granddaughter in education but Feodora showed little interest and Vicky began to blame her parents for being negligent. However, Feodora was showing similar symptoms to the problems her mother had endured during childhood and was almost certainly suffering from porphyria.

Later Life

As Feodora grow into adulthood she was determined to get away from her mother and the easiest way to do that was by marrying. After returning from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897, Feodora became engaged to Prince Heinrich XXX of Reuss and they married at Breslau on 26 September 1898. Vicky was initially dismayed by the marriage as Heinrich was fifteen years older and far from wealthy but Feodora seemed happy so Vicky had high hopes. Feodora longed to have a child but she failed to conceive even after undergoing several surgical procedures.

Feodora suffered from ill-health throughout her life and when she was unable to attend Queen Victoria’s funeral in 1901, Charlotte spread malicious rumours her daughter was suffering from a venereal disease which infuriated Feodora. In 1903, Feodora and Heinrich moved to Flensburg in Schleswig-Holstein and the mild climate seemed to improve Feodora’s health so she began taking arsenic and thorium, a radioactive metallic element, believing they would improve her chances of conceiving. Needless to say, the toxic combination weakened Feodora’s health further and Heinrich began to lose patience with his wife’s endless illnesses.

During the First World War, Feodora occupied herself by opening a small hospital for wounded soldiers while Heinrich served at the front. Most of the records pertaining to Feodora have been lost so there isn’t much information available on her activities after the war but she spent her final years at the Sanatorium Buchwald-Hohenwiese, Silesia. On 26 August 1945, Feodora, suffering from severe depression and tired of the constant battles with ill-health, committed suicide.

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