Unrequited Love

Friederike Amalia Wilhelmine Viktoria was born at Potsdam Palace on 12 April 1866 and was the second daughter of Friedrich III, German Emperor, and Victoria, Princess Royal.

Known in the family as Moretta, Viktoria was raised in the English way and was the oldest of the three daughters, including Sophia and Margarethe, who were the closest to their mother. The older three children, Wilhelm, Charlotte and Heinrich, had become estranged from their parents, and the attention lavished on the younger three daughters only increased the animosity.

In 1881, Viktoria’s mother invited Alexander of Battenberg to the Prussian court to meet her daughter as she had earmarked the young prince as a possible match for Viktoria. Alexander was handsome and dashing so it was hardly surprising Viktoria obliged her parents by falling in love with him, however her grandfather, Emperor Wilhelm I, Empress Augusta and Otto von Bismarck, all opposed the match as they were afraid the Russians would not approve. Alexander had been selected as the sovereign Prince of Bulgaria and his current actions were causing a great deal of animosity in Russia. After a great deal of arguing, Viktoria’s parents abandoned the notion of a wedding and the young princess was left heartbroken.

Viktoria refused to give up hope of marrying Alexander one day, especially since she knew her grandfather was ailing and her parents would eventually be in a position to make the marriage a possibility. However, Viktoria’s father was already dying of throat cancer and his reign would be a short one. Before his death, Friedrich had left instructions for the marriage between Viktoria and Alexander to go ahead, however Wilhelm wrote to Alexander and told him there would be no marriage. Alexander returned all of Viktoria’s letters and the princess was devastated all over again.

A Loveless Marriage

Viktoria’s mother promised her daughter a suitable groom would be found but Viktoria wasn’t considered attractive and there were no willing candidates. In June 1890, Viktoria accompanied her mother and sister, Margarethe, on a visit to their cousin Marie of Nassau where she met Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe. After spending some time together, Adolf proposed. While Vicky liked the young man, she wasn’t convinced he was suitable for her daughter and even less convinced her daughter was in love with him. Vicky continued to propose other candidates but the Emperor liked Adolf and the engagement was announced.

Viktoria and Adolf were married on 19 November 1890 but Vicky continued to be concerned about her daughter’s depressive state in the lead up to the wedding. The wedding party consisted of six guests who were mainly part of Viktoria’s extended family and the toast was given by her brother, Wilhelm. The bride wore a cream satin wedding gown trimmed with wild roses and a veil of tulle interwoven with orange blossoms and myrtle. The newlyweds went on a long honeymoon throughout the Mediterranean and stopped in Greece to visit Viktoria’s sister, Sophia, who had married Crown Prince Constantine of Greece. While in Greece, Viktoria discovered she was pregnant but it ended in a miscarriage and she did not conceive again.

Viktoria and Adolf lived in the Palais Schaumburg in Bonn, however Viktoria spent a lot of time alone while Adolf was busy with his military duties. Viktoria tried to keep herself occupied with decorating and gardening but she grew increasingly lonely. In 1895, Adolf became regent for Alexander, Prince of Lippe, who was mentally handicapped. The couple stayed there for two years and Viktoria enjoyed her new responsibilities as the regent’s wife.

The next few years were tough on Viktoria as her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1898 and Viktoria and her sisters rallied around her. The Dowager Empress died in August 1901, just a few months after the death of her mother, Queen Victoria. The First World War was also a deeply distressing time for Viktoria as she watched her family being torn apart by divided loyalties and she was widowed when Adolf died on 9 July 1916.

On 19 November 1927, Viktoria married Alexander Zoubkoff, a Russian refugee, against the advice of her siblings. Zoubkoff was 35 years younger than the princess who had become increasingly vulnerable and he wasted no time in squandering the meagre fortune she possessed. Bankrupt, Viktoria had to sell the contents of the Schaumburg Palace at auction to pay her creditors, however there was little interest and the auction proceeds only paid one-third of the debts. After the auction, Viktoria moved into a single furnished room in the Bonn suburb of Mehlem where she started divorce proceedings but she died of pneumonia on 13 November 1929 before the matter could be resolved. Having never gotten the chance to reconcile with her family, Viktoria was buried in the Schlosshotel Kronberg in Taunus, Hesse.