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Wednesday 3 December 2008

The Dashing Prince of Battenberg

The Princes of Battenberg were among the most handsome princes in Europe - and none was more dashing that 'Sandro' (Alexander), who, at the recommendation of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, was briefly appointed as the Sovereign Prince of the newly-autonomous Bulgaria.
Moretta fell head-over-heels in love with Sandro and, during a visit to Potsdam, he reciprocated her feelings but - alas! - in the eyes of the proud Prussian court, Sandro, whose mother was a 'commoner' (albeit a brilliant one!) was not of sufficiently royal blood to become the husband of a daughter and sister of a future Kaiser.
For seven years, fluctuating between despair and hope, Moretta prayed that they would be allowed to marry but, the death of Sandro's advocate, Tsar Alexander II, and the turmoil in Bulgaria only added to the intransigence of the Prussian Court. It mattered not that Sandro's brothers had married a daughter and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Sandro was ousted from Bulgaria and, returning to Darmstadt, married an opera singer.
The death of Moretta's beloved father increased her despair, and, in her depression she decided he was 'too ugly' and 'too fat' to ever find a husband and embarked upon a drastic diet, bordering on anorexia. It was left to Queen Victoria to take her in hand, inviting her to England in the summer of 1889, with a view to restoring her to health.
And now, another Sando was suggested as a possible husband - the Russian Grand Duke Sandro Mikhailovich.
"I am thinking a great deal about this 'sailor-boy'," Moretta wrote to her mother, "I wonder if anything will come of it - perhaps by the time we meet, I shall know something.".....

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