Thursday, October 28, 2010

Claremont House


As a follow-up to yesterday's post on the romance of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, here is an article on Claremont Park, their home in Surrey. After Charlotte's death, Leopold continued to live at Claremont until he became Belgium's first king. He retained control of the estate, however, for the rest of his life. After the 1848 Revolution in France, Leopold placed Claremont at the disposition of his exiled parents-in-law, the former King and Queen of the French, Louis-Philippe and Marie-Amélie.

In his Vie de Louise d'Orléans, Reine des Belges (1851), Paul Roger tells a touching anecdote of the filial piety and selflessness of Leopold's second wife, Louise-Marie, the daughter of Louis-Philippe and Marie-Amélie. A mysterious malady was ravaging the Orléans colony at Claremont, already an ill-omened place, due to Princess Charlotte's tragic death in childbed at this once happy scene of conjugal bliss. Louise-Marie, herself in delicate health, insisted on visiting and taking care of her ailing relatives, refusing to leave their bedside, despite the dangers of exhaustion and infection. A friend tried to persuade the Belgian queen to be more careful to avoid over-exerting herself, but she answered bravely: "We live in hard times...we must be able to suffer and think only of those dear to us!"

6 comments:

Christina said...

Thank you for another beautiful and interesting post with beautiful pictures.
It saddens me a little to think how devoted those kind royalties (like Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, and her daughter Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia) were to suffering and martyrdom. They seemed so sure that the only route to holiness involved a lot of duty, self-sacrifice and suffering...and so they too suffered in the end.
Your blog is very lovely - thank you!

Matterhorn said...

Thank you for the kind comment.

However, I'm not sure these people valued suffering in itself, I suspect it is more that they thought it was important to meet suffering (which inevitably occurred in their often difficult and turbulent lives) with courage and faith.

For instance, a princess I have posted on before, Madame Elisabeth of France, wrote several times in her letters during the French Revolution that she "had no attraction to martyrdom." (paraphrased). Yet she felt she had to remain in France, despite the dangers, in order to support her brother and his family, as she considered to be the right thing to do. If this meant martyrdom, she was willing to face it. But beforehand, she had lived quite a pleasant (if moderate and discreet) life at her country house at Montreuil, doing good works and praying a great deal, but certainly not torturing herself with unnecessary penances. So I don't think she courted suffering, and I doubt these other royal ladies did, either.

Matterhorn said...

And Queen Louise-Marie herself loved dances, fashion and costume balls- the brilliant receptions at the court of Brussels were famous in her time. So she certainly had a joyful and light-hearted side to her.

Christina said...

I greatly appreciate what you have written and there is so much to write in reply that it would make a very long comment. I trust you will not mind if I write a blog post, inspired by what you have said and quoting from your fascinating post. (If you object, I will remove my post :-) ).

Matterhorn said...

Please feel free to write and quote as you feel inspired to do.

Christina said...

Thank you :-)