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Duchess Helen of Mecklenburg-Schwerin: Wikis


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Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Duchess of Orléans
First Princess of the Blood
Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter c.1839
Spouse Ferdinand Philippe d'Orléans
Philippe, Count of Paris
Robert, Duke of Chartres
Full name
German: Helene Luise Elisabeth von Mecklenburg-Schwerin
French: Hélène Louise Élisabeth de Mecklembourg-Schwerin
House House of Orléans
House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Father Frederick Louis, Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mother Karoline Luise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Born 24 January 1814(1814-01-24)
Schloss Ludwigslust, Germany
Died 17 May 1858 (aged 44)
Richmond upon Thames, London, England
Burial Chapelle royale de Dreux

Duchess Helen Louise Elizabeth of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Duchess of Orléans (24 January 1814–17 May 1858) was a Princess of the duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin; after her marriage in 1837 to the eldest son of Louis Philippe I, French Prince, she became and Chartres, was a German duchess who married into the House of Orléans. Her marriage, a powerful alliance for her native Mecklenburg-Schwerin, she was the mother of the future Count of Paris and Duke of Chartres. Her present descendants include the present Count of Paris as well the present-day pretenders to the throne of France and Italy and the kings of Spain and Belgium.




Early life and family

Born at the Schloss Ludwigslust, the retreat from a capital of her native Mecklenburg -Schwerin, she was the only daughter born to the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1778–1819) and his second wife Princess Karoline Luise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1786–1816), third daughter of grand-duke Carl August and princess Louisa of Hessen-Darmstadt.

Via her father she was grand-daughter of Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his wife Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.

She was also a niece of Frederick William III of Prussia. On her paternal side she was a cousin of the Duchess of Kent as well as the Leopold I of Belgium. Maternal cousin's included the then Queen of Prussia[1] as well as the King of Württemberg.

Her father, the eldest son and heir of Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg. Her mother was a princess of the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. The Hereditary Grand Duke and his wife died within three years of each other; Helen's mother died in January 1816; her father then died in 1819 leaving her older half brother Paul Frederick of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1800–1842), the new Hereditary Grand Duke, and her other siblings to be raised by her grandfather, the reigning Grand Duke.


On 30 May 1837 Helene Luise married Ferdinand Philippe d'Orléans at the Palace of Fontainebleau. The Archbishop of Paris, Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen had used the pretext of religious differences to forbid it taking place in Notre Dame de Paris.

Her husband was the eldest son of king Louis Philippe I and his Italian consort, Queen Maria Amalia[2]. For the Duke of Orléans, it was a convenient alliance but one without much attraction - Metternich quipped she was "Petite but of a good house"[3]

Despite Hélène's background of a relativley obscure German Grand Duchy, the marriage was very happy, the two having two children in quick succession. Their eldest Philippe, born at the Palais des Tuileries in Paris, would later be hailed as Louis Philippe II by Royalists. Their other son, Robert, fought for the Union in the American Civil War, and then for France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.

On 13 July 1842, her husband died in the fall of the July Monarchy, thus sparking a debate within the House of Orléans over the setting-up of a regency council that would be necessary due to Louis Philippe's heir still being an infant. The main contenders were Louis Philippe's widow and his brother Louis, Duke of Nemours, but further developments meant that the regency did not in the end materialise.

Hélène died of flu in Richmond; she passed the illness onto her son Robert who was staying with her at the time but he survived and continued to fight in the Wars of Italian Unification.

She was initially buried at Weybridge before being translated to the Chapelle royale de Dreux in Dreux in 1876.



Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 24 January 1814 – 30 May 1837 Her Serene Highness Duchess Helen of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
  • 30 May 1837 – 13 July 1842 Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Orléans
  • 13 July 1842 – 17 May 1858 Her Royal Highness the Dowager Duchess of Orléans

References and notes

  1. ^ Later German Empress as wife Wilhelm I, German Emperor
  2. ^ Born a Princess of Naples and Sicily and daughter of Maria Carolina of Austria
  3. ^ Cited by Guy Antonetti, Op. cit., p. 782


  • (French) Généalogie des rois et des princes, by Jean-Charles Volkmann. Edit Jean-Paul Gisserot (1998)
  • (French) Les Orléans, une famille en quête d'un trône, by Georges Poisson Perrin (1999)
  • (French) Hélène de Mecklembourg-Schwerin; Madame la duchesse d'Orléans; New edition. Paris: Michel Lévy (1859)

External links

See also


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