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Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
|Princess Mary Adelaide|
|Duchess of Teck|
Mary Adelaide in 1885
|Born||27 November 1833
Hanover, German Confederation
|Died||27 October 1897(1897-10-27) (aged 63)
White Lodge, Richmond Park, London, England
|Burial||3 November 1897
( m. 1866)
|Issue||Mary, Queen of the United Kingdom
Adolphus Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge
Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone
|Father||Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge|
|Mother||Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel|
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth; 27 November 1833 – 27 October 1897) was a member of the British royal family, a granddaughter of George III, grandmother of Edward VIII and George VI and great grandmother of Elizabeth II. She held the title of Duchess of Teck through marriage.
Mary Adelaide was born on 27 November 1833 in Hanover, German Confederation. Her father was Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the youngest surviving son of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her mother was Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, the daughter of Prince Frederick of Hesse-Cassel. As a male-line granddaughter of a British monarch, she was styled as a British princess with the prefix of Royal Highness.
The young princess was baptized on 9 January 1834 at Cambridge House, Hanover, by Rev John Ryle Wood, Chaplain to the Duke of Cambridge. Her godmother and paternal aunt Princess Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg, was the only godparent who was present. The others were William IV and Queen Adelaide (her paternal uncle and aunt), Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh (her paternal aunt), Princess Marie of Hesse-Cassel (her maternal aunt) and Princess Marie Luise Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel (her maternal first cousin). She was named Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth for her aunts and uncle.
After the death of William IV, Mary Adelaide's first cousin, Princess Victoria of Kent ascended the throne in 1837. However, Salic law prevented Victoria from ascending the throne of Hanover, which instead passed to Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. Thus, the personal union which had existed for over a century between Britain and Hanover came to an end along with the arrangement of Hanover's ruler living in England as the British monarch and using a viceroy to represent him in Hanover. The Duke of Cumberland moved to Hanover as King and Mary Adelaide's father, no longer needed in Hanover, returned to London with his family, setting up residence in Kensington Palace.
By the age of 30, Mary Adelaide was still unmarried. Her large girth (earning her the disparaging epithet of "Fat Mary") and lack of income were contributing factors, as was her advanced age. However, her royal rank prevented her from marrying someone not of royal blood. Her cousin, Queen Victoria, took pity on her and attempted to arrange pairings.
Eventually a suitable candidate was found in Württemberg, Prince Francis of Teck. The Prince was of lower rank than Mary Adelaide, was the product of a morganatic marriage and had no succession rights to the throne of Württemberg, but was at least of princely title and of royal blood. With no other options available, Mary Adelaide decided to marry him. The couple were married on 12 June 1866 at St. Anne's Church, Kew, Surrey.
The Duke and Duchess of Teck chose to reside in London rather than abroad, mainly because Mary Adelaide received £5,000 per annum as a Parliamentary annuity and carried out royal duties. Her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, also provided her with supplementary income. Requests to Queen Victoria for extra funds were generally refused; however, the queen did provide the Tecks with apartments at Kensington Palace and White Lodge in Richmond Park as a country house.
Mary Adelaide requested that her new husband be granted the style Royal Highness, but this was refused by Queen Victoria. The queen did, however, promote Francis to the rank of Highness in 1887 in celebration of her Golden Jubilee.
The Tecks had one daughter and three sons:
|Princess Victoria Mary of Teck||26 May 1867||24 March 1953||married 1893, Prince George, Duke of York (later George V); had issue|
|Prince Adolphus of Teck||13 August 1868||23 October 1927||later Duke of Teck and Marquess of Cambridge
married 1894, Lady Margaret Evelyn Grosvenor; had issue
|Prince Francis of Teck||9 January 1870||22 October 1910||No issue.|
|Prince Alexander of Teck||14 April 1874||16 January 1957||later Earl of Athlone
married 1904, Princess Alice of Albany; had issue
Despite their modest income, Mary Adelaide had expensive tastes and lived an extravagant life of parties, expensive food and clothes and holidays abroad. In 1883 they were forced to live more cheaply abroad to reduce their debts. They travelled to Florence, Italy, and also stayed with relatives in Germany and Austria. Initially, they travelled under the names of the Count and Countess von Hohenstein. However, Mary Adelaide wished to travel in more style and reverted to her royal style, which commanded significantly more attention and better service.
Later life and death
The Tecks returned from their self-imposed exile in 1885 and continued to live at Kensington Palace and White Lodge in Richmond Park. Mary Adelaide began devoting her life to charity, serving as patron to Barnardo's and other children's charities.
In 1891, Mary Adelaide was keen for her daughter, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (known as "May") to marry one of the sons of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII. At the same time, Queen Victoria wanted a British-born bride for the future king, though of course one of royal rank and ancestry, and Mary Adelaide's daughter fulfilled the rank criteria. After Queen Victoria's approval, May became engaged to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, second in line to the British throne. He died suddenly six weeks later. Queen Victoria was fond of Princess Mary and persuaded the Duke of Clarence's brother and next in the line of succession, Prince George, Duke of York, to marry her instead. They married in the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, on 6 July 1893.
Mary Adelaide never lived to see her daughter become Princess of Wales or Queen, as she died on 27 October 1897 at White Lodge, following an emergency operation. She was buried in the royal vault at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
Mary Adelaide Close, on the edge of Richmond Park, is named after her.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
- 27 November 1833 – 12 June 1866: Her Royal Highness Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
- 12 June 1866 – 16 December 1871: Her Royal Highness Princess Francis of Teck
- 16 December 1871 – 27 October 1897: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Teck
As a male-line granddaughter of the British monarch, she was styled Her Royal Highness Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. As the male-line granddaughter of a king of Hanover, Princess Mary Adelaide also bore the titles of Princess of Hanover and Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg.
- Companion of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, 1878
- Order of St John Lady of Justice, 1896
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