Princess Anna of Prussia

Princess Anna
Landgravine of Hesse
Born (1836-05-17)17 May 1836
Died 12 June 1918(1918-06-12) (aged 82)
Spouse Frederick William II, Landgrave of Hesse
Issue Frederick William III, Landrgrave of Hesse
Elisabeth, Hereditary Princess of Anhalt
Alexander Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse
Frederick Charles, Landgrave of Hesse
Princess Marie-Polyxene
Princess Sybille Marguerite
Full name
German: Maria Anna Friederike
House Hohenzollern
Father Prince Charles of Prussia
Mother Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Prussian royalty
House of Hohenzollern
Descendants of Frederick William III
Prince Friedrich Karl
Louise, Landgravine of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld
Charlotte, Hereditary Princess of Saxe-Meiningen
Princess Anna
Prince Albert
Princess Elisabeth
Princess Alexandrine

Princess Maria Anna Friederike (17 May 1836 in Berlin – 12 June 1918 in Frankfurt) was a Princess of Prussia. She was usually called Anna.



A young Anna.

Anna was the youngest of the three children of Prince Charles of Prussia and Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

As a beautiful young princess, she was the object of much attention at court. In the winter of 1852, the young Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria met her in Berlin, fell in love, and wished to propose to her. His mother, Archduchess Sophie of Austria, wrote to her sister Queen Elise of Prussia referring to "the happiness that showed itself to him like a fleeting dream and made an impression on his heart -- alas -- much stronger and deeper than I had first thought."[1] However, Anna was already engaged at that time, and as an added complication, there were strong feelings against an alliance with Austria among Prussian statesmen. Franz Joseph's mother asked, "whether there is any hope that this sad marriage, which they are imposing on this charming Anna and which leaves her no prospect of happiness whatsoever, could be prevented,"[1] but to no avail.

Marriage and issue

On 26 May 1853, Anna married Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel at Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. Anna was the second wife of her new husband, who nine years previously had experienced the traumatic death in childbirth of his beloved first wife, Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna of Russia. He never got over this loss, which took place less than a year after his wedding to Alexandra, and it is believed that this was the reason his relationship with Anna was polite but emotionally distant.

They had six children:

Victoria, Princess Royal wrote of Anna:

"...[she] is very pretty, the most splendid figure you ever saw, but I do not like her style quite, her gowns are a good deal fuller than the Empress' and so low, I cannot bear that; and I do not like to see the Princesses dancing about with everybody ...".[2]

She was the subject of one of the most famous paintings by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, in which she is depicted wearing a sweeping dress of tulle over pink silk.

However, Anna was also a highly intelligent woman who presided over a court salon of outstanding artists and musicians, including Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, Anton Rubinstein,and Julius Stockhausen. She herself was a classically trained pianist of great talent and ability who studied under Theodor Kullak.[3] Brahms dedicated his Piano Quintet to her in 1865.[4]

Unusually for a Hessian landgravine, she converted to Catholicism in 1901, which led to political complications.[5]

Death and burial

Anna died on 12 June 1918, in Frankfurt at the age of 82. She is buried in Fulda Cathedral before the altar to St. Anne. The Latin inscription is: Hic iacet Serenissima Landgrafia Hassiae ANNA Principissa Borussiae nata Berolini die 17. maii 1836 obiit Francofurti die 12. junii 1918 + Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo R.I.P. [translation: Here lies the most serene Landgravine of Hesse, ANNA, Princess of Prussia, born in Berlin on May 17, 1836, died in Frankfurt on June 12, 1918. I will sing the mercies of the Lord forever. R.I.P.]

Titles, styles, honours and arms




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  1. 1 2 Hamann, Brigitte. Elisabeth. Kaiserin wider Willen. Munich, 1981, p. 8.
  2. Letter to Queen Victoria, 12 February 1858.
  5. Röhl, John. Kaiser, Hof und Staat. Wilhelm II. und die deutsche Politik, Munich, 1988, p. 106.
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