Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov Countess Torby in Cannes Antique Photo


Fine antique snap shot style photograph of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin(1851 – 1897),  his wife Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna (1860-1922), their daughter Alexandrine, later Queen of Denmark (1879-1952), their son Frederick, the last Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1882-1945), and Countess Sophie von Merenberg, Countess of Torby (1868-1927), at Cannes circa 1894.

Franz was the penultimate Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, born in Schloss Ludwigslust the son of Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and his first wife Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz.

From an early age Friedrich Franz suffered from asthma and severe breathing difficulties. He could not live in the north of Europe and lived instead on the shores of the Mediterranean, where the mild climate agreed with him. His homosexuality was an open secret.

Friedrich Franz's death in Cannes on 10 April 1897 is shrouded in mystery, as he was originally reported to have committed suicide by throwing himself off a parapet of a bridge. According to the official account of his death, however, he was in his garden when he experienced breathing difficulties and staggered around before falling over a low wall. He was succeeded by his son Friedrich Franz IV, who would be the last Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Friedrich Franz married Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia in St Petersburg on 24 January 1879. The Grand Duchess never became used to her new country where she was unpopular and so they lived amongst other places at Villa Wenden in Cannes. Of neo classic style with a German touch, the building was constructed in 1889, and rises from a garden terrace sustained by a spectacular peripheral wall.

She was a keen tennis player, with her own tennis court at the villa.The villa is remarkable and was the first residence in Cannes equipped with electricity and became the winter residence for the family. In 1914 the building was sequestrated and was later turned into luxury apartments and renamed Le Rouve.

Torby was the eldest daughter of Prince Nicholas William of Nassau and Natalya Aleksandrovna Pushkina. Sophie was born in Geneva, Switzerland, first born of Prince Nicholas of William Nassau and Natalya Aleksandrovna Pushkina. Since the marriage of the parents was considered morganatic, it was considered inappropriate for her father's title and rank. His paternal grandparents were William, Duke of Nassau, and Pauline Princess of Württemberg, while maternal ones were the famous Russian poet Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin and Nataly Nikolaevna Goncharova .

For contracting this marriage without permission, Emperor Alexander III of Russia, stripped him of his military titles and banished the couple from Russia.

For some years he lived in Wiesbaden, Nassau and in Cannes. He settled permanently in England in 1900, leasing Keele Hall in Staffordshire and later Kenwood House on the outskirts of London. He became a prominent member of British society, one of his daughters marrying into the British aristocracy and another marrying a great-grandson of Queen Victoria. He lost his fortune with the fall of the Russian monarchy in 1918. Three of his brothers were killed by the Bolsheviks, but he escaped the Russian Revolution because he was living abroad. He spent his last years living under reduced circumstances with the financial help of his son-in-law Sir Harold Wernher.

Photo Size: 11 x 7.5 cm approx

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