Princess Marie (1813-1839) was the third child of Louis-Philippe (1773-1830) Duc d’Orléans, formerly the Duc de Chartres, heir to the Orléans dukedom and son of the infamous Philippe Egalité. Her mother was also royal, the Princess Marie Amélie of Bourbon-Sicilies. Her father was later to become King Louis Philippe, known by the people as the ‘Citizen King’ for his reforming ways.
She was born in Vienna, one of 10 children, two of whom died in infancy. The family of five sons and three daughters grew to adulthood surviving the revolution and subsequent turmoil and they are reputed to have had happy childhood. Her brother described the chateau and childhood in the family home at Neuilly in glowing terms: ‘a large unassuming château – mainly buildings with simply one ground floor joined to another, on the same level as the exquisite gardens. The domain ran down from the old fortifications to the seine…You could find everything in those grounds – forests of tall trees, coppices, clearings, lawns, orchards heavy with fruit in the autumn, huge vegetable gardens, greenhouses, fields – real fields full of wheat, shining golden in the sun, the ploughed land with its dung steaming in October, the delicious scent of haymaking… A whole arm of the river Seine formed part of the domain – there were desert islands where you could play re Indians, or seek the shade of the great trees to read Robinson Crusoe.’
Out of the three daughters, Louise, Clémentine and Marie, she is described as being the most talented and liveliest of the Duc’s daughters.
She was a great beauty, ‘dark and pretty’ is the description from the Countess of Paris. She received art lessons from a prominent painter of the period Ary Scheffer and became a renowned sculptress with a high reputation. Ary became a close friend, intellectual guide and mentor totally in tune with her educated and inquiring mind. He advised and supported her endeavours including that of her greatest work - a marble statue of Jeanne d’Arc sited in the wonderful town square at Orléan. Because of her precocious talent, she had close ties with other artists and the Orléans name was celebrated in artistic circles the same way that her ancestor Charles d’Orléans of Blois was acknowledged amongst poets of his time some centuries earlier.
Attempts at finding a suitable husband for her proved difficult. The King of Naples was a serious candidate for her hand but negotiation faltered when Louis Philippe rejected his unreasonable demands. Eventually at aged 24 she married Prince Frederik Wilhelm Alexander von Wuttemberg, one of the lesser royal families, in 1837. She died in Pisa 2 years later of tuberculosis leaving a son aged 6 months. She faced her death with increasing piety.
Her death at such an early age caused an outpouring of grief. In the book ‘Memoir of the Life of Ary Scheffer’, Harriet Grote wrote:’.. the memory of this interesting young princess is regarded with affection and reverence. Cut off in the morning of her life, endowed (as she was) with gifts of every kind, and a heart which throbbed with the truest love of her country – she left a sort of saint-like, luminous track behind her, at her early departure.’ Ary himself records that ‘her disease was borne with resignation and courageous self- command worthy of herself.’
It is recorded that Marie suffered depression in adulthood but that may simply be because of the ravages of TB and of the distance between herself and her beloved older sister Louise who she was very close to. Louise married Leopold I and Marie sent long letters to her, despairing the separation between them. Princess Louise also died young of consumption.
The Rose – Princess Marie
In his authoritative book on climbing roses, Charles Quest-Ritson states that mystery surrounds this rose, with many descriptions of it, and different versions of it available in commerce.
The version we grew as Princess Marie when at Trinity farm is typically from the small and delectable family of sempervirens with its evergreen glossy foliage and its flat quartered little blooms. She produces large cascading trusses of numerous blooms with charmingly ragged petals. The blooms are double, flat and a bright pinkish-lilac which fade to off-white. The canes are pliable and in our climate is vigorous and a beautiful sight in spring.
The breeder Jacques bred few roses mostly of this variety and named them after the family of his employer the Duc d’Orleans, Louis-Philippe.
Jacques produced Adelaide, the Duc’s sister, and the Duc’s daughters Princesses Marie and Louise.