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Die Juwelen von Marie Amélie d’Orléans (1865–1951), Königin von Portugal


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In 1884 Duchess Clementine of Saxe-Coburg, Amelie’s paternal aunt, visited the royal court in Lisbon, where she praised the qualities of her niece Princess Amelie to Queen Maria Pia of Portugal, and also showed the queen a photograph of Amelia.
The heir, Prince Carlos, saw the picture too and was enthusiastic about Amelie. In January 1886, Carlos left Lisbon to meet Princess Amelie in the castle of Chantilly, owned by the Duke of Aumâle, Amelia's great uncle. Before the two met, they had one thing in common already: their birth date, 28 September (Carlos was older 2 years than Amelia). At first sight there was a mutual attraction. During the gala dinner that followed, Amelia noticed that Carlos was agitated and distracted by his feelings for her. She calmed him and returned his attention, thus letting him know that she was not indifferent to him. After this first meeting, Carlos was sure about his feelings, and in a letter to his father, King Luis, he said: "no other creature is more beautiful than her."


The couple soon got engaged; the engagement was celebrated in Paris where a grand reception was held in the Princess’ honour. Over 2000 carriages were needed to bring the guests to the palace. When Amelia's father, Prince Louis-Philippe decided to hold this party, he did not expect the repercussions that it would bring him and his family later. The splendour of the festivities annoyed the French republican government, as a result they forbade military troops to be present. The Orléans family had been exiled from France in 1848 and only been allowed to return in 1871. Still the French government was suspicious about the family and saw the public interest in Amelia’s wedding as a threat.

Before their wedding in May 1886, the Princess said a heartfelt goodbye to everybody who lived and worked in her parents' home in Paris, and more than 10,000 citizens were present to wave goodbye at the railway station where she departed for her new home. On 19 May 1886 she arrived in Portugal at the train station of Vimieiro. Here she changed into a dress made of blue and white silk and a hat in the colours of the monarchist Portuguese flag. Amelia was not an extraordinary beauty, but her impressive height (5 feet 10 inches/180 cm), her dark hair, and her brown eyes impressed the Portuguese spectators. From the station the Princess and her party went to the Palace of Necessidades in Lisbon. On her wedding eve, Amelia visited the palace chapel to confess and to pray.


The royal wedding was celebrated three days after her arrival, on 22 May, in the Church of São Domingos in Lisbon. The day was splendid, the sun shone, and everyone was on the street to greet the royal family. It was jokingly said that only the sick and the lame stayed at home. On that day, everybody forgot the political differences. In Lisbon, the hotels were filled with guests who came from remote places in Portugal. The church was dazzling, not only because of the blue and white decorations but also because of the beauty and variety of uniforms and gowns worn by the guests. At 2.10 pm the bride arrived at the church with her father. The Countess of Paris followed them and was escorted to the altar by the bridegroom, while the music of Hino da Carta --national anthem of the kingdom of Portugal --was played. Everybody was eager to see Amelia’s dress. She didn’t disappoint them: her white wedding dress was made of faille silk with a long train, and her lace veil was a gift from friends from France. On her head she wore a garland of orange blossom; she didn’t wear any jewelry.

After a short honeymoon in the bucolic and romantic city of Sintra, the young couple went to live in the Palace of Belém while Amelia's parents stayed in the Palace of Necessidades. It was at this time that the family heard that they were exiled from France again. The exile was caused by the “extravagant” celebrations for Amelia's wedding, which had aroused royalist feelings in France.


The first years of their marriage were happy. When the Duchess of Luynes, a friend of Amelia, wanted to know if the Crown Princess had found real happiness, Amelia replied in a letter:
"I have adapted very well to my new life; my parents in law are so tender to me and the people show me such kindness.”
In 1886, Amelia became pregnant with her first child. It was an easy and happy pregnancy, but the actual delivery of Infante Crown Prince Luís Filipe on 21 March 1887 did not go as swiftly. It took so long that the family and the courtiers got frightened.

The couple’s first official visit took place in 1887, when they travelled to London to attend the celebrations for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. For Amelia this was an opportunity to meet her French family, who were still living in exile in England. After the ceremonies, the couple left for Scotland. During this trip Amelia's son stayed in Portugal with Queen Maria Pia, and although Amelia missed him terribly she enjoyed the time she spent with her husband. In Edinburgh the couple was able to send good news to Portugal: Amelia was pregnant for the second time. When Carlos and Amelia returned to Portugal they paid an official visit to the north of the country, where they were confronted with a very harsh article in Braga's Comércio do Minho newspaper. The defamatory article used words like "wastrel", "liar" and "cynic" to describe the princess. Amelia was also accused of too much interference in politics and showing fake affection for her husband, son and father-in-law. According to the newspaper Amelia faked her kindness with everybody and especially with the poor and sick. The article caused a scandal, and a group of furious protesters destroyed the office of the newspaper. However, this was only the first negative article about Amelia; many more would follow. For the republicans, attacking Amelia provided a perfect way to attack the monarchy.

Many thanks to Mags for the information and the text!


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