by Susan Flantzer
Born on April 14, 1818, in Hildburghausen, Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen, now in the German state of Thuringia, Marie was the eldest daughter of the six daughters of Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and Amalie of Württemberg. She was given a long string of names: Alexandrine Marie Wilhelmine Katharine Charlotte Theresia Henriette Luise Pauline Elisabeth Friederike Georgine. Marie was born as a Princess of Saxe-Hildburghausen, but in 1826 she became a Princess of Saxe-Altenburg due to a transfer of territories within her family.
Marie had five sisters:
- Pauline (1819 – 1825), died young
- Therese (1823 – 1915), unmarried
- Elisabeth (1826 – 1896), married Peter II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg, had issue
- Alexandra (1830 – 1911), married Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich of Russia, son of Nicholas I, Emperor of All Russia; had issue, their daughter Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna and her husband King George I of Greece (born Prince William of Denmark) are ancestors of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Sofía of Spain, and five Kings of Greece.
- Luise (1832 – 1833), died young
In 1839, Marie met Crown Prince George of Hanover at Schloss Monbrillant, a summer palace of the Hanovers. George was the son of Ernest Augustus, the fifth son of George III of the United Kingdom, who had inherited the throne of Hanover upon the accession of his niece Victoria in 1837. Up until the point, Hanoverian kings of the United Kingdom were also Electors or Kings of Hanover. However, Hanover followed the Salic Law which did not allow female succession. Ernest Augustus, as the eldest surviving male, became King of Hanover.
Crown Prince George was totally blind, having lost the sight in his left eye due to illness when he was ten years old and the sight in his right eye due to an accident four years later. There were some doubts about his ability to be king due to his blindness, but his father decided to keep him in the line of succession. Marie and George were married on February 18, 1843.
The couple had three children:
- Ernst August, Crown Prince of Hanover, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, 3rd Earl of Armagh (1845 – 1923), married Princess Thyra of Denmark; had issue; under the 1917 Titles Deprivation Act, he was deprived of his British peerages and royal titles for bearing arms against Great Britain
- Princess Frederica of Hanover, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland (1848 – 1926); married Litubert, Baron von Pawel-Rammingen; had issue
- Princess Marie of Hanover, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland (1849 – 1904), unmarried
George succeeded his father as King of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, as well as Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, in the Peerage of Great Britain, and Earl of Armagh, in the Peerage of Ireland, on November 18, 1851, and Marie assumed the female counterparts of the styles and titles. George V of Hanover reigned for only 15 years, being exiled from Hanover in 1866 as a result of his support for Austria in the Austro-Prussian War. On September 20, 1866, Hanover was annexed by Prussia. George never abdicated from the throne of Hanover and he and Marie lived in exile at Gmunden, Austria, until his death in 1878. After George’s death, Marie continued living in the Villa Thun in Gmunden which became known as the Queen’s Villa and is still owned by the House of Hanover. She died on January 9, 1907, and was buried in the mausoleum at Schloss Cumberland in Gmunden, Austria. Through her son Ernst Augustus, Marie is the ancestor of former King Constantine I of Greece, his sister Queen Sofia of Spain, and Prince Ernst Augustus of Hanover (husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco).