|Princess Thyra of Denmark, Duchess of Cumberland, and her husband, Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover. Images from Wikimedia Commons|
The Glucksburgs were relatively minor royals and the family lived modestly. In fact, as a child, Thyra shared the nursery with her brother Prince Waldemar, practically a stranger to her older sisters (her oldest sister, Princess Alexandra was nine years her senior, while Dagmar, six). "They made a pet of her, but there could be no confidence between them, for they had married and gone to their homes in other countries before she was out of the bedroom." The family fortune changed when the Great Powers agreed that Prince Christian should succeed the childless Frederick VII as King of Denmark. The lives of Glucksburgs changed for the better and the prospects of his children marrying into the royal houses of Europe were upped. Thyra’s oldest brother, Frederick, succeeded their father as King of Denmark; Alexandra became queen consort of United Kingdom and empress of India; William was elected by the Great Powers as king of Greece; Dagmar married the czarevitch of Russia who later ruled as Czar Alexandra III. The youngest brother, Waldemar, enjoyed a long and successful career in the navy.
Also, in her childhood years, Thyra was taught how to sew and knit her own socks and clothes. Thyra had dark hair and dark blue eyes, though she was neither perceived as beautiful as Alexandra nor as charming as Dagmar. She was, nevertheless, an attractive young woman admired for her quiet and gentle ways. By the time she reached the marriageable age, Europe was already running out of royal bachelors, something which never bothered Thyra. She was happy and content where she was at the time, enjoying the company of her little brother Valdemar and keeping herself preoccupied with her own artistic pursuits.
An 18-year-old Thyra fell in love with a cavalry lieutenant named Vilhelm Frimann Marcher. While her mother Queen Louise dismissed it as nothing but an innocent crush, the seemingly harmless relationship eventually resulted to pregnancy. In order to get rid of the looming scandal, Thyra’s brother, George I of Greece, suggested for her sister to travel to and give birth in Athens. The Danish press, who made regular reports on the activities of the royal family, was told that “Princess Thyra had come down with jaundice and was confined to an isolation ward in Athens”.
Thyra gave birth to Maria on November 8, 1871 at the Schloss Glücksburg. The baby was later adopted by Rasmus and Anne Marie Jørgensen, a couple from Odense, Denmark who renamed the infant Kate. Feeling distraught after losing both Thyra and his child and following a verbal altercation with King Christian, Kate’s father committed suicide on January 4, 1872. Kate married Frode Pløyen-Holstein in 1902and passed away in 1964.
Thyra became depressed following the whole ordeal. She fell ill with typhoid fever that their journey homebound had to be halted in Geneva. The princess and Queen Louise finally arrived in Copenhagen in June of 1872. Over the next years, Thyra would lead an uneventful life. King Willem III of the Netherland, who was in search for a much younger bride to give him more children, became Thyra’s first suitor, but the princess rejected him as he was 36 years her senior, not to mention a notorious philanderer.
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, was also matched with Thyra. Though they met a number of times in preparation for a possible engagement, Queen Victoria later had to step in as she thought a second British-Danish marriage would interfere with her pro-German leanings.
Matchmaker Queen Louise then set her sights on Crown Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, whom Thyra had already met in Rome. Though he was not considered handsome due to his trademark boxer’s nose, he was a sensible match to the princess, not to mention that he was heir to his father’s enormous fortune. This, however, did not come without complications. The duke had a strained relationship with the Prussians (to whom his father had lost the throne in 1866 after the Kingdom of Hanover was annexed by Prussia after siding with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War), which exacerbated after he assumed the title “Duke of Cumberland” from his English paternal grandfather. Most seriously, Denmark lost the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein in the war of 1864, and the Danish government was now seeking ways to regain it without upsetting the Prussians. Marriage between Thyra and Ernest Augustus would not sit well with Chancellor Bismarck. Fearing that Thyra might end up as a spinster and so as not to upset Queen Victoria and the Prussian in-laws, the Princess of Wales arranged a secret rendezvous between her youngest sister and Ernst August.
Thyra and Ernest Augustus married on December 21/22, 1878 at the chapel of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark. The union produced six children. Through her marriage, Thyra acquired the titles Duchess of Cumberland and Teviotdale, and Duchess of Brunswick-Luneburg. She was styled Crown Princess of Hanover, although she was queen consort in pretense as her husband never renounced his rights to the throne.
The couple lived a happy married life, however Thyra would sometimes be haunted by her past that she would suffer bouts of breakdowns and depression. Crown Princess Thyra of Hanover died on February 26, 1933 in Gmunden, Upper Austria. She was 79 years old. She and her husband, whom she survived by nine years, are buried in the family mausoleum in Gmunden.