Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
Princess Elisabeth of Hesse was considered as one of the most beautiful woman in Europe, her cousin Princess Marie of Edinburgh later Queen of Romania recall “There was something of a lily about her; her purity was absolute; one could never take one’s eyes off her.” One of her numerous admirer were the future Kaiser of Germany, Prince Wilhelm, who fell in love with her. They had known each other forever, and it was in his early teenage years that Wilhelm expressed his feeling toward his cousin, at the age of 16 when Ella was 11 he wrote to her mother "Cousins look very nice, Victoria full of mirth, had a very good complexion; Ella–who is my special pet–is much grown and is exceedingly beautiful, in fact she is the most beautiful girl I ever saw. She is more quiet than Victoria but still very intelligent. She and I both love each other warmly… I think that if God grants that I may live till then I shall make her my bride once you allow it.”
When he was a college student at Bonn, he spent a lot of time in Darmstadt, Wilhelm adored her and always wrote about her in a tender way. It is known that she was one of the few who could quiet him, a day she was laid up with a hurt ankle he sat beside her and read to her.
His mother Victoria wasn’t too keen on this match, due to the risk of hemophilia and she thought that they were too closely related. However Queen Victoria and Kaiserin Augusta were extremely thrilled by the prospect of this marriage. But unfortunately Elisabeth didn’t share the same feelings as Wilhelm and politely refused his offer to marry him. She decided to accept the hand of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. Some said Wilhelm who was terrible hurt helped spread some of the gossip about Serge after Ella married him.
What is sure is Wilhelm never really got over her refusal to his proposal and later years after, when one of his grandson have to choose between love and duty he wrote to him “You will no doubt well know that only few sovereigns in the world are lucky enough to be able to marry the object of their first love. For example, in my youth exactly the same thing happened to me, when my parents refused to allow me to marry my cousin Ella of Hesse–a relationship which my grandmother Kaiserin Augusta especially fostered and which I had begged my parents from the bottom of my heart to permit. My heart bleeding, I obeyed the severe command of duty.”
When the revolution broke out he tried to engineer her removal from Russia, but Elisabeth refused to leave Russia. She thanked him for this kind gesture and few month later she met her tragic destiny. Reportedly, he had a photo of her on his desk all his life.
From L to R : Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of H, spouse Grand Duchess Victoria Melita, Crownprincess Marie of Romania, Prince Afred, Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (the elder), Princess Marie, Duchess of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, Princess Mary, duchess of York and Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria of Prussia , all together at the Wedding of Princess Alexandra of Edinburg with Prince Ernst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. 1896