We Wittelsbach children were a handful, I admit. The eight of us were wild children, raised to ride well and walk as though we had wings beneath our feet, but stable, long-term relationships were not our strong suit.
My eldest brother, Ludwig, was raised to be a military man, but his real love was the theater, and he fell head over heels for an actress named Henriette. He soon knocked her up (twice) which caused quite a stir in the court. Wittelsbachs don’t marry commoners, apparently, and it was up to me to legislate his union with the woman. Which I did. Not that it did any good–she was shunned from the circle, and died, bitter and aggrieved. After which, my brother married (and divorced) a young dancer before having a fatal heart attack at age 90.
Helene (known to us as Nené), as you know, was slated to marry Franz Josef, when I scooped her in Bad Ischl. Poor Nené tried not to be bitter, and was bee-lining toward old maid, when Maximilian Anton von Thurn and Taxis scooped her up, and in short order, along came four babies. All was not well with poor Max, who died at the young age of 36, leaving Helene to raise their small children alone (with the help of a full staff and governesses and so on , of course).
My favorite brother Karl Theodor (Gackl), lost his first wife to tuberculosis (which he also suffered from). At age 35 he married 17-year-old Princess maria Josepha of Braganza with whom he had five children.
My three little sisters were all somewhat precocious–each of them (Marie, Mathilde and Sophie), engaging in countless affairs–even having “secret” children with their lovers who were squired off and raised elsewhere. Marie, known as The Heroine of Gaeta, had a husband with a malformed organ (which was eventually corrected, but not before she gave birth to a set of bastard twins by her lover); Mathilde ‘Spatz” married Marie’s brother, whom she despised; and poor Sophie — she kept getting set up with gay men (my brother-in-law and our cousin Mad King Ludwig II), and was eventually betrothed to Duke Ferdinand of Alencon. Ah, but dear Sophie was a handful, and eventually ran off with her doctor, for which she was punished and thrown into a mental asylum and shocked into submission.
My youngest sibling, dear brother Mapperl (Max Emanuel), had perhaps the happiest marriage. He wed his love, Princess Amelie of Coburg (even though she’d been promised to Prince Leopold of Bavaria–something I took care of by suggesting my daughter, Gisela, in Amalie’s place). They had three sons together before Mapperl died of ulcers at age 42.
As you can see, happily ever after was NOT the Wittelsbach tagline!