A torn sheet of paper with a very long name...written in an old-fashioned hand; a list of names, a title. Just a scrap of paper which usually would have been thrown in the wastepaper basket. But context is everything. This paper was bundled in among a thick sheaf of letters and other documents relating to the Golden Dawn which we were given (through an intermediary) by a mysterious stranger, whose name we still do not know (absolutely true story).
"Francesca Josepha Louise Augusta Therese Christiana Marie, Prinzessin Aribert von Anhalt
Herzogovina zu Sachsen, Herzogovina zu Schleswig-Holstein Sonderburg Augustenburg" and so on. A little bit of research reveals that the name is that of a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, who became better known as H. H. Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein.
Married to Prince Aribert of Anhalt in St. George's Chapel, Windsor in 1891, Marie Louise spent some years in Germany, at court, while her husband devoted much of his time to furthering his military career. While on an official visit to Canada in 1900, Marie Louise received an urgent telegram from the Queen, summoning her to London, where she was informed that the marriage had been dissolved at the behest of her father-in-law. There were rumors of a scandal concerning her husband's sexual orientation, but nothing was even made public.
She remained in England for the rest of her life, devoting herself to charity work and patronage of the arts. Regarding her marriage vows as binding, she never married again. She was considered to be a member of the British royal family and attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (who called her "Cousin Louie") in 1953. Princess Marie Louise died in 1956 and is buried in the Royal Plot at Frogmore House.
What is the connection between a bundle of Golden Dawn papers and a high-ranking member of the Royal Family? The link is Florence Farr, who wrote to Annie Horniman in 1900 to ask if a Neophyte candidate could be initiated privately "because her social position makes it impossible for her to come to Mark Mason's Hall". Farr went of to say that she had many "serious talks" with the Princess (whose proposers and seconders were Sir Henry and Lady Colville) and described her as having "the kind of nature that the G. D. course would help tremendously".
Who wrote the note and why would a sheet of paper with Marie Louise's full name and titles be carefully preserved by the Isis-Urania temple in London? Or was it a list of her official names in order to address her correctly in a letter? I tried to find a sample of her handwriting online and quickly found quite a number of samples. There is no doubt that the note is in her own hand. Whether she went through with the initiation or not is open to speculation and possibly can never be answered. Just another Golden Dawn conundrum - of which there are many!
This and more documents from the cache will be posted here at irregular intervals.
The images (unless otherwise stated) are copyright of Sally North and may not be reproduced without permission.
You can read more about Marie Louise here
For an excellent biography of Florence Farr, I recommend Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw's 'New Woman' by Josephine Johnson, ISBN: 9780901072153.