Crown Prince Ernest Augustus was not an attractive marital candidate in any way. His father, King George V of Hanover, was the last king of Hanover, and his grandfather was the British Duke of Cumberland, Queen Victoria’s uncle. When Queen Victoria inherited the British throne, Salic Law barred her from inheriting the Kingdom of Hanover, so her uncle took the throne there. But in 1866, Hanover refused to join Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War, and as punishment Prussia abolished Hanover as an independent kingdom and took away the royal family’s money.
Not only was Prince Ernest Augustus a prince without a kingdom, but he was also not personally very attractive. He was extremely plain to the point of ugliness, and he was very gawky and awkward. But he was also very kind, and his unsophisticated, laid back manner appealed to Princess Thyra, who had been raised very simply and unpretentiously.
The Engagement of Princess Thyra of Denmark and Crown Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover
When the two met in 1872, Princess Thyra surprised everyone by falling in love with Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover. Although it was a surprising match, King Christian IX of Denmark was happy to allow his daughter to marry for love. The British royal family was also supportive of the union, and Princess Thyra’s sister Princess Alexandra helped them meet and encouraged the marriage.
Prussia, however, was opposed to this dynastic union. Prussia, and in particular Chancellor Bismarck, feared that the Hanover royal family would gain too much influence with this alliance and would use it to regain power. So the families kept the relationship quiet so as not to provoke the Prussians. The couple met secretly in Frankfurt in 1878 and got engaged, and fortunately the public announcement was not met with too much resistance. The two were married in Copenhagen later that year.
The Married Life of Princess Thyra and Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover
Although Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover and Princess Thyra always considered themselves monarchs-in-exile, Ernest Augustus was now officially only the Duke of Cumberland. The couple lived a simple life in Gmunden, Austria, where they raised their six children. Although the couple got along with each other, Ernest Augustus became increasingly anti-social and Princess Thyra grew somewhat estranged from her sisters. The estrangement grew worse when the Hanover’s son and heir married Emperor William II of Germany’s only daughter, a union the anti-German Danes thought a betrayal. Nevertheless, the Hanovers had a content, happy union, and their descendants head the House of Hanover today.