Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Beautiful Princess of Braganza

Anita Rhinelander Stewart reminds me of Consuelo Vanderbilt. Like Consuelo, the beautiful and wealthy Anita entered a match which was probably arranged by her ambitious, socialite mother.

Born in 1885, Anita had a rich father who was a lawyer and managed various trusts. Anita's mother divorced him and married James Henry Smith, nicknamed 'Silent' Smith.
He had inherited fifty million dollars from an unmarried uncle. He settled one million dollars on Anita. Soon after the marriage Smith died and left Anita's mother and Anita large amounts of money.

Anita met Prince Miguel of Braganza in Paris and married him three months later. Crowds flocked to see the great occasion. This was the first royal wedding in Scotland since the days of the Stuarts. Anita and the Prince married at Tulloch Castle near Dingwall on a fine day, September 15, 1909. National flags brightened the streets. The bride wore a lovely chiffon dress and a 'historic lace veil over a wreath of orange blossoms'. The veil was attached to a diamond and sapphire cluster given to her by the Prince.

Anita's mother settled the Prince's gambling debts, which amounted to over $800,000.00. Surprisingly, Anita remained Protestant. I read in various articles that Anita was created Princess of Braganza by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph but Marlene of 'Royal Musings' has researched her extensively and writes that this information is wrong.

The marriage was not happy although the couple had three children, Miguel, Nadjeda,and John. Nadjeda committed suicide when she was in her thirties.

Anita returned to America with her children during the First World War. The Prince fought for the Kaiser, which probably annoyed Anita. (One hopes that it did!) She lived in NYC and set up a photographic studio. She remained on good terms with her husband, who also returned to America. He died in 1923.

The princess died in 1977 at 91 on the anniversary of her marriage to Prince Miguel.

I found a picture of Anita Stewart in this article from the New York Times: The Engagement of Anita Stewart

Marlene at Royal Musings has another article about the rather disreputable prince:
Anita Stewart's Poor Bargain


Ms. Lucy said...

Always fascinating articles.- Thanks:)

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Anita and Miguel never divorced. In November 1922, Miguel was able to return to the US. Anita did not regain her US citizenship until 1926, three years after Miguel's death. Moreover, her daughter was Nadejda (one of her names) but was always known as Nada. Nada was married twice and was the mother of a teenage son, when she committed suicide in 1946, shortly before her 36th birthday.

Anita's second husband was Lewis Gouvernor Morris, a member of one of NY's most historic families. She did not marry a Lymen Stewart.
Anita was 91, not 92, when she died. The information about Franz Joseph giving Anita a title is also incorrect. I wrote an article on Anita for Royalty Digest in 1996.

Miguel was a member of a branch of the Portuguese royal family that had lost their rights to the throne His grandfather, King Miguel, lost the throne largely because he had usurped his niece's rights. He went into exile, and renounced his rights and the rights of his descendants to the throne.
The family did like to think they retained rights - and Miguel, duke of Vizeu (Anita's husband) waived his rights and the rights of his descendants to the former throne. His father also did the same thing - and the heir to the putative throne was Miguel's younger half-brother, Dom Duarte, who became the heir to the throne after the death of the exiled King Manoel II in 1932. The ban against the descendants of King Miguel was finally lifted in 1950, and members of the family could return to Portugal. The present head of the house is the son of Dom Duarte.

Viola said...

Thank you, Marlene. I will try to correct these errors.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Viola -- you still have Miguel as Anita's former husband. They never divorced ... and her daughter was Nadjeda, not Natjeda. Known as Nada.

Sérgio Figueira said...

Interesting post Viola. As for Marlene corrections, here are a few notes:

King Miguel I was defeated in the Portuguese Civil War in 1834 by his brother former King Pedro IV of Portugal and first Emperor o Brasil. He abdicated his rights on his daughter who became Queen Maria II, while still in Brasil and gave Portugal a Constitution. Maria was supposed to marry her uncle Miguel, but he reveled and called the Cortes Gerais (traditionally representing the old regime) and was proclamed King.

That was the beginning of the civil war. After being defeated, a peace treaty was signed (Evora Monte Convention), where he lost his rights, had to leave for exile, where he was to receive a pension for life. However, on arriving in Italy, he declared the treaty null and of no effect, claiming his rights, reason why he never received his pension and was banned from entering the country again ( Lei do Banimento).

In fact his successors always claimed the rights to the Portuguese throne and were supported in their claims by a significant part of the Portuguese aristocracy. When the monarchy was abolished in Portugal in 1910 and King Manuel had to leave the country and go to England in exile, there was an approach between the two branches of the family and negotiations started for a mutual recognition ( The Dover and later Paris pacts).

When King Manuel II died childless in 1932, the Braganças Miguel branch was the closest to Manuel line and their members were later recognized as the rightfull heirs to the Portuguese throne.

Miguel, who married Anita, was forced to renounce his rights for having married a commoner (the same as later happened in England when Edward VIII married Wallis Simpson). So there was no way he could claim any rights. His father on his turn also renounced his rights in favor of Dom Duarte Nuno (a younger half-brother of Miguel). His son Dom Duarte Pio is the present head of the Bragança family.
Sérgio Figueira
Master in History at the Faculty of Letters
Porto University

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