Louise of Belgium 

A lesser known but intriguing life story is that of Princess Louise of Belgium (18 February 1858-1 March 1924) the eldest daughter of King Leopold II of Belgium. King Leopold was absolutely not happy with his 3 daughters, certainly not after his only son and heir died at the age of nine.

He did arrange marriages for them with sons of other Royal houses with which he wanted to strengthen his ties.

His eldest daughter, Princess Louise, at the age of seventeen, married Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha who was thirty-one at the time . He was her second cousin since her  grandfather King Leopold I and his grandfather Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha were brothers.

Right; the official wedding picture of Princess Louise of Belgium and Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, 4 May 1875.

Louise's married live

Princess Louise of Belgium and Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Princess Louise of Belgium and her sister, Crown Princess Stéphanie.

After the  marriage the couple first moved to Budapest, but later went to live in Vienna. They lived at the Coburg Palace, which is a hotel today, the Palais Coburg Residenz.

PALAIS COBURG RESIDENZ

Palais Coburg Residenz

They were included in the circle of Emperor Franz joseph and the imperial family. Louise’s sister Princess Stéphanie was married to Crown Prince Rudolf ( the one who committed suicide together with his mistress at Mayerling). Louise had suggested this because she and Rudolf got along very well, and she claimed her sister was much like her. 

Prince Phillip and Princess Louise are on the right in this family picture.

The others are (fltr) Duchess Amalie in Bavaria née Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (wife of Duke Max Emanuel), Duke Max Emanuel in Bavaria, Prince Ludwig August of Coburg, Prince Ferdinand of Coburg, Princess Clothilde of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (wife of Archduke Joseph), Archduke Joseph Karl Ludwig of Austria.

What a happy bunch!

After the marriage Prince Phillip went on partying just as he had done before, and had no respect for marital fidelity. Princess Louise also had various affairs. The marriage was not a success, Lousie usually called her husband ‘der Dicke’ (the fat one). They did manage to have two children together, a son, Prince Leopold Clement Philipp August Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (19 July 1878 – 27 April 1916) and a daughter, Dorothea, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein (30 April 1881-21 January 1967).

Louise of Belgium meets her lover

Géza Mattachich

Then, during a ride in the prater, Princess Louise met the love of her life, count Géza von Mattachich-Keglevich. This self-proclaimed count was a Croatian Lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army.

Geza took the title and the second surname from Oskar Keglevich, the count of Buzin, who  maintained a relationship with his mother. Mattachich’s real father was a common man, and his mother Anna a illegitimate daughter of a priest.

Count Oskar Keglevich had a long time affair with the mother of Geza and when his father kicked him out of the schloss Lobor because of this affair, he simply moved in with his mistress and her family. 

15 Years later, when his father died he enherited Lobor castle and he went to live there, together with his beloved.  Geza went with his mother, his father remained behind and agreed to a divorce only after some time (and after a generous fee of the Earl). The count could finally marry Anna and adopted her son. Long before that happened Geza used the surname and the title of count.

Lobor Castle is now a home for the mentally ill.

This young ´count´, at least 10 years younger than Princess Louise, who was 37 when they met, tried to impress her with his horsemanship. He made sure that he often ran into her and they became lovers. Mattatich was very happy with this conquest, far above his booth. As a man of honor he remained loyal to the Princess until his death (although not always faithfull...). The couple made no secret of the affair, and eventually Louise is summoned by emperor Franz Joseph. As a result the count and the princess elope to Nice, France. On the orders of emperor Franz Joseph Prince Philipp challenged Geza to a duel, but Phillip lost and had to go back home humiliated. Geza went back to Louise in Nice.

The couple  staid there for a few years in the Villa Paradise where they led a frivol and exuberant life. Traders, Jewellers and merchants are happy  to supply credit to the couple, thinking that Prince Phillip or Louises father, King Leopold will eventually pay the bills.

Initially, Prince Philip does this to try to prevent an even bigger scandal, but eventually he has a message put in the newspaper to report that he no longer takes responsibility for the debts of his wife. Also King Leopold does not supports his daughter. He even deletes her from his will. (at his death, most of his wealth goes to his mistress Caroline Lacroix and to the Belgian State, leaving his three his daughters with almost nothing!)

The Villa Paradise in Nice

Children of Louise of Belgium

Louise of Belgium with her son and daughter

Here are some pictures of Princess Louise with her children. When she eloped to Nice, she took her daughter Dorothea, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein, with her. When the problems at the Villa Paradise pile up, Dorothea is forced to go live with her fiancé,  Ernst Gunther, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein.

Louise never had a special connection with her son, Prince Leopold Clement of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. After her break up with his father they estranged further. Prince Leopold held his mother responsable for the fact that he did not inherit anything from his grandfather, King Leopold II of Belgium, the wealthiest man of his time.

Louise of Belgium with her daughter, Dorothea

At some point Louise is forced to sell her belongings to satisfy the creditors. If it gets  too bad they flee to the castle of Lobor in Croatie to stay with Geza’s mother and stepfather for a while. They are not very welcome there. It is there that the Austrian authorities pick them up in 1989 ( croatia was a part of the Austria-Hungarian empire at that time). The count is put in prison for fraud, and Louise was forced into a lunatic asylum. She stayed there until 1904.

The story gets even steeper. Geza has a ' fan ', a married woman, mother of a son of 7, by the name of Maria Stoger. She leaves her husband and child to try to get in contact with  count Geza. She manages this by getting a job in the prison were Geza is held. She gets into contact with him and they even become lovers in prison.

Meanwhile the public opinion has changed and  questions are being asked about the trial of Geza. To avoid any further scandalls the governement desides to release Geza. He and Maria, who by then has given birth to Geza’s bastard son, live together in Vienna. In this period Geza writes his memoirs. 

With the help of his lover and admirer Maria Stoger and some other friends they liberate Louise from the asylum and they all flee to France.

memoirs of Géza Mattachich

There they pick up their old lifestyle. They live all three in the Westminster hotel. Phillip has offered a settlement to Louise so she would agree to a divorce. This gives them something of a secure income. But they still live beyond their means and end up traveling throughout Europe, fleeing hordes of creditors. Geza dies in 1923. On March 1, 1924, Louise passed away, holding a picture of her count in her hands.

Géza Mattachich
Louise of Belgium


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Princess Louise of Belgium wrote her memoires:


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