The disappearances of a prince and princess

Princess Anne and Prince Ludwig of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg liked flying and spying, respectively. Both disappeared under mysterious and separate circumstances.

St. Raphael
Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Lady Anne Savile was the daughter of a British peer; Prince Ludwig was German royalty. When they married in 1897 they must have been a Victorian power couple. Anwig? Ludne?

Anyway, one year after they married the Prince disappeared. His friends in London took out newspaper advertisements trying to find out what had become of him, but they didn’t hear anything back until 1899.

The prince was in Manila, and had been for months. He was able to move freely between the different factions of the Spanish-American War (and later the Philippine-American War too), which suggests that he was probably an agent of the German government. He liked getting into the firing lines, and that was his undoing. In 1899, observing a battle between the US army and Filipino forces, he was accidentally shot in the side by an American and died.

I couldn’t find any account of how Princess Anne felt about this, although a contemporary newspaper account drops this tantalising line:

Only two persons knew the facts and truth of this drama, and they were the two people concerned. One can never tell, and the other never will.

Princess Anne did what any reasonable Victorian-era widow would, and took up aviation. From 1914 onwards she was a passenger in, and 1922 onwards the financier of, races and flying events. With her pilot Leslie Hamilton, she flew all around Western Europe.

These were the early years of aviation, when many records were still up for grabs. The first non-stop transatlantic flight had been achieved in 1919, going from Newfoundland, Canada, to Ireland; the first return journey happened the same year. In 1927 Lindbergh famously became the first to fly from New York to mainland Europe. But no-one had ever flown from Britain to Canada, and that was the record that Princess Anne and Hamilton decided to aim for.

Decked out in a splendid outfit of royal purple, she set off with Hamilton from Wiltshire on August 31st, 1927. The plane flew off into the sky and into history. The last confirmed sighting was beyond Ireland, flying over the Atlantic at night, but they never landed and the remains of the plane were never found. Anne was 63 years old.


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