Queen Amalia Maria Frederica of Oldenburg was quite an extraordinary queen. She was very unpopular, and, for some reason, everyone wanted to assassinate the Queen of Greece, who they once loved.
Amalia of Oldenburg was born on December 21st, 1818 in Oldenburg. Her mother was Adelheid of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym. She married Duke Paul Frederick Augustus of Oldenburg when she was just seventeen and had two daughters with him. Amalia was their eldest child. Adelheid died when Amalia was just two years old.
Paul Frederick Augustus, Amalia’s father, was known as Augustus, Grand Duke of Oldenburg. Five years after Amalia’s mother died, Augustus married her sister, Ida. After that, he became Grand Duke of Oldenburg, inheriting the throne from his father. After Ida’s death, Augustus married Cecilia of Sweden. Cecilia was not the best nor the worst stepmother, so Amalia was raised by governesses.
Amalia was given a good education, just as great as an early-19th century princess could get at that point, and learned many languages. She loved theatre and horseback riding, and, from her portraits, you can tell she was a very beautiful woman. That’s why it was no surprise that, when Amalia was just seventeen, Otto, the newly-made King of Greece, was quite interested in marrying her.
Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire since literally forever now, but Greece, after a lot of complicated rebellions and European rulers making decisions for other people, Greece became an independent nation, and Prince Otto of Bavaria, son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, suddenly became King of Greece. And of course, he wanted an alliance and a nice Queen, and that’s what Amalia was to become.
Otto made a trip to Germany after becoming king, looking for a wife, and Amalia was the bride he chose. On December 22nd, 1836, the day after her eighteenth birthday, Amalia married Otto in Oldenburg. He was just about two years older than her, so thank goodness Amalia wasn’t marrying some weird old man. Amalia was a Lutheran while Otto was Catholic, so they had both a Catholic and Lutheran wedding.
Amalia arrived in Greece with great fanfare. In the beginning, the new monarchs were very popular, and Amalia’s beauty and amazingness certainly helped. She worked to create more gardens in Greece, which became the National Gardens of Athens. And, fun fact, she and her husband were the ones who brought the Christmas tree to Greece.
Amalia and Otto’s household consisted of pretty much just Germans, but they did have a few non-Germans in their household. They had quite a happy life at this point. Amalia was amazing, and the diarist Christiane Luth certainly thought so, since she described Amalia as:
The Queen was small, beautiful and with a lovely figure. She was lively, almost too lively, spoke of various subjects and complimented Greece in favor of the Nordic countries, and was certain that we would very soon be accustomed to this beautiful nation with its lovely climate. […] The Queen was very superstitious, she did not sit down thirteen people at dinner, and was convinced that a white or a black lady appeared before her when an event of importance occurred in Bavaria or Oldenburg. She also believed in reincarnation, and her firm character made it hard to dissuade her from something once she had made up her mind.Christiane Luth
And have you ever heard of the Amalia dress? Well, that has everything to do with our Amalia. Amalia decided to start dressing more Greek-y, which ended with her creating the Amalia dress, a really good-looking court dress. And literally, every lady started wearing the Amalia dress, because everyone else was wearing it, and also because it’s a beautiful dress, and Amalia looks perfect in it.
And then, the perfect life of the Queen of Greece began to become less than perfect. By now, Amalia should’ve given birth to an heir. Both she and her husband were examined and were given suggestions by the doctors, but they never had a child. Otto’s brothers were made his heirs, eventually. Otto took a mistress named Jane Digby, who had also been Otto’s father’s mistress.
Amalia also began to become more and more involved in politics, which, if you know anything about anything, you know that nobody was all that happy about that. On top of that, Amalia was still a Protestant when most people in the country weren’t, so that certainly didn’t help. The once super-popular Queen who seemingly had a perfect life was now no longer seeming so great.
Then, in 1843, there was a little revolution. So, basically, Otto ruled pretty much as an absolute monarch. The people were fine with Otto as the king, but they hated that mostly Germans were governing Greece. They just wanted Otto to come up with a constitution himself. A little revolution that was supposed to take place a long while later happened on September 3rd because literally nobody involved could keep a secret. It wasn’t a bloody revolution or anything, though. Otto just agreed to create a constitution and that was it.
It was quite a distressing time for Amalia, but a few years after it, something good happened that she probably thought was amazing. Amalia was to be regent in case Otto was incapable of ruling, and when Otto went to Germany, in 1850, Amalia became regent of Greece. People thought that Amalia was being influenced by those she trusted, so her rule was unpopular. Otto also visited Bavaria in 1861, and Amalia was regent during that absence as well. After that, everything started going wrong.
In 1861, an assassination attempt was made on Amalia by a student. After the failed attempt, he was sentenced to death, but Amalia intervened and he was instead given life in prison. Some people were really proud of him, and other people started to feel some sympathy for Otto and Amalia. That sympathy kept them on the throne for like, five minutes.
Amalia and Otto were on a visit to the Peloponnese, in 1862, there was an uprising in Athens. Thank goodness they weren’t in Athens, who knows what would’ve happened to them if they were. Anyway, Otto was told that he should definitely not go back to Athens and try and take his throne back, so he and Amalia left for Bavaria on a British warship along with the Bavarian crown jewels. Some people think that if Amalia had had a son, they never would’ve been overthrown.
A guy named George was elected King George I of Greece when he was just seventeen and was eventually assassinated. Amalia and Otto spent the rest of their lives in Bavaria. According to only Wikipedia so far, Amalia and Otto decided that they would speak Greek from six to eight o’clock every day so that they would always remember that they had ruled Greece.
Otto died at the age of 52 in 1867. Eight years later, Amalia died at 56, on May 20th, 1875, and was buried next to Otto. An autopsy was performed on Amalia, but we still do not know why exactly Amalia and Otto never had children. Even after their deaths, people still talked about them. Amaliada and Amaliapolis, a town and a village, are both named for Queen Amalia.