Fine antique snap shot style photograph of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin(1851 - 1897), and his third child and second daughter Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954) aged around ten (centre) performing in a play at their home Villa Wenden in Cannes circa 1896, note the electric spot light.
He was the penultimate Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, born in Schloss Ludwigslust the son of Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and his first wife Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz.
From an early age Friedrich Franz suffered from asthma and severe breathing difficulties. He could not live in the north of Europe and lived instead on the shores of the Mediterranean, where the mild climate agreed with him. His homosexuality was an open secret.
Friedrich Franz's death in Cannes on 10 April 1897 is shrouded in mystery, as he was originally reported to have committed suicide by throwing himself off a parapet of a bridge. According to the official account of his death, however, he was in his garden when he experienced breathing difficulties and staggered around before falling over a low wall. He was succeeded by his son Friedrich Franz IV, who would be the last Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
Friedrich Franz married Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia in St Petersburg on 24 January 1879. The Grand Duchess never became used to her new country where she was unpopular and so they lived amongst other places at Villa Wenden in Cannes. Of neo classic style with a German touch, the building was constructed in 1889, and rises from a garden terrace sustained by a spectacular peripheral wall. She was a keen tennis player, with her own tennis court at the villa.The villa is remarkable and was the first residence in Cannes equipped with electricity and became the winter residence for the family. In 1914 the building was sequestrated and was later turned into luxury apartments and renamed Le Rouve.
Duchess Cecilie was the last German Crown Princess and Crown Princess of Prussia as the wife of German Crown Prince Wilhelm, the son of German Emperor Wilhelm II.
Cecilie was raised with simplicity and her early life was peripatetic spending summers in Mecklenburg and the rest of the year in the south of France. After the death of her father, she traveled every summer between 1898 and 1904 to her mother's native Russia. On 6 June 1905, she married German Crown Prince Wilhelm. The couple had four sons and two daughters. Cecile, tall and statuesque, became popular in Germany for her sense of style. However, her husband was a womanizer and the marriage was unhappy.
After the fall of the German monarchy, at the end of World War I, Cecile and her husband lived mostly apart. During the Weimar Republic and the Nazi period, Cecilie lived a private life mainly at Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam. With the advance of the Soviet troops, she left Cecilienhof to never come back in February 1945. She settled in Bad Kissingen until 1952 when she moved to an apartment in the Frauenkopf district of Stuttgart. In 1952, she published a book of memoirs. She died two years later.
Size: 10 x 7.5 cm approx