Hilda von Nassau in profile, circa 1910

An eventful lifeHilda von Nassau

The last grand duchess of Baden, Hilda von Nassau (1864–1952), had an eventful life. Her biography stretches from the monarchy, across two world wars, to the early years of the Federal Republic.

Hilda von Nassau, portrait circa 1885

Hilda during her youth.

Where did Hilda von Nassau spend her childhood?

Hilda was born on November 5, 1864, the youngest daughter of Duke Adolf I von Nassau, and it was not long before she was confronted with politics: Prussia annexed the Duchy of Nassau in 1866, after the Prussian-Austrian war. Despite this, the princess's childhood was happy. In September 1885, she married Friedrich von Baden, the grandson of the Prussian king and German emperor. The Hereditary Grand Duke had dedicated himself to a military career. As his wife, Hilda accompanied her husband wherever he was stationed. Their marriage remained childless.

What was the last grand duchess like?

Contemporary accounts give an inconsistent view of the last grand duchess of Baden. Hilda often appeared reserved, but was also considered frank and friendly. The dedicated grand duchess, who supported the women's association of Baden among other projects, was beloved by her people. She had a special interest in art, which she pursued through numerous visits to museums and studio tours.

But what about government?

After Friedrich II left the army in 1902, the couple moved to Karlsruhe. However, they lived in the palais of the Hereditary Grand Duchy, not the palace, the grand duchess's mother-in-law had no interest in a dispute on the subject. Hilda and her husband ascended the throne of Baden in 1907. However, in 1918, after World War I, Friedrich II abdicated, and the pair moved back to Freiburg and Badenweiler. This is where the grand duke died in 1928.

Großherzogliche Grabkapelle Karlsruhe, Grabmal Großherzogin Hilda
Großherzogliche Grabkapelle Karlsruhe, Grabmal Großherzog Friedrich II.

The two tombs in the Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy commemorate Grand Duchess Hilda and her husband, Grand Duke Friedrich II von Baden.

The Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy in Karlsruhe, aerial view

Hilda and Friedrich were interred here.

And what remains of Hilda today?

After her husband's death, Grand Duchess Hilda led a secluded life in Badenweiler, where she died on February 8, 1952. She was interred next to her husband in the crypt of the Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy in Karlsruhe. Her coffin can still be viewed there today. The once beloved grand duchess is not only the namesake of schools and streets in Karlsruhe or Schwetzingen, but also for delicious Hilda cookies!

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