News News from Hungary Queen Eliz­a­beth II, Whose Great-Great-Grand­moth­er was Hun­gar­i­an, Cel­e­brates 95th Birthday

Queen Eliz­a­beth II, Whose Great-Great-Grand­moth­er was Hun­gar­i­an, Cel­e­brates 95th Birthday

Queen of Great Britain, Eliz­a­beth II, is now 95 years old. It is not well-known that she also has Hun­gar­i­an blood: her great-great-grand­moth­er was Klau­dia Rhédey, a count­ess born in Tran­syl­va­nia. Her hus­band, the recent­ly deceased Prince Philip, also had a spe­cial rela­tion­ship with Hun­gary, and vis­it­ed the coun­try sev­er­al times. “Hun­gar­i­an links” are still present in fam­i­ly life today: Prince Charles has been vis­it­ing Tran­syl­va­nia reg­u­lar­ly since 1988, and owns a coun­try house in the vil­lage of Zalánpatak.


Accord­ing to con­tem­po­rary reports, Tran­syl­van­ian Count­ess Klau­dia Rhédey was a beau­ti­ful woman. But her fame is more based on the fact that her descen­dants wear the Eng­lish crown. Her son, Prince Teck, mar­ried an Eng­lish princess, whose child Princess Maria, became the wife of King George V. And now it is her grand­daugh­ter, Eliz­a­beth II, who sits on the British throne.

Klau­dia Rhédey was bap­tized as Zsuzsan­na Clo­d­i­na on Sep­tem­ber 21, 1812 in the Reformed Church of Erdőszent­györ­gy in Tran­syl­va­nia. Her father, Count Lás­zló Rhédey (1775−1835), was a landown­er and diplo­mat; her moth­er was Baroness Ágnes Inczédy from Nagyvárad (Oradea). The beau­ti­ful count­ess Klau­dia met her future hus­band, Prince Alexan­der von Würt­tem­berg, at a car­ni­val ball in Vien­na. Accord­ing to the leg­end, they fell in love at first sight. How­ev­er, the mar­riage still had to wait. Her strict father refused the mar­riage pro­pos­al because the prince could not speak Hun­gar­i­an. It took the man in love five years to learn the Hun­gar­i­an lan­guage, and so they were final­ly able to get mar­ried on May 2, 1835. Klau­dia got the title “Count­ess von Hohenstein.”

The cheer­ful, lov­able woman could only live in a hap­py mar­riage for six years when she died unex­pect­ed­ly in a horse acci­dent. Her hus­band could nev­er for­get her. Accord­ing to his will, Klau­dia was buried in the grave of the Rhédey fam­i­ly in the Reformed church in Erdőszent­györ­gy. In her mem­o­ry, a memo­r­i­al plaque was erect­ed in 1905 by the wife of the heir to the throne, who lat­er became King George V.

The rela­tion­ship with Hun­gary and Tran­syl­va­nia remained strongest with Elizabeth’s son, Prince Charles. He has been vis­it­ing Tran­syl­va­nia reg­u­lar­ly since 1988, and even owns a home in the vil­lage of Zalán­patak, where the Prince spends a few days every year. The British heir to the throne vis­its Tran­syl­va­nia almost every year and is also the patron of sev­er­al projects that are com­mit­ted to the preser­va­tion of nature, tra­di­tion­al agri­cul­ture, and the archi­tec­ture of Transylvania.

Charles, Prince of Wales drinks pálin­ka in Sep­sikőrös­patak in Tran­syl­va­nia, 2018, Pho­to: Edit Kátai/MTI

Prince Charles also brought a lit­tle piece of “Hun­gary” to Great Britain when the Hun­gar­i­an folk group “Sza­lon­na és bandá­ja” played in Buck­ing­ham Palace on his 70th birth­day. The leader of the band, István Pál “Sza­lon­na,” also con­firmed after the cel­e­bra­tion that the roy­al fam­i­ly appre­ci­ates Hun­gar­i­an folk music so much that his band had been invit­ed to Great Britain many times since.

Queen Eliz­a­beth also vis­it­ed Hun­gary sev­er­al times, the last time in 1993. The Queen and her hus­band, Prince Philip, arrived in Budapest on May 4, 1993, where they were received by then Pres­i­dent of Hun­gary, Árpád Göncz.  They not only vis­it­ed the cap­i­tal, but also Kecskemét and Bugac. They were greet­ed with Hun­gar­i­an music and pálin­ka. Accord­ing to reports, Prince Philip was very impressed by the latter.

The recent­ly deceased hus­band of the Queen, Prince Philip, was also enthu­si­as­tic about Hun­gary: He had vis­it­ed the coun­try more often, with his love of hors­es being one of the prime rea­sons, among oth­ers. In 1973, he vis­it­ed Bábol­na, where he took part in the famous horse-rid­ing demon­stra­tions. Five years lat­er he took part in the four-man world cham­pi­onships in Kecskemét, but he fell over at an obsta­cle. He returned to Hun­gary for the 1984 World Cup and a state vis­it in 1993 with the Queen.

Prince Philip in Hun­gary, 1973. Pho­to via Fortepan / Bojár Sándor

Some descen­dants of Klau­dia Rhédey are said to have lived in Miskolc in north­ern Hun­gary for a long time, but unfor­tu­nate­ly very lit­tle infor­ma­tion is avail­able about them.

Fea­tured pho­to by Neil Hall/EPA/MTI

Source: hun​gary​to​day​.hu