by Susan Flantzer
Princess Caroline Mathilde of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, known as Calma, was born on June 22, 1912, at Callenberg Castle now in Coburg, Bavaria, Germany. She was the younger of the two daughters and the fourth of the five children of Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his wife Viktoria Adelheid of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Calma’s father was the posthumous son of Queen Victoria’s youngest son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany. Therefore, Calma was a great-grandchild of Queen Victoria. Her mother was the daughter of Friedrich Ferdinand, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and his wife Princess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg. Her father was the eldest son of Friedrich, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and a nephew of King Christian IX of Denmark. Calma’s mother was a granddaughter of Princess Feodora of Leiningen, the half-sister of Queen Victoria from their mother’s first marriage.
Calma had four siblings:
- Johann Leopold, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1906 – 1972), married (1) Feodora, Baroness von der Horst, divorced 1962, had three children, unequal marriage, causing Johann Leopold to renounce his rights to be Head of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (2) Maria Theresa Reindl, no children
- Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1908 – 1972), married Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden, Duke of Västerbotten, had five children including King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden whose middle name Hubertus is in honor of his uncle.
- Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1909 – 1943), unmarried, died in action during World War II
- Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1918 – 1998), married (1) Countess Viktoria-Luise of Solms-Baruth, divorced 1947, had one son Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Head of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha descends from this marriage (2) Denyse Henrietta de Muralt, divorced 1964, had three children (3) Katherine Bremme, no issue
Calma was christened Caroline Mathilde Helene Ludwiga Augusta Beatrice on July 25, 1912, at Callenberg Castle. Her godparents were:
- Ludwig, Prince Regent of Bavaria, the future King Ludwig III of Bavaria
- Beatrice of Bourbon-Orleans, Infanta of Spain, Duchess of Galliera, her father’s first cousin, born Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh
Calma married Count Friedrich Wolfgang of Castell-Rüdenhausen, son of Hugo Friedrich of Castell-Rüdenhausen and Clementine of Solms-Sonnenwalde, on December 14, 1931, at Greinburg Castle on the Danube in Austria. The marriage was not a happy one. Eventually, Calma left Friedrich, amid much controversy and scandal, and they were officially divorced on May 2, 1938. In 1940, during World War II, Friedrich was killed in action while flying over England.
Calma and Friedrich had three children:
- Count Bertram Friedrich of Castell-Rüdenhausen (born 1932), married Felicita von Auersperg, had two children
- Count Conradin Friedrich of Castell-Rüdenhausen (1933 – 2011), married Marta Catharina Lonegren, had two children
- Countess Viktoria Adelheid of Castell-Rüdenhausen (born 1935), married Sir John Miles Huntington-Whiteley, 4th Baronet, had three children
On June 22, 1938, in Berlin, Germany, Calma married Captain Max Schnirring, a famous pilot whose aviation career began during World War I. He had been friends with the famous “ Red Baron” Manfred von Richthofen. Max was one of the first pilots for Deutsche Luft Hansa, a precursor to today’s Lufthansa. He also worked as a training supervisor for Focke-Wulf and as a test pilot for Arado. He had crashed four times during his test flights without serious injury. However, during a test flight on July 6, 1944, he crashed in a field near Parow, a village a few miles north of Stralsund in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Max died the next day, at the age of 49, in a hospital in Stralsund, Germany. Calma and Max had three children:
- Calma Barbara Schnirring (born 1938), married (1) Richard Darrell Berger, had six children (2) James Cook, adopted a daughter
- Dagmar Schnirring (born 1940), married (1) Heinrich Walz, had two children, divorced in 1989 (2) married Eberhard Schäl, no children
- Peter Michael Schnirring (1943 – 1966), unmarried
Calma married a third time on December 23, 1946, to Karl Otto Andree. The couple had no children and divorced on October 10, 1949.
After the end of World War II, Calma’s father Charles Edward was placed under house arrest at his residence, the Veste Coburg, because of his Nazi sympathies. In 1949, a denazification appeals court classified Charles Edward as a Nazi Follower, Category IV. He was heavily fined and almost bankrupted. Calma had a difficult time adjusting to her family’s circumstances and became estranged from some of her children. To make ends meet, she became a shoemaker. She had numerous relationships with different men and one relationship caused her to spend some time in prison.
Calma became involved with an engineer and factory owner named Alexander Glascow who had left his wife and five children for her. Glascow was accused of having sex with two underage girls who worked at his factory. One of the girls, just 15-years-old, became pregnant. Calma did not want to lose Glascow and became involved in the situation. She arranged for one of her sons to be named the father and further arranged for the pregnant girl to have an abortion, which was illegal. Unfortunately, the girl died during the abortion. Calma and Glascow were charged with committing a “continuing crime of acquiescence to a serious abortion crime”. On December 21, 1956, both Calma and Glascow were convicted and both spent about six months in prison.
Calma died on September 5, 1983, at the age of 71 in Erlangen, Germany. She was buried in the family cemetery in the forest of Schloss Callenberg.
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