Monument to eternal love

The Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill

Inschrift über dem Eingang der Grabkapelle; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Nina Kreckel
A LOVE STORY ON THE EUROPEAN STAGE

THE GRAND DUCHESS AND

THE CROWN PRINCE

In 1814, Europe's eyes were on Vienna. Those with a title and rank at the Congress of Vienna attended the many social occasions and gossiped. Love affairs between famous people such as Katharina and Wilhelm were of particular interest.

Portrait of Queen Katharina. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Roland Rossner

Katharina met Wilhelm on her travels.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

After the death of her first husband, Grand Duchess Katharina Pawlowna traveled across Europe. In the spring of 1814, while in England, she crossed paths with the then married Crown Prince Wilhelm von Württemberg. Within a short time, an intimate relationship developed between them.

King Wilhelm I, oil painting, Hetsch, circa 1800. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

Wilhelm impressed the young grand duchess.

KATHARINA IN VIENNA

At the Congress of Vienna, held between September 1814 and June 1815, approximately 200 states and sovereigns negotiated the reorganization of Europe following Napoleon's defeat. The Russian grand duchess's presence, appearance and witty demeanor aroused a great deal of attention. It was rumored that Grand Duchess Maria Pawlowna had won every heart, but Grand Duchess Katharina took them by storm.

GOSSIP

Relations between Katharina and the Crown Prince of Württemberg became more and more intense over the course of the Congress. There was much speculation about the lovers' future. There was even talk of an imperial German crown. Historian Heinrich von Treitschke surmised: "...a new age would dawn in Germany, originating from the Stuttgart court." The gossip about Katharina and Wilhelm was also visibly amusing to Congress participants.

Katharina von Württemberg, painting by Stirnbrand, circa 1816. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger
King Wilhelm I von Württemberg, painting by Stieler, circa 1816. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger

Katharina and Wilhelm were a hot topic and the source of much speculation.

Busts of Queen Katharina and King Wilhelm I at the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Roland Rossner

The sepulchral chapel is a reminder of the couple's love for each other.

THE DREAM COUPLE

Katharina and Wilhelm were seen strolling through Vienna's Prater in the evening hours, quite in love, or promenading in the park. They are also supposed to have gone on several sleigh rides. At a grand celebration in honor of Katharina's name day, Wilhelm presented her with the first prize from a raffle. The grand duchess and the crown prince were considered the dream couple of the Congress of Vienna and it was assumed that a wedding was imminent. In 1816, after the dissolution of Wilhelm's marriage, the time had finally come.