Monday, April 26, 2010

'Kaiserin Friedrich' Rose

This is 'Kaiserin Friedrich's' prettiest bloom yet. I love how it varies between peach and pink. According to the sadly defunct Peaceful Habitations rose garden in central Texas, I can expect repeat blooms on this one throughout the growing season.

KF is named for this girl:

That's Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, also named Victoria (but called Vicky). I wrote about her in my dissertation--she's my favorite of QV's five daughters, and was the most progressive and accomplished of her sisters, though also, perhaps, the saddest. In the pic above, she has just triumphantly married the Crown Prince of Prussia, Frederick (Fritz to the family), and the two are headed off to Germany. It's a picture I always find so sad. They look like what they are--two young, naive children, about to stumble into a vicious and toxic political environment for which they are utterly unprepared. Somehow, even before they've left England, they already look lost.

Vicky was intellectually gifted with an interest in the sciences, promoted female education, ran in literary and artistic circles, and supported the professionalization of nursing. Her parents thought that she and Fritz would introduce a new era of British-style liberalization to militarized, authoritarian, rigidly stratified Prussia. But this was Bismarck-era Prussia: they were completely outclassed in terms of cut-throat machinations, and the most powerful elements of society were united in their rejection of Jews, Catholics, educated women, working women, lefties, education for the working classes, social mobility, and also the British. Ouch. (I may be exaggerating slightly. I'm no longer in academia--I'm under no obligation to maintain a measured critical distance.)

Bismarck and Fritz's reactionary father (combined with Vicky & Fritz's problematic parenting skills) seduced Vicky's emotionally unstable eldest to the Dark Side (i.e., the Junkers and other feudal-minded war-mongering jerkfaces). Then Fritz died prematurely and horribly of throat cancer. And then her whack-job eldest became Kaiser Wilhelm and spent his spare time smearing his parents. Then Vicky was marginalized and also developed cancer, which attacked her spine and she died a slow lingering death in torment. Then Willy engaged in a bunch of asinine chest-thumping military one-upsmanship with with his uncle, Edward VII of England, and got Germany embroiled in WWI, which led to Hitler and Nazis and WWII. So. Sad story.

However, at least some people held the same ambitions for Prussia/Germany as Vicky and Fritz. And when poor Vicky died, some of these presumably sympathetic folks bred a lovely Tea (or Noisette--there seems to be some disagreement) rose and named it in her honor. Thus the graceful and elegant and surprisingly tough 'Kaiserin Friedrich.'

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