January 26, 1899
The Marquise de Fontenoy reports today that "love and marriage are likely to interfere" with Prince Luigi of Italy, Duke of the Abruzzi's projected expedition to the North Pole. The prince recently spent several weeks in St. Petersburg, where he "devoted most of his time to visiting" the widowed Empress Marie and her two young children, Grand Duke Michael and Grand Duchess Olga, at Gatchina.
He has now returned home to Italy rather unexpectedly for the purpose of obtaining his uncle, King Umberto's consent, to a marriage between himself and Grand Duchess Olga, youngest sister of the present Russian Emperor.
It appears that Prince Luigi has "made a favorable impression" on Empress Marie and her 17-year-old daughter. This impression may be "ascribed in great measure to his manly studious character and to his father serious disposition." He has completed "remarkable feats of mountaineering," including a record ascent on Mt. St Elias in Alaska. He is also "undoubtedly the best of the younger generation of the Italian princes." Nicholas II "could not wish for a better brother-in-law.
The match would be a "most advantageous one" for Italy, and in one respect, the marriage would "serve to consolidate its position in more senses than one." Most people are not aware of the fact, but the Russian Court "has been practically the only one in Europe that has abstained from according to full recognition to the new order of things in Italy."
Both Nicholas II and his later father, Alexander III, were strong "champions of legitimacy" in regards to "everything that pertained to the monarchical system" and have regarded the present reigning house of Italy as usurpers.
Alexander II bestowed the Order of St. George on the ex-King and Queen of Naples as an "avowed token of his profound admiration for the gallantry of their defense of the fortress of Gaeta against King Victor Emanuel."
Nicholas II, however, is keen to establish more cordial relations with the Italian court. he provided Princess Elena of Montenegro with a "rich dowry" when she married Crown Prince Vittorio Emanuele."