The second wife of Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg, Princess Adelheid-Marie was born on December 25, 1833, in Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, now in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Prince Friedrich Augustus of Anhalt-Dessau and Princess Marie Luise Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel. Her mother Princess Marie Luise Charlotte was the elder sister of Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel, the wife of King Christian IX of Denmark. Therefore, Adelheid-Marie was the first cousin of Princess Louise and King Christian IX’s children: King Frederick VIII of Denmark, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, King George I of Greece, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, Thyra, Crown Princess of Hanover, and Prince Valdemar.
- Princess Bathildis of Anhalt-Dessau ( 1837 – 1902), married Prince William of Schaumburg-Lippe, had issue
- Princess Hilda of Anhalt-Dessau (1839 – 1926), unmarried
On 23 April 1851, Princess Adelheid-Marie married Adolphe, who was then Duke of Nassau. Six years earlier, Adolphe’s first wife Grand Duchess Elisabeth Mikhailovna of Russia had died in childbirth along with her daughter. Adolphe and Adelheid-Marie had five children, but only two lived to adulthood:
- Wilhelm (Guillaume) IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (1852–1912), married Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal, had issue
- Prince Friedrich of Nassau (1854 – 1855)
- Princess Marie of Nassau (born and died 1857)
- Prince Franz Joseph of Nassau (1859 – 1875)
- Princess Hilda of Nassau (1864–1952), married Friedrich II, Grand Duke of Baden, no surviving issue
The Duchy of Nassau supported the Austrian Empire in the Austro-Prussian War (1866). After Austria lost the war, the Duchy of Nassau was annexed to Prussia and Adolph lost his duchy. Adolph did make an agreement with Prussia for a severance payment and was also able to keep several of his palaces.
During its history, Luxembourg has been a part of a number of countries. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Luxembourg was made a Grand Duchy and united with The Netherlands. In 1839, following the Belgian Revolution, the Treaty of London partitioned territories and created the new Kingdom of Belgium and the new Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was still united with the Netherlands and King Willem I of the Netherlands was still Grand Duke of Luxembourg. This rule continued until the death of King Willem III of the Netherlands in 1890. His successor was his daughter Wilhelmina, who could not inherit the throne of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg due to the Salic Law which prevented female succession. Through the Nassau Family Pact, Adolph became the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Adelheid-Marie became the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg on November 23, 1890.
Adolphe died on November 17, 1905, at the age of 88. Adelheid-Marie survived him by 11 years dying on November 24, 1916, at the age of 82 in Königstein im Taunus, Kingdom of Prussia, now in Hesse, Germany. She was buried with her husband at the burial chapel of Schloss Weilburg, the former residence of the House of Nassau and Dukes of Nassau-Weilburg.