Queen Victoria’s daughters
Queen Victoria had nine children and understandably, the one who is the most well-known was Albert Edward, her eldest son who became King Edward VII when Victoria died in 1901.
Little is generally known about her daughters however.
In most cases,they married into European royalty. Queen Victoria wanted her daughters to marry for love – as she had done herself – but that didn’t mean that they were permitted to marry just anyone.
Suitors for the royal princesses had to be of good royal birth and the queen involved herself closely in finding suitable husbands for her girls.
The eldest, Vicky was born in 1840 and her youngest sister Beatrice was seventeen years younger so Victoria was kept busy finding husbands for many years.
Prince Albert was still alive when it became time to think about Vicky’s husband. It was quite natural for the aristocracy to start thinking about their children’s marriages from an early age.
Vicky was lucky. Her parent selected the young Prince Frederick William of Prussia a sa suitable match and Vicky, although only a girl at their first meeting, got on well with the young man. She was seventeen when they couple married and the liaison was a successful one. When Frederick arose to the throne on his father’s death, Vicky became the Crown Princess of Prussia. Her eldest son was Kaiser Wilhelm.
The queen recruited her newly-married eldest daughter Vicky to help draw up a shortlist of men who would be suitable to marry Princess Alice. Alice was probably the most compassionate of the queen’s daughters and had nursed her father lovingly during his final illness. Of the shortlist of a mere two that Vicky produced, Alice rejected them both.
But she did get on well with a further selection from lower down the pool, Prince Louis of Hesse. They had a miserable wedding.Prince Albert had recently died and the court was in deep mourning. The couple had seven children and probably the best known was her daughter Alix, who married Tsar Nicholas II. The members of the ill-fated Russian family were all executed by revolutionaries in July 1918.
Helena was always known within the family as Lenchen. Finding a husband for her was problematic for the queen. The older sisters had been more desirable for several reasons but Lenchen has no seniority in the family, as Vicky had as the eldest daughter. Alice was undoubtedly attractive, unlike Lenchen was was rather dumpy.
To outsiders,Lenchen’s choice of husband seemed to have few attractions. Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein was older than his bride (but looked considerably older than he really was, he was impoverished (in royalty terms) and having just left the army, was jobless. ButLenchen fell hook,line and sinker and was determined to marry the prince.But the couple had a close and happy marriage, producing six children.
Louise was the most strong-minded of Victoria’s daughters. She was an accomplished painter and sculptor who was permitted by the queen to study at the National Art Training School. She acted as a secretary to the queen and as such, was invaluable.Therefore when Victoria was considering the choice of husband, it was preferable that she found someone home-grown who would not whisk his wife away to foreign parts.
Once she reached her early twenties,Louise’s unmarried state was causing comment and she was seen as being an old maid. Louise was attractive,intelligent and well-dressed – why wasn’t she married, they asked? Vicky, as always, was recruited to help but when Louise was introduced to various men, nothing quite clicked. Despite the fact that no member of the royal family had married a subject of the sovereign for over 350 years, Louise married John, Marquess of Lorne. The marriage was happy initially but ultimately became one of companionship only, the couple spending long periods of time apart. They had no children.
The queen was determined that one of her daughtersshould remain unmarried to care for her in her old age. As the youngest, this fell to Beatrice. So concerned was the queen that she refused to let Beatrice spend even a moment alone with any man, not even her brothers. As Beatrice grew to adulthood, subjects relating to relationships were banned in Beatrice’s presence – no one was permitted to speak about marriages, engagements or relationship gossip.
But Beatrice fell crazily in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg and launched a campaign of persuasion on her mother. It worked. Beatrice and Henry were allowed to marry on the condition that they would live with the queen and that Beatrice would remain on hand. The couple agreed. The queen fervently hoped that the couple would not have children as she disliked the idea of ‘little Battenbergs’ running around her residences but nevertheless, the couple had four children.
Henry was frequently restless though and eventually he persuaded the queen to let him go to Africa to participate in the Ashanti expedition. There he contracted a jungle fever and died on the voyage home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR