Monday, May 3, 2010

The Devoted Daughter

Nicknamed 'Baby' by her devoted mother, Princess Beatrice was Queen Victoria's last child. She was a merry and amusing, but quiet child. Queen Victoria was incredibly attached to the little girl and indulged her more than her other children.

Beatrice's father died when she was only 4. She became withdrawn when her father died. Her only company was her brother, Prince Leopold, who was a haemophiliac so he had to be somewhat protected. This must have been hard for the little princess to understand. She grew up to be very shy.

Princess Beatrice declared that: "I shall never be married." "I shall stay with mother," she said. Queen Victoria may have had other ideas when Beatrice was young because there were rumours that she wanted the princess to marry Louis, Prince Imperial, Empress Eugenie's son. Unfortunately, the good-looking young man was killed in 1879 in the Anglo-Zulu War.

Queen Victoria wanted Princess Beatrice to stay with her after that, and keep her company. She was very surprised when the princess fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. There were many recriminations but Beatrice insisted on the marriage. For a long time, mother and daughter communicated by written notes!

Princess Vicky intervened on Princess Beatrice's behalf. She reminded the Queen that Beatrice was lonely. She said that her mother had often told her how lonely she was before she met Prince Albert. Queen Victoria also liked 'Liko' so she gave her permission for the marriage.

The Queen insisted that the couple live with her and that the Prince should give up his career in the Army. She wanted Princess Beatrice to remain her unofficial private secretary and confidante. The couple agreed and they were married in 1885. In 1886 their first son, Alexander, was born. Soon they also had a daughter, Victoria Eugenie, who had a 'meeting with destiny' ahead.

Princess Beatrice had two more sons, Leopold and Maurice. Her husband died of fever in 1896 at the Battle of Ashanti. Poor Princess Beatrice was utterly distraught and acted very strangely for a time. Eventually she continued her charity work for the Red Cross and she became governor of the Isle of Wight. (This position was inherited from her husband.)

The Princess lived to see her daughter become Queen of Spain. Unfortunately, in 1931 Republicanism was on the rise in Spain and King Alfonso XIII decided to abdicate in order to avoid civil war. Queen Ena died ten years before her grandson became King of Spain.

Princess Beatrice had a sad life. Two of her sons died. Maurice was killed in the Great War and Leopold died of haemophilia. By this time, she'd also lost many of her siblings.

In 1931 the Princess fell and broke two bones in her arm. She declined after that, suffering from lameness and cataracts. Her last two years were spent at Branbridge Park, Sussex, with Helena's daughters.

Queen Ena arrived to say goodbye to her mother when she became ill for the last time. A converted bomber was sent to fetch her from Switzerland because it was 1944. Princess Beatrice was 87. She is buried at the Isle of Wight beside her husband.


Amy said...

Interesting post! I am trying to learn as much as I can about Victoria's daughters, so thanks for all the information!

Viola said...

Hi Amy,
Thank you so much. You may find the book, 'Queen Victoria's Children' by John van der Kiste, helpful. I relied on it a lot.

skirmishofwit said...

What an interesting post! I knew little about the Princess so enjoyed learning more.

Viola said...

Thank you very much, Skirmish of Wit.
I've featured your post about the Princess Grace Exhibition, but I must add a photo!

Kittie Howard said...

Oh, Viola, Princess Beatrice seems so sad, only truly happy for a little while. And yet, how far she lived into the 19th century. One doesn't ordinarly think of Queen Victoria's children touching so close to our grandparent/parent era. Lovely post, as always! (And I hope you win the Tudor prize. You should; you're a walking encyclopedia of that era!!)

Cheryl Anderson Brown said...

Thanks for the great post! I recently read Matthew Dennison's "The Last Princess" about Beatrice. A lot of good information although I didn't enjoy the author's style--particularly is habit of presuming the reader already knew the outcome of things; it caused him to skip some bits I thought should have been included and to tell me the ending before I knew the beginning. Nevertheless, a recommended read if you want to know more about Beatrice.

Viola said...

Hello Kitty,

Thank you very much! I tend to get Wolsey, Cranmer, and Cromwell a bit mixed up, so I don't think that I'm really an expert on the Tudors! I will be when I've finished. lol!


Thank you very much for recommending the book about Beatrice. I've got it from the library, and I hope to read it soon.

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