In this week’s seemingly random blog post (and when is this blog not random, I ask you), I’m going to start a brief rundown of each of Queen Victoria’s nine children. Having nine children, Victoria and Albert were able to marry their kids to various royals across Europe. And while 2019 is the bicentenary of Victoria’s birth (and Albert’s birth too, three months after his wife’s birthday), their children, grandchildren, and so on continue to influence European royaldom today!
This post covers the first three.
Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on June 20, 1837, the day her uncle King William IV died. She married her first cousin (on her German mother’s side; in essence, Victoria was German on both sides of her family) Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on February 10, 1840, at St. James’s Palace, London.
|The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840,
by George Hayter
Their first child was born on November 21, 1840: Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, Princess Royal. Vicky, as she was nicknamed, was a bright, precocious child. Vicky was very close to her father. She met her future husband Prince Frederick of Prussia when the Prussians came over to London for the Great Exhibition. They married in 1858 in London before the couple moved to Berlin. Vicky kept up a steady correspondence with her parents for the rest of her life. She and Frederick, who became the German Crown Prince when Germany unified, had eight children, including Kaiser Wilhelm II. Vicky did not get along with at least half of her kids, especially Wilhelm and Charlotte. (This not getting along with your kids thing seems to be a Hanoverian family tradition.) Vicky complained that her daughter Charlotte was slow and crazy.
|Queen Victoria with Princess Victoria, 1844-45|
(Incidentally, scientists tested the remains of Princess Charlotte of Prussia and her daughter and confirmed that they suffered from porphyria, the condition George III–Queen Victoria’s grandfather–suffered from.)
Frederick became German Emperor in 1888, making Vicky an Empress (she outranked her mother!), but Frederick was ill from throat cancer and died after only ninety-nine days on the throne.
Vicky herself died in 1901 from breast cancer, a few months after her mother’s death. The deposed Greek royal family descend from her as do various German formerly noble families.
|King Edward VII|
Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII was born on November 9, 1841. Bertie, as he was known, vexed his parents for most of his life. As the heir to the British throne, Bertie had a lot of pressure and expectations heaped on him along with comparisons to his brighter older sister Vicky.
In 1860, Bertie went on tour to North America where his charisma and charm made the tour a real success. Bertie was a bit of a playboy, though. One of his escapades caused Prince Albert to pay him a visit at Cambridge to scold the prince. Albert got sick and died two weeks later and Victoria blamed Bertie.
Bertie married Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863, but continued his many many affairs. His mistresses included Lillie Langtry, Sarah Bernhardt, Lady Randolph Churchill (yep, Winston’s mom), Alice Keppel, among others.
Queen Victoria refused to share anything political with her son, so Bertie carried on partying with his social set. He helped found the Royal College of Music. He went on a long tour of India in 1875. He finally became king in 1901–the Edwardian Era is named after him. He died in 1910.
Edward and Alexandra had six children. Edward VII is Elizabeth II’s great-grandfather. The Norwegian royal family also descends from Edward VII through his daughter Maud.
|Alice and her husband Louis|
Victoria’s third child was Princess Alice Maud Mary, born on April 25, 1843. Alice was apparently a very sensitive and temperamental child. As she grew, Alice cared for her grandmother the Duchess of Kent in the old lady’s final days and cared for Queen Victoria after Albert’s death in 1861.
Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse, a German principality, in 1862. In 1863, she gave birth to her first child Victoria at Windsor Castle. When Alice decided to breastfeed her second child, Ella, Queen Victoria was disgusted (despite having nine kids, Victoria hated being pregnant, suffered from post-partum depression, and didn’t like infants).
Prussia and Austria got into a war and Hesse sided with the Austrians, making Alice and her sister Victoria the German Crown Princess enemies for a bit. When Austria lost, Prussia took over Hessian territory.
In 1875, Alice’s son Frederick, a hemophiliac, died when he fell out of a window.
Louis of Hesse became the Grand Duke of Hesse and Alice became the Grand Duchess. She had a great interest in nursing and founded hospitals and nursing corps. She nursed her children in 1878 when they fell ill with diptheria–one of her daughters died from that–and Alice herself grew ill, dying on December 14, 1878, the seventeenth anniversary of her father Prince Albert’s death.
Alice and Louis’s children married into the Prussian/German Imperial family, the Russian Imperial Family, and their oldest daughter married Prince Louis of Battenberg. Three of their grandsons suffered from hemophilia. Their descendants include the dead Romanov children, the Mountbattens, some deposed Greek royalty (like Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh–Queen Elizabeth II’s husband), and some deposed German royalty.