Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Queen Victoria's Family Pictures

All 9 children together at The Rosenau near Colburg to honor their father, Prince Albert, August, 1865. (Back row) Princess Louise, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (Bertie); (front row) Prince Leopold (who, lame at the time, leans on a chair), Princess Alice, Princess Beatrice, Princess Victoria (Vicky) of Prussia; (standing) Prince Alfred (Affie), Princess Helena (Lenchen), (sitting cross legged in front) Prince Arthur {Photos: Royal Collection Trust}

In Great Britain Victoria, season 2 returns to television on Sunday August 27, 2017. A Christmas special will follow that I can't wait to see, knowing that Prince Albert, the Queen's husband, introduced the tradition of Christmas trees to his adopted country.

Season 2 won't air in America until February, 2018; but fans can watch it online with the Brits if they search for it. I don't feel naughty for doing so, as I will watch the series again when it airs here on PBS, which after all is free TV. (Why doesn't the series air simultaneously? Is it a matter of business and contracts?)

Standing: Prince Louis of Hesse (husband of Alice), Prince Alfred, Princess Helena, Alexandra, the Princess of Wales (wife of Bertie), Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (Bertie), Princess Louise, Prince Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (their uncle and Albert's brother), Prince Arthur, Princess Victoria of Prussia. Seated: Princess Alexandrine, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia (husband of Vicky), Prince Leopold (on Fritz's lap) and Princess Alice at The Rosenau near Colburg, August, 1865. 
Louise, Beatrice, Alice, Alfred, Bertie, Arthur, Helena, Leopold and Vicky - at The Rosenau, August, 1865

The screenwriter, Daisy Goodwin, says season 2 is set in the 1840s, with Queen Victoria juggling consecutive pregnancies, young children and her husband with her job of [constitutionally] ruling an empire. In Europe, the 1840s were years of "revolution, famine and unrest." Even in England, there were hostile republican groups in favor of abolishing the monarchy.
Left photo: Bertie (who became King Edward VII), Vicky, Queen Victoria, Alfred, and Alice, 1854; right photo: Helena, Queen Victoria and Louise, 1850.

I adore these photos of Queen Victoria's domestic life. Prince Albert and the Queen took to photography, recognizing its value in getting images of their family out to her subjects, connecting the public to the Crown. They look very middle class, but in reality had a huge staff of nurses, tutors, maids, ladies-in-waiting and equerries to assist them, not to mention palaces and castles to occupy in London, Windsor, the Isle of Wight and Scotland. By royal standards though, the Queen and Prince Consort were involved parents.
Left photo: 1854 - Queen Victoria with her favorite son, Prince Arthur (7th child, born 1850) and 2 of her ladies-in-waiting. As a child Arthur charmed the court and visitors with cute remarks. When younger brother, Leopold, was born in 1853, nurses reported, Arthur "talks to him like an old woman," calling his brother, "my baby." Victoria wrote that Arthur was "more dear than all the rest put together." Right photo: Prince Albert, Princess Alice, Queen Victoria holding Prince Arthur; (Back corner) Crown Prince Frederick (Friz) of Prussia, Princess Victoria (Vicky). In white hats: Princess Helena, Princess Louise, and Prince Alfred, 1857.

Between 1840-1857 Victoria bore 9 children. She hated being pregnant, but in her era the only effective method of contraception was abstinence. What's more, a dynasty has a duty to produce heirs.
Vicky and Arthur in the Tableau of Dreams, 1854
The cast of Tableau of Dreams dressed as seasons: Princess Alice  (Spring), Arthur with Victoria, the Princess Royal (Summer), Princess Helena (Holding a cross as A Spirit Empress), Prince Alfred with Princess Louise (Autumn), Prince Albert Edward (Winter), May 24, 1854 on the occasion of their mother's birthday.
Prince Albert was a strict, yet loving father. He oversaw the children's education, implementing a rigorous academic curriculum. The oldest child, Vicky, thrived, while her brothers Bertie and Alfred (Affie) less so. The children spoke fluent English, German and French, as well as, studied Greek and Latin. Additionally, the children took lessons in music, painting and drawing, recited poetry and put on plays to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. The girls learned to cook and bake; and all of the children planted their own vegetable gardens. Affie was mechanically minded and skilled at building forts. The boys played soldiers. Queen Victoria thought Prince Albert was perfect and after his death, tried to follow what she interpreted as his plans in raising their children. But the youngsters' world darkened, as they were engulfed in their mother's prolonged period of mourning.

Left photo: 1854 - Prince Alfred (4th child, born 1844) - At his own request his parents let him join the royal navy at age 14. At 17, Affie was away at sea, when Prince Albert died in 1861. Queen Victoria never forgave Affie, her 2nd son, for having affairs as a young man. She was critical of him throughout his life. A boy leaving home at 14 is so very young, though the Prince had a happy naval career. Right photo: September, 1854 - Arthur and Alfred dressed as Skeikh Princes at Osbourne. Four year old Arthur is a little ham! Often visitors to the nursery noticed the 7th child's charisma.

There is no doubt Queen Victoria loved her children (and they loved her), but she was not a natural mother. She was not only their mother, but their sovereign, a trump card she was quick to use when provoked. For all her faults as a mother, she gets cut a little slack. After Albert left her a widow at the young age of 42, she had 8 unmarried children at home. Princess Alice and Prince Albert Edward (Bertie) married within two years, according to the paths their father had sanctioned for them.
Another snap of Arthur and Alfred dressed as Sheikh Princes at Osbourne, 1854
Prince Leopold, Princess Beatrice and Prince Arthur at Osbourne, 1958
Princess Helena, Princess Louise, Prince Leopold and Princess Alice at Balmoral, 1860
It left Queen Victoria with 6 young children to make all the decisions for their well being as a single mother. Granted she had wealth, resources and servants to help her, but still her family's health, education, moral and social development -- their futures rested solely on her shoulders. It had to overwhelm her at times. She was especially fearful when upper-crust boys (i.e., princes) became young men. She believed all too often they grew aimless, reckless and immoral "running up to London" with the wrong set of people. Certainly, only a strong-willed woman could soldier the responsibility of a big brood. According to her biographers, she was a domineering mother. 

Left photo: 1865 - Prince Leopold (8th child, born 1853). Like his sisters Vicky and Alice he was studious and very intelligent. He was a gifted pianist and could paint and draw; right photo: 1866 - Princess Louise (6th child, born 1848). All of Victoria's children could sketch and paint. Louise stood out, becoming a professional sculptress.

Her children hated to disappoint her or incur her wrath. She had a mighty temper and did not like to be contradicted. She had few expectations of Bertie and Affie, who were, in fact, "running up to London," to have a randy good time. Leopold had an independent, feisty nature (but not wild like his brothers). He was miserable to be smothered and criticized as if he did. Helena (Lenchen) and Beatrice (Baby) were the most submissive children. Poor Beatrice (age 4 when Albert died) was raised to submit to her mother's needs over her own. Still ... Victoria loved them, guided them in good faith (if sometimes unfairly or selfishly), selected tutors and caretakers mindfully and allowed each child to marry for love. 
Princesses Alice (3rd child, born 1843) and Helena (5th child, born 1846), 1860. Both sisters played the piano beautifully (like Leopold, Beatrice and their parents).
When the Queen's children persisted in something they desired to do, if they took their mother on with tact and patient diplomacy, she would listen and at times relent (always with a written list of her conditions); however give in she would do, if the child strongly wished to pursue an interest or purpose. Thus Princess Louise attended a public art school (the first royal to do so and married a subject over a foreign prince); Prince Leopold (despite his setbacks with hemophilia and mild fits) was allowed to attend Oxford University, plus marry; and youngest child, Beatrice, (who Victoria groomed to stay unmarried at home with her) was also permitted to marry after a 7-month battle of silence and wills. With the shock announcement that Princess Beatrice had fallen for Prince Henry of Battenberg, Queen Victoria stopped speaking to her most devoted daughter. Written notes were passed between them during the feud at the breakfast table! Moreover, Princess Beatrice continued (as required!) to work as her mother's private secretary. It seems cruel to a modern reader.
Prince Leopold, Princess Louise, Prince Alfred, Princess Alice, Princess Helena at Buckingham Palace, February 29, 1960.
Vicky and the Queen, 1857
When the Queen clashed with one of her children, she wrote detailed letters, explaining her disapproval and anxieties not only to the child who challenged her, but to other members of the family such as eldest daughter, Crown PrincessVictoria of Prussia; the child's tutors and doctors; chaplains (and depending on the issue, a college dean or prime minister!) who's consuls {and consoles} she sought in the matter. She sent them copies of the letters: the child's request and her replies. Victoria was always upfront about what she thought!

Fortunately, the Queen was surrounded by many well-intentioned retainers; and the other children who were sympathetic to their siblings.

For all the upset over Beatrice's wedding, Queen Victoria grew to love Prince Henry of Battenberg. The Queen's new son-in-law gave up his military career to marry his English Princess; and the couple had to agree to live permanently with the Queen. Eventually, they gave her 4 more grandchildren.
Left photo: 1862 - Queen Victoria with her favorite and most devoted daughter, Princess Beatrice (9th child, born 1857). Right photo: 1864 - As an adult, Princess Beatrice was shy, but confident and determined if she had to be. She didn't seek nor crave her role as a sidekick to the center of power; it's what the Queen wished. Although Victoria was more maternal with Beatrice than she had been with her older children, it was a double-edged sword. From the age of 4, Beatrice was conditioned to put her mother's needs and happiness first. The Queen expected her two youngest children, Leopold and Beatrice, to live out their days unmarried as her companions. Prince Leopold was too spirited and independent and was unhappy until he was permitted to marry. Beatrice got married but complied. As selfish as Victoria appears to a modern reader, it was more common in Victorian times for one child in a family to remain home to care for parents.

It is not easy for offspring of a mother born to be a ruler ... as she will rule! Despite her maternal shortcomings, I mostly like Queen Victoria because on balance: her children were likable, responsible, respectable adults. They were instilled with a sense of duty and a desire to do good. All of them were gracious, humble and kind.

Even Bertie turned out to be a diplomat and good king. (King Edward VII loved his wife and mistresses, but that's another blog!) Affie, who became the Duke of Saxe-Colburg-Gotha in 1893, won over his subjects also. Mostly the siblings got along and were warm and open toward one another. Princesses Louise and Beatrice had squabbles, which were mended. Beatrice celebrated a happy 80th birthday with sister Louise, her next door neighbor, at Kensington Palace.* Bertie (Victoria's spurned heir) and Beatrice (her beloved confidante) were not close. Queen Victoria treated her oldest son and youngest daughter so differently, and some resentment stayed with the heir. Princess Beatrice was not part of the new King's inner circle (as was Princess Louise), but "remained a presence at court."* Bertie always invited her on the King's yachting trips; and his youngest sister was among the family who gathered as Bertie lay dying in 1910.* Unlike other dynasties, there were no ugly intrigues, plotting, nor backstabbing in Victoria's family. 

They were privileged royals, yes ... but spoiled, no. When looking at results, you understand, Queen Victoria was fundamentally a good person. So were her adult children. As a parent, she must have done many things right. 

Now for the countdown to season 2 of Victoria! Will you watch?

*The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter by Matthew Dennison here

Blogger changed something so writing captions for pictures messes up the format of a paragraph, therefore, I will identify the Royals in the last photo (above) in this spot: Standing: Alice, Louis of Hesse, Bertie, Helena. Sitting: Louise, Queen Victoria, Beatrice, Alexandra (Bertie's bride), and kneeling: Leopold. Poor Alexandra. It's her wedding and she holds a photo of the dearly departed Prince Albert, as her in-laws surround his statue, 1863.

You may also enjoy:
It's Christmas Once Again    
Princess Alice Of The United Kingdom   
Remembering Prince Leopold, Duke Of Albany
Queen Victoria & Prince Albert: Books & Series


  1. What a super post, Debbie. I can't wait for the next series of Victoria - we watched Series 1 through twice. Your research is quite wonderful with all those photos I have never seen. Victoria was really pretty when young, not the dour person she became in later life. My parents had quite a Victorian approach to raising their family (I am the eldest of six), and we were, like the royal family, interested and skilled in lots of different things, always busy learning something. They were also quite strict in much the same way as Victoria and Albert. They really did set the stamp on their era and for a long time afterwards.

    1. I think we're lucky to have involved parents. I love hearing a little about how you were raised. At the time I was a child, I think, American children watched way too much television, but I do remember going outside and playing with other children also, as well as, being sent to nursery school and after school programs. (I believe my mother needed a break from me.:)

      I have become a huge fan of Victoria's children. I love discovering new facts and rare photos about them. I'm happy you approve of this post and enjoyed it. (It keeps me motivated!) The history blogs are not hard to write, initially, but I spend much more time going back to fact-check some of the information and especially the dates! Once in a while, nailing down a date is very time consuming. Also I must leave out some things, I'd like to include, so I don't end up writting a novel. I knew I was packing the blog with lots of photos (and still left a few out, I liked).

      As always, I appreciate your comment, Trish!

  2. Dearest Debra,
    Interesting to read and no doubt, having raised her children without the support of a husband, is remarkable!
    Both of us seldom watch TV, not enough hours in a day for doing so.
    Enjoy it yourself and keep writing about it.

    1. Thanks, Mariette. I enjoy a well-written period drama on Sunday nights: Game of Thrones, the remake of Pollard, and Indian Summers (ended) -- all very entertaining. I am also hooked on Homeland. Luckily, they mostly don't overlap in their broadcast.

  3. Wonderful research you've done here, Debra. Although I love the Victorian era, I confess I never found Queen Victoria herself all that interesting and couldn't quite get "into" the series. That said, however, she left an indelible mark on the world through her progeny who occupied so many thrones themselves or through marriage. I have always been fascinated by the ill-fated Romanov dynasty.

    I may give the new series another go.

    Cheers, M-T

    1. The new series, so far, has been faithful to telling Victoria's life story with the exception of a secondary narrative about the downstair's staff. Despite the actors who play the downstair's staff being excellent and likeable, I don't think this bit of fiction is needed in depicting Queen Victoria's life. When depicting the Queen, the series is faithful to history thus far; and the actors playing Victoria, Albert and King Leopold I of Belgium (their uncle) are fabulous! The whole cast is great ... reason enough to watch!

  4. Thank you for all the work you put into finding all these wonderful pictures and the insightful information that goes along with them. I can't get enough of Queen Victoria and the times she lived in. I'm enjoying the "Victoria" series so much, I bought season 1 before I found a free movie site that has all of season 1 & 2. I actually got to see the very last episode of the series while watching it one night, Albert & Victoria get lost horseback riding in Scotland. I also enjoy watching "The Crown". Just can't get enough of those royals.

    1. Oh thank you for your kind words, bwagnitz97. It's lovely to share thoughts and interests.

      I love the Victorian Era, the Victoria television series and the books on Queen Victoria and her descendants. History is fun!! I think the appeal of studying the past, is you get a glimpse of human nature and behavior, but unlike real (or present) life, you get to learn the lessions and know the ending quicker. Over a day or week in lieu of a lifetime.😂

      And, I'm enjoying The Crown also.

      Appreciate your stopping by,


  5. A reader sent me a link to the British produced, then PBS aired program called "Queen Victoria's Children," It's up on YouTube in 3 parts. Last night I watched it. Here's what I thought about the show, and wrote back to my Facebook friend ... for anybody else who watches it:

    Watch the program as entertainment only. Not for truth. After reading a number of bios on Victoria and some of her children: I think this program wildly misrepresents her. At her core she was a moral person who loved and spent lots of time and energry loving and trying to turn her children into good people. She desired their happiness, not unhappiness. But she was a STRONG woman and queen, so she was never going to be less than that."

    1. With movies and series about Queen Victoria, I don't understand why. Her life and era were interesting enough, there is no need to make up things.

      This series was not a dramatization, but a documentary! So doubly important to get it right!

    2. You are right about that Debbie but nowadays journalism and all other documentary work is being done with less attention to the ever-important high morals. So many have totally lost their moral compass and they think it ought to be that way. Princess Victoria no doubt deserves better but most people don't dig as deep as you and I...