Left to right: Princess Alix of Hesse; Princess Irene of Hesse (back row);
Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein; Princess Charlotte of Prussia;
and Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.
|Charlotte of Prussia|
Beautiful or not, these women left their mark on the world. Five of them married kings/emperors and in total they gave birth to 71 children, including five kings and four consorts. Today, their descendants include Queen Elizabeth's consort Prince Philip, King Harald V of Norway, ex-King Constantine of Greece, ex-King Michael of Romania, ex-King Peter of Yugoslavia, former Queen Sofia of Spain and her husband former King Juan Carlos of Spain, Russian Imperial claimant Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
|Viktoria of Prussia|
|Sophie of Prussia|
|Margaret of Prussia|
|Louise Princess Royal|
Their home was not devoid of the kind of tragedies that often touched Victorian-era. Their baby brother Prince Alexander John died the day after he was born. Then, their beloved eldest brother Prince Albert Victor died of the flu just after his 28th birthday. His death stunned the family and the nation. He left behind a fiancee whom his younger brother dutifully fell in love with and married. (See my post A Royal Love Triangle for more about that.)
|Victoria of Wales|
|Maud of Wales|
The youngest Wales daughter Maud married at age 27, a bit older than the average princess. She selected an unassuming younger son of the Danish royal house. She struggled to have a child, producing only one son. Then, her life was turned upside down when her husband was selected as the first king of the newly independent Norway. Shy Maud never counted a queenship in her future, and her health suffered in the cold Norwegian winters, leading her to spend considerable time in her native England. On the upside, part of Antarctica was named Queen Maud's Land in her honor.
|Victoria of Hesse|
|Elizabeth of Hesse|
|Irene of Hesse|
killed along with several Romanov princes. The execution of the Tsar's family is far more famous, but Elizabeth's death is perhaps more grisly. Beaten and shoved into a pit, Elizabeth and her imperial relatives were still alive. So first one grenade and then another was tossed into the hole. When she could still be heard singing hymns, brush as thrown in and set on fire. Before her death, Elizabeth had become an Orthodox nun. Widowed without children at an early age when her husband Grand Duke Sergei was assassinated by being blown up in the streets of Moscow, Elizabeth had taken to religious life. She, Alix, Nicholas and the five imperial children are now recognized as saints of the Russian Orthodox church.
|Alix of Hesse|
|Marie of Hesse|
|Marie of Edinburgh|
|Victoria Melita |
|Alexandra of Edinburgh|
|Beatrice of Edinburgh|
|Helena Victoria of |
|Marie Louise of|
|Margaret of Connaught|
|Patricia of Connaught|
Margaret's sister Patsy also married a man of her choosing, but not after traveling quite a bit with her parents, spending two years in India and several more in Canada, where a lake and a regiment are named for her. Despite numerous royal matches being suggested for her, Patsy chose instead to marry The Hon. Alexander Ramsay when she was 32. She also voluntarily dropped her royal title, although not her membership in the royal family or place in the succession. She gave birth to her only son within the year, and her daughter-in-law, Lady Saltoun is still considered a member of the British Royal Family.
Unlike all of their royal cousins, Daisy and Patsy experienced no difficulties or heartaches because of their brother. Prince Arthur happily married their cousin Louise Princess Royal's oldest daughter, served as Governor General of South Africa, and fathered his required heir.
|Alice of Albany|
|Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg|
Like so many of her cousins, Ena's life was touched by many tragic losses. Her father died on his way to serve in the Boer War when she was eight. Her youngest brother was killed in action in World War I and her hemophiliac brother Leopold died during a hip operation. Her wedding day with her beloved King Alfonso XII--who many people thought would marry her cousin Patsy--was marred by a deadly bomb attack on the carriage procession. When she passed the hemophilia gene to two of her sons, they both died in minor car accidents. One of her other two sons was deaf. With her marriage deteriorating even faster than the Spanish political situation, the couple made no pretense of living separately when they were forced into exile by the Second Spanish Republic ahead of the Spanish Civil War. (Read more about that in my post Death to the Queen.) Ten years later, her husband died of heart attack. Soon thereafter, she was forced to abandon her new home in Italy because she was too pro-Allies in World War II.
The Spanish throne was finally restored to her grandson King Juan Carlos. Victoria Eugenie returned to Spain briefly in 1968 to attend the christening of her great-grandson, Spain's new King Felipe.