03 December 2015

Princess Spotlight: Victoria of the United Kingdom

Among the numerous descendants of Queen Victoria, there is a Princess Victoria among nearly every sibling group for several generations. Some became quite famous, like Empress Vicky of Germany and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. Others were a bit infamous, like Victoria of Hesse who divorced her first husband and essentially ran off with a Russian grand duke. One of the least well known, however, lived her life more or less in the sheltered shadow of her publicly adored mother, Queen Alexandra (see my profile of her). So that when she died 80 years ago today her passing was remarkable only among the closest of family members, despite an official court mourning period of six weeks. In the immediate run up to her death, her beloved brother King George V skipped the State Opening of Parliament and in its aftermath, her recently married nephew the Duke of Gloucester curtailed his honeymoon plans--his wedding had been scaled back too when his bride's father died a few weeks earlier. (See my profile of the bride.)

When Princess Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary of Wales was born on July 6, 1868, she was fifth in line to the throne after her father and three older siblings. Her godparents include the Queen of England, the Queen of Greece, the Dowager Queen of Denmark, and the reigning and future Emperors of Russia. When she died on December 3, 1935 at her country house in Buckinghamshire, she was fifteenth behind all but one of her nieces and nephews and their children. Victoria grew up in a bustling and close-knit family. Like her parents, she was athletic. Like her mother and her siblings, she was shy with others. Like many relatives, she was artistic. Unlike her siblings or parents, she was considered bright.

Toria (right) with her mother (seated) and sister Louise
Nevertheless, Toria, as she was called, never really had the opportunity to spread her wings. Despite several rumored suitors, she never married. Her mother is generally blamed for this as she kept Toria as a close companion until her own death in 1925. While her sisters married and had families, bright, gentle, active Toria was treated as a "glorified maid," in the words of one cousin. As she aged, many noted that she became more bitter and sharp with a tendency to hypochondria. Despite this, her position afforded her many comforts, including fabulous jewels, and allowed her to travel extensively. She visited the continent many times, often to see family in Denmark and Russia, where her first cousin, the ill-fated Nicholas II, was a dear friend. Toria also accompanied her parents on official travels, too, including a dangerous trip to Ireland.

Toria and her siblings remained close all of their lives. They were all devastated by the loss of their oldest brother, Prince Albert Victor, from the flu in 1892 although were all likely too young to have been very aware of their day-old youngest brother, Prince Alexander John, in 1871, despite how deeply his loss affected their parents. As children, they were lively and mischievous, traits that their grandmother, Queen Victoria, did not like. "I can't fancy them at all," she wrote, although to be fair, Queen Victoria was rarely a doting parent or grandmother. If she heard about the time the children brought a pony into their mother's sitting room, she was almost certainly not amused.

In adulthood, Toria remained strongly connected to her sisters, even though Louise spent much of her time in Scotland, and Maud was frequently in Norway, where her husband had been selected as king. The growing prevalence of the telephone meant that they could communicate easily, and she is said to have had a daily phone call with her remaining brother, even after he became King George V. Their sibling bond left him devastated upon her death, and he died only eight weeks after her.

For more about, Victoria:
Princess Victoria of Great Britain Dies on Royal Splendor
Princess Victoria is Dead on Royal Musings
Royal Profile: Princess Victoria Alexandra on Marilyn's Royal Blog
The Stories of Queen Victoria's Granddaughters: Princess Victoria of Wales on Royal Central

Book about Victoria and her cousins:

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