09 October 2018

A Princess Named Eugenie

By Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
When the Duke and Duchess of York announced their new daughter's name in 1990, people were surprised. There had not been a princess named Eugenie in the British Royal Family since the birth of Queen Victoria's youngest granddaughter over a century earlier. The bookmakers reported that not a single person had bet on the name. In retrospect, it was not at all an unusual choice for Eugenie's mother Sarah, who had already shown a strong interest in Queen Victoria and her family. Sarah had named her first child, Beatrice, after Victoria's youngest child. Why not name her second daughter after that first Beatrice's only daughter, Victoria Eugenie?

In fact, the name Eugenie has very few royal connections. The few times that the name has been used have all been very recent by royal standards. The name entered royal family trees through a bit of a side branch when Napoleon Bonaparte stormed across Europe, crowing himself Emperor of France and placing his friends and family on other thrones.

By Friedrich Durck
via Wikimedia Commons
Eugenie of Sweden and Norway
The first royal Eugenie was a Swedish princess. Her grandfather, King Carl Johan, had been one of Napoleon's best friends and top generals before being placed on the Swedish throne and her grandmother Desiree Clary was one of Napoleon's early loves. Carl Johan and Desiree's only child, King Oscar, married Josephine of Leuchtenberg, whose father Eugene de Beauharnais was Napoleon's stepson by Empress Josephine. When King Oscar and Queen Josephine decided to name their little girl in honor of Eugene de Beauharnais, she became the very first Princess Eugenie. She grew up in amidst a tribe of brothers, but her health was always fragile. Despite her ill health, she received several marriage proposals including one from the future Emperor Napoleon III, who found another Eugenie to marry. Instead of marrying, she was allowed to live independently. In fact, she was one of the first women in Sweden to assert her right to live outside of a male relative's guardianship. A talented woman, she was active as a painter and sculptor, a music composer and a poet. She was also active as a royal patron, sponsoring a children's hospital and founding an orphanage. Despite a lifetime of poor health and nearly constant illness, Eugenie lived into her late fifties, dying just one day shy of her 59th birthday.

by W&D Downey
via Wikipedia Commons
Eugenie de Montijo
Born four years earlier than Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway, Spanish noblewoman Eugenie did not reach royal (well, imperial) status until she married Emperor Napoleon III of France at the age of 26. Considered extremely beautiful, Empress Eugenie was highly celebrated as a leader of fashion. She also helped establish the template of modern royals, traveling widely within her country and around the globe to carry the flag. Her husband relied on her advice, though others questioned it, and sometimes lift her in charge. When the Franco-Prussian War lost him his throne, they ended up in exile in Britain with their only son. The emperor died soon thereafter and their son died six years later while fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War. Eugenie lived another 40 years in Britain and on the Continent, as a well-respected member of the elite. (See my full profile of her.)

By Philip Laszlo
via Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
The youngest of Queen Victoria's 22, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg is often considered one of the most beautiful. (See my post Gorgeous Granddaughters of Victoria.) Her mother, Princess Beatrice named her for her own mother, Queen Victoria, and her godmother, Empress Eugenie. Little Ena, as she was called, were raised in Victoria's household. Her father died when she was just eight years old, but she received plenty of support from the extended family. At age 17, she caught the eye of the young King Alfonso XIII of Spain. It was a love match but Ena had several strikes against her: her father wasn't truly royal, she was Protestant and she was likely carrying the hemophilia gene that Victoria's daughters and granddaughters had carried into other royal houses. The couple married nevertheless and despite a near-miss terrorist bomb attack on their wedding day, they were initially happy. However, of their five sons, one was stillborn, one became deaf and two were indeed hemophiliacs. (Their two daughters apparently did not inherit the faulty gene, or at least did not pass it to their offspring.) The health of their children and Alfonso's philandering drove the couple apart. The country was also coming apart. The family was eventually forced from the throne and into exile. (Read my post about Victoria Eugenie's escape.) The couple lived separately abroad until his death 10 years later. Ena lived long enough to see her grandson Juan Carlos recognized as the future king by Spanish dictator General Franco, and to attend the christening of her great-grandson, who is now King Felipe VI of Spain. She was the first royal Eugenie not to have a direct tie to the Bonapartes, her only connection being through her godmother.

Young Princess Eugenie with her mother
Princess Marie and brother Prince Peter
Edition Moos, Karlsruhe via Wikimedia Commons
Eugenie of Greece and Denmark
Although 11 years his elder, Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark was a first cousin of Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh. His father Andrew of Greece and her father George of Greece were brothers. Her mother Princess Marie Bonaparte was a granddaughter of Napoleon's rebellious younger brother Lucien. A well-known psychoanalyst, Princess Marie helped Sigmund Freud escape Nazi Germany, but Eugenie was already grown by then. Nevertheless, it can be see that she grew up under the direction of a mother who was both educated and influential. She also grew up in the shadow of her mother's famous sexuality. Marie's frustration in sexual climax led her to conduct both numerous affairs and direct scientific research. Eugenie would have known her little cousin Philip, as he spent part of his childhood in Marie's care and she helped pay for part of his early education. (Marie was one of the wealthier members of the by-then exiled Greek royal family.) Meanwhile Eugenie's dad Prince George may have had an inappropriately close relationship with his uncle Prince Valdemar of Denmark. It was a complicated childhood spent mostly in Paris and Vienna or travelling about this her mother and older brother Prince Peter. Eugenie married Prince Dominik Radziwill at age 28. The had a son and a daughter in the eight years before their divorce. A few years later, Eugenie married Prince Raymundo della Torre e Tasso and had one son with him. That marriage lasted twice as long as her first, ending in divorce after 16 years. She lived another 24 years, working on a biography of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaievich that was published in 1990, a year after her death.

Eugenie of York
The youngest daughter of Queen Elizabeth II's son Prince Andrew The Duke of York, Eugenie of York experienced her first moment of scandal as a toddler when she and her older sister Princess Beatrice were featured in holiday photos of their mother, the former Sarah Ferguson, cavorting with another man. The news rocked the royal family, especially when combined with the implosion of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales and that of Princess Anne, all amidst well-founded rumors of infidelity. Little Eugenie became a child of divorce at age six. However, her parents continued living together off and on over the years and vacationing together as a family. Both of their daughters have publicly declared them great parents. Both were at 12-year-old Eugenie's side as she underwent back surgery to correct a deformity caused by scoliosis, which has left her with titanium rods in her back and with a commitment to helping support scoliosis care specifically and children's healthcare in particular. In 2012, Eugenie became only the second woman in the British royal family to complete a university degree, following in the footsteps of her sister Beatrice. Since then, she has worked in the art world, most recently as director at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in London. Although not an official working member of the British Royal Family, Eugenie has adopted many charitable causes outside of healthcare, including her mother's organization Children in Crisis, the arts, plastic pollution and human trafficking.

About Eugenie de Montijo, Empress of France
Charles Frederick Worth, The Empress Eugenie and the Invention of Haute-Couture on Napoleon.org
Consort Profile: Empress Eugenie of France on The Mad Monarchist
The Daily Diadem on The Court Jeweller
The Dentist and the Empress on American Heritage
Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie on Historical Men and Women
Empress Eugenie on History's Women
Empress Eugenie's Bow Brooch on Eragem
The Empress Eugenie in eighteenth-century costume on Gods and Foolish Grandeur
Empress Eugenie: Her Unique Sense of Fashion with Diamond Jewels on Baunat
The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by Her Ladies in Waiting on Napoleon.org
Eugenie de Montijo, Empress of the French on Unofficial Royalty
Eugenie the Tragic Empress on Victorian Paris
Impress of an Empress on Independent.co.uk
L'Imperatrice Eugenie on Napoleon.org
Marie Antoinette and Eugenie on Versailles and More
Obsession: Empress Eugenie's Shoe Collection on The Bowes Museum's Blog
Two Empresses and Their Sons on Wellcome Library

About Eugenie of Greece and Denmark
Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark on The Royal Watcher
Wedding of Princess Eugenie of Greece on The Royal Watcher

About Eugenie of Sweden and Norway
The Delicate Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway on History of Royal Women

About Eugenie of York
Princess Eugenie on The Duke of York
Princess Eugenie index on Hello!
Princess Eugenie of York on English Monarchs
Princess Eugenie of York on The Royal Watcher
Princess Eugenie's Story on Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
What to Do about the York Princesses on Royal Musings

About Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain
Albert's Godmother on Mad for Monaco
Aunt Ena's Emeralds on Prince Michael's Chronicles
Consort Profile on The Mad Monarchist
Princess Victoria Eugenie and the Curse of Haemophilia on Kings and Queens
Queen Victoria Eugenia on Royal Magazin
Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on Gods and Foolish Grandeur
Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on The Royal Watcher
Royal Wedding #1 on Edwardian Promenade
The Stories of Queen Victoria's Granddaughters on Royal Central
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg - Queen of Spain on History of Royal Women
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain on Unofficial Royalty
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on The Former Paradise
Victoria Eugenie: The English Queen of Spain on Rebecca Starr Brown
Victoria Eugenie, Queen Consort of Spain on The Royal Court
Victoria Eugenie, une Reine d'Espagne en Exil on Point de Vue
Wedding of King Alfonso of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie on The Royal Watcher
Wedding of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie on Unofficial Royalty

1 comment:

  1. An interesting thing about the name is its pronunciation. Most people say You-Genie. But The Duchess of York has told us how to pronounce it - she says it sounds like Use-yer-knee with the stress on the last syllable! Apparently her friends call her Uge to rhyme with Huge.... not the easies name to live with!