19 February 2019

Darling Vicky's Birthday

Please enjoy this new limited series by blog guest, Aimee Byrony Silvester. In these posts, she shares items from Queen Victoria's diaries marking the birthdays of each of Victoria's birthdays. One child will be spotlighted per post. 

By Franz Xaver Winterhalter via Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa
born November 21,1840
Victoria was born nine months after the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. For the first 11 months of her life, she was the heiress presumptive until the birth of her brother, Prince Albert Edward. As the eldest daughter of the British monarch, Victoria was granted the title Princess Royal. Within the family, she was nicknamed Pussy and later Vicky. At age 17, she married Prince Frederick of Prussia, later Crown Prince and then Emperor. She was therefore also called Crown Princess Frederick and Empress Frederick at different points in her life. Frederick died when Vicky was 47, just three months after he ascended the throne. Vicky was the mother of eight children, including two sons who died young, as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Queen Sophia of Greece. Vicky died of cancer in 1901 at the age of 60. Her mother, Queen Victoria, predeceased her by only seven months.

1841 [No birthday mention]1

1842 “My dearest Albert wished me so warmly joy of this day, & we pray that our darling ‘Pussy’ may become a very good little person, & feel such gratitude to that Almighty Giver of all good for restoring to us this truly precious Child, our firstborn!”

1843 “Wished each other joy of our darling ‘Pussy's’; birthday, who is such a treasure to us, & we pray for her future preservation, to be a comfort to us all our lives! & that God may keep her well & happy.”

1844 “On awaking, we both wished one another warmly joy of this dear day, which gave us our darling ‘Puss’, our 1st born! God bless & protect her, as He has done hitherto, for He restored her to us, when, at one time, now 3 years ago, we hardly dared look on her life with any certainty, — & may she grow up all we should wish.”

1845 “We were awoke by the music of the Serenade, for good Vicky’s birthday & wished one another warmly joy of this day, the 5th anniversary of the birth of our 1st Child. I can hardly believe it is already 5 years ago, that little fat Puss was born.”

1846 “We were awoke by the Band under Vicky’s windows, & we thought much of this day 6 years ago, which seems to me like yesterday, when our darling Vicky was born, our 1st Child! How thankful we must be to see her as she is now when one thanks of how ill she was on her 1st birthday, & before, & for long after. Whoever could have then thought she would become such a strong, healthy child.”

1847 “We wished each other warmly joy of dear Vicky’s birthday. She is now already 7 years old. How we recalled to mind the anxious morning, when she was born, & what a business it was, having nothing ready. Well may we feel deeply thankful to that Almighty Providence which protected her, when on this day, 6 years ago, she was in a most precarious state, & now how well & strong she is! With proper care & judicious handling she will I am sure be a very clever, & I fervently pray, with God’s blessing, — a very good person.”

1848 “Our dear Vicky’s 8th birthday, can it be possible, may god bless & protect her & make her a good & amiable child & woman, she requires care & attention as she is very clever & quiet.”

1849 “Our eldest Child is today 9 years old, which seems hardly credible! We both wished one another joy, & talked over our memories of the day she was born. This day 8 years ago, I reminded Albert how delicate & ill she was, & now how well she is. We have indeed great cause for thankfulness. May God bless & protect the dear girl!”

1850 “We were awoke by the Band, which was playing in honour of our dear Vicky’s birthday, — her 10th. May God bless, preserve, & make her grow up, all we should desire! We have every reason to be thankful, for she is improving so much in every way, & is full of promise.”

1851 “We wished one another joy of this dear day, our 1st born’s 11th birthday! How well do we remember her birth, which came rather unexpectedly. God bless & protect her. She is a child of immense talent, power & promise. Unfortunately we could have no music or festivity, on account of yesterday’s news.” [Victoria's uncle, the King of Hanover, had passed away.]

1852 “Our good Vicky’s 12th birthday. May God bless & protect her as he has done hitherto! She has wonderfully improved in body & mind; her health is so good & her excellent qualities are showing themselves more & more.”

1853 “Dear Vicky’s 13th birthday, may God bless & protect her, — this very gifted child, whose great understanding, warm heart & strong feelings, are full of difficulties for her.”

1854 “Dear Vicky’s 14th birthday. May God bless & preserve her! She is a clever warm hearted child.”

1855 “Our dearest Vicky’s 15th birthday. May God bless & protect her, & with what joy & gratitude must we hail the day this year, which finds her with her future prospects so happily settled. We must look upon her already as a woman, — the child is gone forever! That certainly is a melancholy thought, but in her particular case it is perhaps better so. She is a noble, distinguished, warm hearted, very clever & highly gifted child!” 2

1856 “Dear Vicky’s 16th birthday. May God bless the dear Child! Never did I feel more sad on birthday than I did today.”3

By Franz Xaver Winterhalter via Wikimedia Commons
1857 “Our poor dear Vicky’s last happy, cheery birthday in our circle of Children! It is so sad. But I hope & trust she will be very happy with Fritz. Still marriage brings trials, sorrows, & danger, as well as joys! May God bless & protect her, happy, she ought to be, as regards Fritz & his affection for her.”

1858 “It seemed a sad birthday, with no presents, Vicky herself gone, the 2 eldest boys away, & Mama also not there.”4

1859 “Our darling Vicky’s 19th birthday. Such a pleasure for us to spend it with her & dear Fritz, — so different to last year!”5

1860 “Dearest Vicky’s 20th birthday! How I wish she & Fritz & the children were here!”6

1861 “Our dearest Vicky’s 21st birthday, & she has been married already nearly 4 years! May God bless & protect her, her dear husband & children for many many years. We wished one another joy, & thought of this day 21 years ago. Of dear Vicky we may indeed be proud!”7

1862 “Our dear Vicky’s 22nd birthday. Oh! What recollections of the past! Felt very sad when I got up.”8

1863 “Our dear Vicky’s 23rd birthday.”

1864 “Our dear Vicky’s 24th birthday. May God bless & protect this dear clever Child, so great an object of love, interest, & anxiety to my beloved Albert.”9

1865 “Dearest Vicky’s birthday, — our 1st born, my beloved one’s great favourite, the child of whom he was so proud. She indeed well deserves it, dear, warm hearted, highly gifted child! May God bless & long preserve her & may the many trials & difficulties, which surround her & excellent Fritz, be smoothed out, & overcome!’

1866 “Dear Vicky’s birthday. May god bless, protect & preserve her for many a long year!”10

1867 “Dearest Vicky’s birthday God bless & protect her!”

1868 “Dear Vicky’s 28th birthday. May God bless & long protect & guide her to use her great talents to the advantage of her country & everyone else. How her adored father loved her!”11

1869 “Dear Vicky’s 29th birthday. May God bless & protect her.”

By Sergei Levitsky via Wikimedia Commons
1870 “Dear Vicky’s 30th birthday. May god bless & long protect her & her excellent Husband.”12

1871 “Dear Vicky’s 31st birthday. May God bless & protect her!”

1872 “Dear Vicky’s birthday, & whom I pray God to bless & protect.”13

1873 “Dear Vicky’s 33rd birthday. May God bless, protect & guide her in her difficult position.”

1874 “Dear Vicky’s 34th birthday. God bless, preserve & guide her!”

1875 “Dear Vicky’s 35th birthday. May God bless, protect & guide her!”

1876 “My firstborn, dear Vicky’s 36th birthday. May God bless & protect her!”

1877 “Dear Vicky’s 37th birthday already! How present to my mind is her birth. May God bless, protect & preserve her!”

1878 “Dear Vicky’s birthday. May God bless & protect her."14

1879 “Poor dear Vicky’s 39th birthday, what a sad one it must he, with the losses of darling Alice, & above all, her precious little Waldie, to deplore, since last year.”15

1880 “Dear Vicky’s 40th birthday, which seems impossible!”

1881 “Dear Vicky’s birthday. May God bless, & long protect her!”

1882 “Dearest Vicky’s birthday. God bless her for many years.”

1883 “Dear Vicky’s birthday. May God bless & protect her!”

1884 “Dear Vicky’s birthday, God bless & protect her.”

By Heinrich Angeli via Wikimedia Commons
1885 “Dear Vicky’s 45th birthday!! May God bless, protect & guide her for many many years!”

1886 “Dear Vicky’s 46th birthday. Incredible! God bless, protect, & guide her.”

1887 “Poor darling Vicky’s birthday. Oh! what a sad one it will be! She & dear Fritz are never out of my thoughts & it comes over me like a dreadful cloud, which overhangs, darkens & spoils every pleasure. May God bless my poor dear Child, who is so good & brave.”16

1888 “Poor darling Vicky’s 48th birthday, & what a sad one!”17

1889 “Poor darling Vicky’s birthday, spent last year with us. This time she is spending it at Athens, which I am glad of.” [Vicky's daughter Sophia had married the Crown Prince of Greece earlier in the year.]

1890 “Darling Vicky’s 50th birthday. May God bless, protect & comfort her for many years!”

1891 “Darling Vicky’s birthday. God bless her!”

1892 “Dear Vicky’s 52nd birthday. God bless & long protect her.”

1893 “Dear Vicky’s birthday. May God long preserve her!”

1894 “Dearest Vicky’s birthday, her 54th, which seems a dream. God bless & ever protect her!”

1895 “Dearest Vicky’s 55th birthday. May God bless & long protect her!”

1896 “Dear Vicky’s birthday. May God bless & long preserve her.”

1897 “Dear Vicky’s birthday, already her 57th! May she long be spared!”

1898 “Dear Vicky’s 58th birthday. How well I remember every detail of her birth, & what a confusion there was, she having arrived sooner than was expected & nothing being arranged, so that my sitting room had to be turned into the Nursery.”18

1899 “Darling Vicky’s birthday. God grant that she may yet be long spared to us, but her health makes me very anxious.”

By Norbert Schroedl via Wikimedia Commons
1900 “Darling Vicky’s 60th birthday. To think of her, who was so wonderfully active & strong, now so ill & suffering, is heart-breaking. All her children, excepting Sophy, were to be with her. We pray daily that she may suffer less.”19 20

1: Victoria stopped writing in her diary on the 8th November due to her confinement for Bertie’s birth. She started again on the 2nd December, missing Vicky’s birthday, so we do not know much about what she was ill with on her 1st birthday. “Pussy, who had seemed bursting with good health and cheer earlier in the year, was now proving fretful and generally run down. ‘Till the end of August she was such a magnificent, strong fat child, that it is a great grief to see her so thin, pale and changed,’ Victoria wrote.” (Victoria and Albert by Richard Hough).

2: Vicky became engaged to Frederick of Prussia (’Fritz’) earlier that year on 29th September. The engagement was announced to the public on 17th May 1856. “A few days later, during an excursion up the heather-covered slopes of Craig-na-Ban, Fritz and Vicky managed to fall behind. He picked a sprig of white heather for good luck, which he offered her with his first kiss, saying that he hoped she would come to Prussia. She answered that she would be happy to go there for a year. He added that he hoped it would be ‘always' at which she blushed bright red. Had he said anything to annoy her? ‘Oh! No.’ ‘Might he tell her parents?’ No, she would tell them herself. They shook hands, and Fritz told her that ‘this was one of the happiest days of his life.’ […] Vicky, the Queen said, was ‘nervous but did not hesitate or falter in giving her very decided answer.’ When Fritz kissed Vicky’s hand, ‘she threw herself into his arms, & kissed him with a warmth which was responded by Fritz again and again. I would not for the world have missed so touching and beautiful a sight.’” (An Uncommon Woman by Hannah Pakula)

3: Victoria’s half brother, Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen, had died 5 days earlier on the 13th November. “When I spoke with Seabrook, he told me, that on arriving, he had seen our beloved Charles [Carl], who was fully conscious, & he saw him again after all was over, looking still so handsome. Dearest Feodore [Victoria’s half sister] wrote me the following lines: 'Our dear Brother is no more, I have closed his eyes; he is at rest. God will be merciful to his soul! We have lost a dear brother; he loved you & me, with all his heart. — His last moments were not painful, indeed since yesterday he did not suffer at all, & although he still knew us, his head was not quite clear. Poor Edward is much afflicted.’ — Our last bright recollections of dear Charles are bound up with the brilliant time of the Emperor Napoleon’s visit, consequently a complete & painful contrast, to the sad heart-rending accounts of his deathbed!”

4: Vicky and Fritz’s wedding took place on 25th January 1858. They left for Berlin on 2nd February. “I clasped her in my arms, not knowing what to say & kissed good Fritz, pressing his hand again & again. He was quite unable to speak for emotion. […] What a dreadful moment, what a real heartache to think of our dearest Child being gone & not knowing how long it may be before we see her again!”

5: On 27 January 1859 Vicky gave birth William, later Wilhelm II, who was nicknamed ‘Willy’. Vicky and Fritz visited England without Willy and they arrived in England on 8th November, leaving on the 3rd December.

6: On 24 July 1860 Vicky gave birth to her daughter Charlotte. Charlotte was sometimes known as ‘Ditta’.

7: On the 14th December Vicky’s father, Albert, died.

8: On 14 August 1862 Vicky gave birth to her son Henry.

9: On 15 September 1864 Vicky gave birth to her son Sigismund, nicknamed ‘Sigi’.

10: On 12 April 1866 Vicky gave birth to her daughter Victoria, usually called ‘Moretta’. In the same year Vicky’s son, Sigi, died. “Victoria lost patience when Vicky claimed that she would give up ‘house & home, future & all’ if she could bring back her dear little boy. ‘It is not right in you, dear child,’ Victoria wrote, ‘to say you would give up everything to get little Siggie back. That is really wrong, dearest child! It is tempting providence. Think what is a child in comparison with a husband [likely referring to Albert]” (An Uncommon Woman)

11: On 10 February 1868 Vicky gave birth to her son Waldemar, nicknamed ‘Waldie’

12: On 14 June 1870 Vicky gave birth to her daughter Sophia, later Sophia of Greece, who was nicknamed ‘Sossy’

13: On 22 April 1872 Vicky gave birth to her daughter Margaret nicknamed ‘Mossy’

14: On the 14th December 1878 Alice died from diphtheria. “I can hardly bear to write her dear name” she wrote to the Queen. Vicky was very close to her sister but wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral due to fear of infection.

15: On 27 March 1879 Vicky’s son, Waldie, died.

16: Fritz was suffering from cancer. “Dr Reid showed me his answer to Sir M. Mackenzie, which is excellent. He is so afraid that both sides of the question may not have been duly weighed, for it must be borne in mind that palliatives cannot eradicate the disease, whereas the operation of opening the throat & removing all the growths, might do so. The German doctors, as well as some in England do not consider this operation as very dangerous. […] Had a kind distressed letter from Bertie, about dear Fritz, also one from Mme de Perpigna, giving a most heartrending account of poor dear Vicky, though she was most courageous & tried to keep up before dear Fritz.” (14th November)
“A letter from Sir M. Mackenzie to Dr Reid saying that an operation would have been too dangerous, as the great object was to prolong dear Fritz’s life, whereas the immediate risk of an operation would have been great. This the German doctors all agreed in Sir M. Mackenzie continues to be of the opinion, that there was nothing malignant in June. I cannot help hoping against hope, that the disease may not progress rapidly.” (18th November)

17: Fritz died on 15 June 1888. He had only been Emperor for 99 days.

18: Vicky was diagnosed with Cancer in late 1898. While there [in England], she verified news she had received from the doctor who examined her after her [sleigh] accident - that she was suffering from breast cancer. According to the Queen’s doctors, the cancer was ‘far too advanced’ to be operable.” (An Uncommon Woman)

19: On 30 July 1900 Affie died from cancer. “The death of her brother Alfred, the Duke of Coburg, at the end of July from cancer of the larynx, the same disease that had killed Fritz, was a serious blow. Like Queen Victoria, Vicky heard he was ill only a few days before his demise. She had wanted to go to Coburg to see him before he died, but was unable to travel. She was now often unable to go downstairs, even to meals.” (An Uncommon Woman)

20: “The spasms were now occurring as often as every two hours and lasting between half and three-quarters of an hour, during which the Dowager Empress could ‘only scream and groan’. […] From midsummer of 1900 on, the health of the Dowager Empress [Vicky] deteriorated rapidly.” (An Uncommon Woman)