British Royalty: Edward VII--Children


Figure 1.--This photograph shows the two oldest sons of Edward VII and the three girls. Notice how they are all dressed in matching outfits. The boys wear traditional sailor suits. The girls wear dresses with sailor styling, but noreally sailor dresses. The photograph would have been taken about 1879. Notice the length of the streamers on their sailor hats. Also notice that the girls wear short white socks.

Edward and Alexandra had six children. The children grew in a very permissive royal household, with the exception of quiet backward Albert Victor (Eddy), grew father wild and unrully. Strange that Prince George as a father would develop into such a stern disciplinarian and ran a royal household almost the opposite of the one in which he grew up. The two boys were devoted to each other. As they were close in age they were raised and tutored together. They were had, however, very different personalities and characters. Prince George was a normal, lively little boy. The older boy, Prince Eddy, was decidely pathetic and backward. Albert Victor, would have been a disaster if he he had risen to the throne. As fate would have it, Albert Victor died while Bertie was still Prince of Wales and his younger brother became king as George V. It was George that would lead Britain through World War I and was much criticised for the way he raised his children. There were also three girls and an infant boy who died. We know less about the three girls. They were very rowdy and undisciplined as youngsters. As older girls they were unkindly known as "the hags". Victoria cared for her mother as she grew older. Maud became the Queen of Norway.

The Princes

Edward and Alexander waisted no time in securing the secession. The Prince and Princess of Wales first child was born unexpectedly 2 months early and weighed less than four pounds. George was also born prematurely. Prince George was a lively, normal little boy, if not overly bright. The same can not be said of his older brother. The same coud not be said about Prince Eddy. Almost from the beginning it was noticed that something was not quite right. And Eddy did not improve with age. Unfortunately he was heir to the throne. Price Eddy and Prince George were born closed together and raised together until Prince George began his naval career.

The Princesses

One historian describes the princesses as a "shaowy trio" who were often referred to unkndly as "the hags". In public they usully appeared together, commonly dressed alike. They seemed very shy in public, but were quite boisterous when home at Sandringham. The girls were considered undisciplined by the Queen. One observer described them as "rampaging little girls". They appeared to have loved practical jokes. Princess Alexandra's biographer describes them as "lethargic, uneducated and childlike", not to say childish in their entertaiments and amusemernts". [Battiscombe, p. 199.] One woinders how such a charming, lively person as Princess Alexandra could have profuced three such dull girls. While great attention was given to their brothers' education, their education appear to have been neglected except for music instruction. [Battiscombe, p. 175.] Curiously, while their mother devoted considerable energuy to question s of matrimony regarding her sons and other mothers of the royal family, she appars to have been less interested in finding husbands for her daughters. Her sister in law, now the dowger Empress Frederich, suggest quite a number of elligible German princes, but Princess Alexandra dismissed them out of hand. She wanted no Germans in her family. Her husband had discussed the matter with Queen Victoria, but probably wisely for domestic tranquility did not challenge his wife on the issue.

Louise Saxe-Coburg (1867-1931)

Louise was the Princess Royal. Alix's pregnancy with Louise meant that she could not attend the wedding of her dear sister Dagmar in St. Perersburg to the Tsareivitch. Her husband the prince of Wales was sent instead. Dagmar was disappointed as many of her Danish relatives could not afford to attend. Alix became dreadfully ill in the later stages of the prgnancy. Her husband did not appear to take it seriously. The Queen did and Alix's parents were asked to come to her bed side. She survived, but her health was affected and after this her hearing began to deteriorate. Louise was virtually toung-tied at social engagements, having any kind of conversatiion with her took some effort. Her major interest in life was fishing, although she also enjoyed music--if it wasn't possible to fish. She married the Earl of Fife in 1889 who Queen Victoria crated a Duke, with some reluactance. The Queen was pleased that Louise chose a Scotsman. Louise was abot 22 when she married. The Earl was 18 years older than her. Louise was involved in her brother Prince Eddy's unsuccessful effort to marry Princess Helene d'Oeléans. She produced her mother's first grandchild in 1891, a daughter. Princess Alexandra had rushed to her bed and was there for the birth. Louise was not as willing as Prince George to allow theur mother to care for her children. Another factor was that she lived in Scotland, not next door at Sandringam. As a result, Louise's children were never a close to their grand parents as Prince George's children.

Victoria Saxe-Coburg (1868-1935)

Of course one of the girls had to be named after her grandmother. She was said to be delicate and prone to hypochondria. She could be very critical and was prone to say unkind things about Princess May, her brother's wife. The fact that she had little in common with May, was part of the problem. It may have also been jealousy, the fact that May was married and she was not was probably also a factor. [Battiscombe, p. 123] She considered May dull and did not hesitate to say so. This was in part because Princess may was an intelligent, self possed young woman and did not enjoy the childish antics of Victoria and her sisters. It was Victoria who looked after her mother in later years as she was becoming increasingly senile. Her mother in her drives about the countryside she would graciously wave and bow to the cows in the fields and Vicoria was always at her side. Victoria never married.

Maud Saxe-Coburg (1869-1938)

Princess Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria was known as "Toria". She like her sisters were considered undisciplined by the Queen. One observer, Lady Grendaline, while judging all three girkls as undisciplined, thought Princess Maud "very sharp, quick, merry, and amusing". The Queen thought that she was an exceptionally naughty little girl. [Battiscombe, p. 123] Maud was the livliest of the sisters and had a reputation for bravery and was nicknamed Harry, after a friend of her father who was famed for his courage. She married Prince Charles (Carl) of Denmark who became King Haakon VII of Norway. Princess Maud thus became the Queen of Norway. She was very unhappy both because she did not particularly like Denmark and the Prince was often away from home with his naval career. Her mother gave her a small house at Appleton near Sandringham for a summer holliday house. Prince Charles was eventually elected king of Norway in 1896, becoming King Haakon of Norway. They were actually first cousins and in their marriage they had only a single child--the future King Olav V of Norway.

Infant Son (1871)

Alix in 1871 gave birth to the royal couple's third son, again prematurely. He survived only 24 hours and was hastily christened Alexander John Charles Albert. She always referred to him as John. Both Alix and her husband were deeply touched. Bertie insisted on personally putting the baby's body in the coffin and arranging the flowers. Alix watched from her bedroom window at Sandringham as Bertie walked arm-in-arm and their two small sons in a short funeral procession. The boys were dressed very solemnly in their grey kilts, crêpe scarves, and black gloves. Alix was much affected and blamed herself for not taking more care of herself. One major change was Alox decided to have no more children, despite the fact that she was a young woman only 26 years old. [Battiscombe, pp. 112-113.]

Clothes

HBC has little information on what Bertie felt about his boyhood clothes or the clothes selected for his children. Ourvinformation is still very limited. The boys and girls were each commonly dressed alike as children. Sailor styles were popular and were becoming increasingly adopted by the generl public. Both the princes and princes wore them. We do know, however, that clothing was a major interest of Edward VII as a adult. Like many European royals, Edward was obsessed with clothing, medals, and uniforms. He was especially concerned with clothes. No doubt his mother's refusal to give him any serious official duties were a factor here. Edward was known to reprimand individuals who made even small errors in dress. A particular obsession was mistakingly wearing black rathar than white tie for formal occassions. He even once pubically upbraided Prime Minister Marquess of Salisbury when he appeared at a Buckingham Palac reception inappropriately dressed. The Prime Minister cooly responded thzat when dressing his mind must have been "occupied by some subject of less importance". Reportedly his grandson George VI inherited. [Bradford, 1989, p. 4.]

Sources

Battiscombe, Georgina. Queen Alexandra (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1969).

Bennett, Daphne King Without a Crown: Albert Prince Consort of England, 1819-1861 (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1977).






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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: 1:26 AM 9/19/2009