*** boys clothing: British royalty Victoria--the children

British Royalty: Victoria and Albert's Children

Queen Victoria's family
Figure 1.--Winterhalter's noted portrait of Victoria and Albert's young family. Edward wears a tunic outfit, but the other children, including Alfred at the left all wear dresses. Notice how in this portrait painted around 1845 that Albert wears knee breeches as formal wear.

Queen Victoria Victoria and Prince Albert had nine children, four boys and five girls. They saw themselves and in many ways were suitably enough an ideal Victorian family. And many of their subjects agreed. The marriages and offspring of these children are truely remarkable. Victoria in more than name was the grandmother of Europe. Ties were forged with Denmark, Prussia and other German states, Russia, and Spain. Notably France was exepted from Victoria's dynastic web. In order of birth, the children were:

Victoria (1840-1901)

Victoria and Albert's oldest child was th Princess Royal, named Victoria after her mother. The Princess Royal was born in 1840 and Victoria was concerned that her subjects would be dissapointed that her first child was a girl. Most were delighted that "Uncle Earnest," King of Hanover, was no longer directly in line to inherit the throne. She was called "Pussy," "Pussette," or "Vicky," in the family. Before the age of 3 years she was conversing in English, ' Germa, and French. The Queen once commented that we find Pussy amazingly advanced in inteligence and also in naughtines. The Princess Royal once told her governess, I'm sorry I was naughty--but I mean to be just as naughty next time. She married Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia who was to become Kaiser Frederick III, but reigned only a few days. She strove to introduce English manners and the precepts of constitutional monarachy, but was opposed by Bismark. Even her influence on her son and grandson were limited by Bismark. When her husband died, she was long estrainged from her bombastic son who became Wilhelm II.

Albert Edward (1841-1910)

Victoria's second pregnancy produced a son and heir. Edward or Bertie as he was called was born the following year in 1841. He was a fine, large boy. Victoria reported later that only Pussy was not pleased. Edward was the first male heir born to the throne since George IV in 1759??. Her subjects were delighted. The parents soon found that Bertie was going to be difficult to deal with. As heir to the thrown he was of great concern. Despite extrodinary efforts to assist him, he was to cause more difficulty than any of the other children. Well before Balmoral was purchased, Victoria began dressing the young prince in kilts. I'm not sure precisely when she began dressing Edward in kilts, proably as soon as he emerged from dress about 5 or 6 years of age. Clearly Edward was wearing kilts by the late 1840s. Despite the parent's concern, Edward in fact proved to be a success as king.

Alice (1843-1878)

Princess Alice was born in 1843 and knicknammed Fatima. The Queen was pleased when going through the baby linen and found almost nothing new needed to be purchased. Allice mairred Prince Frederick William of Hesse, becoming Grand Duchess of Hesse and the Rhine. She had strong views favoring the emancipation of women and pursued a livelong interest in education and nursing. The young Prince Wilhelm also visited with the family. Her daughter Victoria mairred Prince Louis of Battenburg and gave birth to the future Lord Mountbatten. Another daughter married the Tsar and became Tsarina. Alice died tragically at the young age of only 35 years.

Alfred (1844-1900)

Prince Alfred or "Alfie" was born in 1844, the only child not to be born in Buckingham Palace. The Queen wrote when Alfred was over a year old, was the possesor of a very good manly temper which he reportedly retained for the rest of his life. Alfie may have been the most mischivious of the children. Prince Albert was always worrying about the boy hurting himself. Alfredf was often depicted with his older brother, the two of them outfitted in kilts. Alfred became the Duke of Edinburgh--a precursor to Prince Phillip. Alfred was the first member of the royal family to visit Australia. He visited in 1867-68 and was shot at by a dereigned Irishman. He served in the Royal Navy and eventually married the autocratic Russian Grand Duchess Marie, the only daughter of the Czar. Neither proved very popular. He reigned as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Stories circulated about his drinking and temper.

Helena (1846-1923)

Helena was considerd the tomboy of the family. The Queen did not regard Helena and Louise with the same affection as her older and younger daughters. The Prince of Wale's fiancee, Princess Alexandra, was met on her arrival at Osborne by Princess Helena who was about 16 and and her younger brother Leopold who was about 9. Alix was to stay with the Queen for a few months befor the marriage. Leopold was worried about the bouquet that had been enbtrusted to him. Alix was charmed, took little Leopold in her arms and kissed him, forging a loving relationship with him. Alix soon made friendships with the Queen's daughrts as well, especially Helena who was close to her in age. [Battiscombe, pp. 40-41.] Helena at the age of 20 in 1866 married a landless German/Danish Prince, Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Augustenburg, who was 15 years her senior. This was the cause of a major family squable. The two had agreed to live with the Queen in England. Helena was a bright girl, but saw marriage to the rather oafish Christain as her old chance for marriage. Much of the family saw the marriage as the Queen sacrificing her daughter to ensure that she would stay at home. The Princess of Wales took it much more personally because Prince Christian had taken the Prussian side in the dispute over Schleswig-Holstein. Alix was not pleased to have another German in the family. His rather Danish origins just added fuel to the fire.

prince Esward and Alfred
Figure 2.--Victoria and Albert began the practice of dressing the princes in kilts. The boys wore dresses as younger boys. Bertie (Edward) appears in kilts in the late 1840s. He also wore tunics as a boy. I'm not sure precisely when he began to wear kllts or whose idea it was. This drawing by Victoria herself of Edward and Alfred shows the princes in identical kilts. It was drawn about 1850.

Louise (1848-1939)

Louise was born in difficult times. The year of 1848 was a year of disorder and revolution. Many thrones tottered. There was even a riot outside Buckingham Palace. Victoria was frightened and tearful. Louis Philippe in France, who Albert disliked, lost his throne, igniting a confligration throughout Europe. Victoria, who was pregnant with Louise, took in royal refuges. Louise was the pertiest of the children. The Queen considered her, with some reason, however, as being rebellious. Louise in 1871 married the Marquess of Lorne--the first non-royal mairrage of a British soverign's daughter since the sister of Henry VIII wed Charles Brandon. The "experiment", however, was unsuccessful and the two separated. Louise was the only one of Victoria's children not to have children of her own. She lived to the ripe old age of 91. In her later years she reportedly became very close to Alexandra, Bertie's wife.

Arthur (1850-1942)

The third son, Prince Arthur, fufilled his ambition by becoming a soldier. He was born on the Duke of Wellington's birthday and the Duke was made Arthur's God Father. Arthur was entralled by the army and like nothing better as a gift than a sword or gun. After an encounter with some stable cats while rescuing his terrier, an anxious governess asked her blodied charge what had happened. Wonded! In execution of my duty. The governess, Lady Lyttleton, is related to Proncess Diane. Prince Arthur became Victoria's favorite son. The only one who caused her no real bother. He was made the Duke of Connaught and mairred Princess Louise Margueriteof Prussia. He outlived all his brothers and sisters except Beatrice.

Leopold (1853-84)

Leopold was the starcrossed child. He was born with hemeophilia, but the disorder was unknown at the time. Prince Leopold was made the Duke of Albany. He was treated unsympathetically by his mother. The Queen wrote when Leopold was 4 years old that he was not an engaging child, though amusing. He was carefully sheltered by his mother and spent his entire life trying to free himself from her desire to protect him. Raised as an invalid, Prince Leopold had to fight his doting mother for any chance to live an adult life. Victoria thought it unnecessary for him to live in a home of his own, to marry. or to have children. He was the youngest and most studious of Victoria's sons. He finally managed to marry in 1882 to Princess Helena of Waldeck, only 2 years before his untimely death in 1884. Though the Queen continued to keep a close watch, Leopold would occasionally escape curfew to kick up his heels. Unfortunately, his last escapade was in Monte Carlo where, suffering a fall at a roulette table, he bled to death from internal hemorrhaging.

Beatrice (1857-1944)

The last child was Beatrice who was referred to as "Baby" in the family. She was to establish the Battenburg line of the British royal family and was to be the grandmother of Lord Louis Mounbatten of Burma. Victoria was delighted with the baby and her letters to Vicky describe the joy she got out of playing with the child. It was only 4 years, however, before the death of the Prince Consort Albert and the dramatic change in the life of the children. Victoria later wrote, Beatrice was the only thing I think I feel keeps me alive. Unfortunately the esquisite child grew ibto a lonely, sad, and repressed woman. She was not allowed to be in a room with a man unless she was accompanied. When she told her mother she had fallen in love, the Queen stopped talking to her. Beatrice stayed home with her mother all her life. Even her marriage to the minor princeling Henry of Battenberg in 1885 did not remove her from Victoria's side. A painfully shy person, Princess Beatrice was known to rest her shoulder against her neighbor's at dinner. She was devastated by her husband's death in 1896 in Africa during the Boer War. After her mother's death in 1901, Beatrice lived for her children, principally her daughter, Victoria Eugenie. Mother and daughter shared much in common and, significantly, both were transmitters of hemophilia, as became known after Victoria Eugenie became Queen Ena of Spain. On May 31, 1906, Ena married Alfonso XIII of Spain. In 1907 she produced an heir, Prince Austrias, who was hemophilic. A second son, born the following year, was a deaf mute. Another was stillborn. Two daughters and one son were born healthy, but Ena's last child was a hemophiliac as well.


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


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Created: April 29, 2001
Last updated: 9:59 PM 11/16/2009