Victoria, Princess Royal

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For other princesses named "Victoria", see Princess Victoria (disambiguation).
Victoria
Vicky.jpg
German Empress;
Queen consort of Prussia
Tenure 9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888
Spouse Frederick III, German Emperor
Issue Wilhelm II, German Emperor
Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen
Prince Henry
Prince Sigismund
Viktoria, Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe
Prince Waldemar
Sophie, Queen of the Hellenes
Margaret, Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel
Full name
Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise
House House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
(by birth)
House of Hohenzollern (by marriage)
Father Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Mother Queen Victoria
Born (1840-11-21)21 November 1840
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Died 5 August 1901(1901-08-05) (aged 60)
Schloss Friedrichshof, Kronberg im Taunus, German Empire
Burial 13 August 1901
Friedenskirche, Potsdam, German Empire

Victoria, Princess Royal (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa; 21 November 1840 – 5 August 1901) was the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert. She was created Princess Royal of the United Kingdom in 1841. She became German Empress and Queen of Prussia by marriage to German Emperor Frederick III. After her husband's death, she became widely known as Empress Frederick (German: Kaiserin Friedrich).

Early life[edit]

Victoria with her father, Albert

Princess Victoria was born on 21 November 1840 at Buckingham Palace, London. Her mother and namesake was Queen Victoria, the only child of George III's fourth eldest son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Her father was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She was baptised in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace on 10 February 1841 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley. Her godparents were her great-aunt Queen Adelaide, her great-uncle King Leopold I of Belgium, her paternal grandfather Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (for whom The Duke of Wellington, Tory Leader in the Lords, stood proxy), her maternal great-uncle The Duke of Sussex, her maternal great-aunt The Duchess of Gloucester and her maternal grandmother The Duchess of Kent.[1]

As a daughter of the sovereign, Victoria was automatically a British princess with the style Her Royal Highness, styled HRH The Princess Victoria (and in addition being heiress presumptive to the throne of the United Kingdom before the birth of her younger brother Prince Albert, later Edward VII on 9 November 1841). In 1841, the Queen created Victoria Princess Royal, giving her an honorary title sometimes conferred on the eldest daughter of the sovereign. Victoria was then styled HRH The Princess Royal. To her family, she was known simply as "Vicky".

The education of Victoria was closely supervised by her parents. She was precocious and intelligent, unlike her brother Albert Edward. She was taught to read and write before the age of five by her governess Lady Lyttelton and to speak French by her French nursery maid. The Princess Royal learned French and German from various governesses, and science, literature, Latin, and history from Sara Ann Hildyard. Prince Albert tutored her in politics and philosophy. The German astronomer Wilhelm Julius Foerster reported that the Empress visited the Berlin Observatory frequently and took keen interest in his astronomical work, and in the growth of the German Society for Ethical Culture.[2]

Marriage[edit]

In 1851, Victoria met her future husband, Prince Frederick William of Prussia (18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888), when he and his parents were invited to London by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to attend the opening of the Great Exhibition. At the time, Frederick, the son of Prince William of Prussia and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar, was second in line to the Prussian throne (after his father). The couple became engaged in 1855 while Frederick was on a visit to Balmoral; Victoria was just fourteen, while her future husband was a young man of twenty-four.

The Prussian Court and Buckingham Palace publicly announced the engagement on 19 May 1857. Seventeen-year-old Victoria married Frederick, at Queen Victoria's insistence, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, on 25 January 1858. The marriage was both a love match and a dynastic alliance. The Queen and Prince Albert hoped that Victoria's marriage to the future king of Prussia would cement close ties between London and Berlin, and possibly lead to the emergence of a unified and liberal Germany. At the time of their wedding, Londoners chanted "God save the Prince and Bride! God keep their lands allied!"

Crown Princess of Prussia[edit]

Victoria in 1867, portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

In January 1861, on the death of his childless uncle King Frederick William IV of Prussia and the accession of his father as King William I, Prince Frederick became Crown Prince of Prussia, Victoria therefore became Crown Princess. The new Crown Prince and Crown Princess, however, were politically isolated; their liberal and Anglophile views clashing with the authoritarian rule of the Prussian minister-president, Otto von Bismarck. Despite their efforts to educate their son, Wilhelm, in British attitudes of democracy, he favoured his German tutors in aspiring to autocratic rule and thus became alienated from his parents, suspecting them of putting Britain's interests first. The couple had the use of the Crown Prince's Palace located in the heart of Berlin.

During the three Wars of German Unification – the 1864 Prussian-Danish War, the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, and the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War – Victoria and Frederick strongly identified with the cause of Prussia and the North German Confederation. Their sympathies created a rift among Queen Victoria's extended family, since Victoria's younger brother, the Prince of Wales, was married to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the elder daughter of Christian IX of Denmark, who was also reigning duke of the disputed territories of Schleswig and Holstein. At Versailles on 18 January 1871, the victorious princes of the North German Confederation proclaimed a German Empire with King William I of Prussia as the hereditary German Emperor (Deutscher Kaiser) with the style Imperial and Royal Majesty (Kaiserliche und Königliche Majestät); Frederick and Victoria became German Crown Prince and German Crown Princess with the style Imperial and Royal Highness (Kaiserliche und Königliche Hoheit).

German Empress and Empress Frederick[edit]

British Royalty
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
Descendants of Victoria & Albert
Victoria, Princess Royal
Edward VII
Princess Alice
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha
Princess Helena
Princess Louise
Arthur, Duke of Connaught
Leopold, Duke of Albany
Princess Beatrice

On the death of his father on 9 March 1888, the Crown Prince ascended the throne as the Emperor Frederick III (and as King Frederick III of Prussia) and Victoria adopted the title and style of Her Imperial and Royal Majesty The German Empress, Queen of Prussia. Frederick, however, was terminally ill with throat cancer and died after reigning 99 days. From then on she was known simply as Her Imperial Majesty The Empress Frederick.[3][4]

She was often known as Die Engländerin (the Englishwoman) due to her origins in the United Kingdom, even though her ancestry was almost entirely German. Indeed, she continued to speak English in her German household. Like her mother, she dressed in mourning clothing for the rest of her life.

The widowed Victoria lived in retirement at Castle Friedrichshof, a castle she had built in memory of her late husband in the hills near Kronberg not far from Frankfurt am Main. Politically, she remained a liberal in contrast with her son Emperor William II. Their relationship had earlier been difficult but improved once she was no longer in the limelight. In Berlin, Victoria established schools for the higher education of girls and for nurses' training. As a talented and gifted artist in her own right, she was a patron of the arts and learning, becoming one of the organizers of the 1872 Industrial Art Exhibition.

Throughout her married life and widowhood, Victoria kept in close touch with other members of the British Royal Family, particularly her younger brother, the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.

She maintained a regular correspondence with her mother. According to the Royal Encyclopaedia, some 3,777 letters from Queen Victoria to her eldest daughter have been catalogued, as well as more than 4,000 from daughter to mother. Many of her letters detailed her concern over Germany's future under her son. She was concerned that the letters should not fall into the hands of her son William II and that he should not know what had happened to them. At her request the letters were brought back to England in a cloak-and-dagger operation by Frederick Ponsonby, her godson, the private secretary of Edward VII, who was making his (Edward's) final visit to his terminally ill sister in Kronberg for a week up to 1 March 1901. These letters were later edited by Ponsonby and put into context by his background commentary to form the book that was published in 1928.[5]

Death[edit]

Victoria was diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer in 1899 during a visit to her mother at Balmoral. By the autumn of 1900, the cancer spread to her spine and after much suffering, she died at Castle Friedrichshof on 5 August 1901, less than seven months after the death of her mother, Queen Victoria. She was buried in the royal mausoleum of the Friedenskirche at Potsdam on 13 August 1901. Her tomb has a recumbent marble effigy of herself on top. Next to her lies her beloved husband. Two of her eight children, Sigismund (died age 2) and Waldemar (died age 11), are buried in the same mausoleum.

Portrayal in film, television and literature[edit]

She has been portrayed in a number of film and television productions since her death. Perhaps the most notable was in 1975 when Felicity Kendal played Vicky in Edward the Seventh, including the scenes during her final months when the character was 60 years but Kendal was only in her 29th year.[6] Other portrayals include Gemma Jones (Fall of Eagles, 1974) and Ruth Hellberg (Bismarck), 1940 as well as Catherine Punch (Bismarck, 1990).[7] While she is portrayed as a naive English princess in the Bismarck films, the new German film Vicky - die vergessene Kaiserin ("The Forgotten Empress", in preproduction), tries to show her in a different light. In July 2014 the first novel about Victoria was published in Germany, "Ihr Name ist Victoria" by Boris Anderson.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Styles of
Empress Frederick as consort
Standard of Empress Frederick
Reference style Her Imperial and Royal Majesty
Spoken style Your Imperial and Royal Majesty

Titles and styles[edit]

United Kingdom United Kingdom

  • 21 November 1840 – 19 January 1841:[8] Her Royal Highness The Princess Victoria
  • 19 January 1841 – 5 August 1901: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

Kingdom of Prussia Prussia

  • 25 January 1858 – 2 January 1861: Her Royal Highness Princess Frederick of Prussia
  • 2 January 1861 – 9 March 1888: Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Prussia
  • 9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888: Her Majesty The Queen of Prussia
  • 15 June 1888 – 5 August 1901: Her Majesty The Queen Mother of Prussia

German Empire Germany

  • 18 January 1871 – 9 March 1888: Her Imperial and Royal Highness The German Crown Princess
  • 9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888: Her Imperial and Royal Majesty The German Empress
  • 15 June 1888 – 5 August 1901: Her Imperial Majesty The Empress Victoria

Honours[edit]

Arms[edit]

With her style of Princess Royal, Victoria was granted use of the royal arms, as then used: with an escutcheon of the shield of Saxony, the whole differenced by a label argent of three points, the outer points bearing crosses gules, the central a rose gules.[10]

Coat of Arms of Victoria, the Princess Royal.svg
Victoria's coat of arms as Princess Royal of the United Kingdom
Lesser Coat of Arms of Empress Victoria.svg
Lesser Coat of Arms of Empress Victoria
Royal Monogram of Empress Victoria of Germany as Princess Royal of Great Britain.svg
Royal Monogram as Princess Royal of Great Britain
Royal Monogram of Empress Victoria of Germany.svg
Imperial Monogram as Empress of Germany

Issue[edit]

Victoria and Frederick had eight children:

Image Name Birth Death Notes
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R95251, Kaiser Wilhelm II..jpg Wilhelm II, German Emperor 27 January 1859 4 June 1941 married (1), 27 February 1881, Princess Auguste Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein; died 1921; had issue
(2), 9 November 1922, Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, no issue
Laslo - Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen.jpg Princess Charlotte 24 July 1860 1 October 1919 married, 18 February 1878, Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen; had issue
Prince Albert Wilhelm Heinrich of Prussia.jpg Prince Henry 14 August 1862 20 April 1929 married, 24 May 1888, his first cousin Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine; had issue
Sigismund (1).jpg Prince Sigismund 15 September 1864 18 June 1866 died of meningitis at 21 months. First grandchild of Queen Victoria to die.
Margit porosz királyi hercegnő.jpg Princess Victoria 12 April 1866 13 November 1929 married (1), 19 November 1890, Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe; he died 1916; no issue
(2), 19 November 1927, Alexander Zoubkov; no issue
Prince Waldemar of Prussia.jpg Prince Waldemar 10 February 1868 27 March 1879 died of diphtheria at age 11
Sophia of Prussia.jpg Princess Sophie 14 June 1870 13 January 1932 married, 27 October 1889, Constantine I, King of the Hellenes; had issue
Margit of Prussia.jpg Princess Margaret 22 April 1872 22 January 1954 married, 25 January 1893, Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse; had issue

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings
  2. ^ Hagenhoff, M. Pelagia. The Educational Philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press. 1946: p. 3.ISBN 978-1258290085]
  3. ^ "1901-08-08". The Marquess of Salisbury, Prime Minister and Lord Privy Seal. Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (United Kingdom: House of Lords). 
  4. ^ "Her Imperial Majesty, The Empress Frederick, soon after Kaiser Frederick's death.". 1888 letters. barnardf.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  5. ^ The 'cloak-and-dagger operation', Ponsonby's position as her godson, and the background to his decision to publish the letters are described in Letters of the Empress Frederick on pp. ix–xix.
  6. ^ Felicity Kendal - IMDb
  7. ^ Kaiserin Friedrich (Character)
  8. ^ The Peerage – Victoria, Princess Royal
  9. ^ Addison, Henry Robert (1897). Who's who. London: Adam & Charles Black. p. 96. 
  10. ^ Heraldica – British Royalty Cadency. In 1917, the escutcheon was dropped by royal warrant from George V. Of course Victoria had died in 1901 and the arms had not been used by her since her marriage to Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, later German Emperor Friedrich III.

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas Weiberg: … wie immer Deine Dona. Verlobung und Hochzeit des letzten deutschen Kaiserpaares. Isensee-Verlag, Oldenburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89995-406-7.
  • Sir Frederick Ponsonby (Ed.), Briefe der Kaiserin Friedrich. Eingeleitet von Wilhelm II., Verlag für Kulturpolitik, Berlin 1929 [Letters of Empress Friedrich. Introduction by Wilhelm II.]. New Edition H. Knaur Verlag, München, ISBN 5-19-977337-2.
  • Karin Feuerstein-Praßer: Die deutschen Kaiserinnen. 1871–1918. Piper Verlag, München 2005. ISBN 3-492-23641-3.
  • Franz Herre: Kaiserin Friedrich – Victoria, eine Engländerin in Deutschland. Hohenheim Verlag, Stuttgart 2006. ISBN 3-89850-142-6
  • Patricia Kolander: Frederick III – Germany’s Liberal Emperor. Greenwood Press, Westport 1995. ISBN 0-313-29483-6.
  • Pakula, Hannah (1995). An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick, Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84216-5. 
  • Wilfried Rogasch (Hrsg.): Victoria & Albert, Vicky & The Kaiser: ein Kapitel deutsch-englischer Familiengeschichte [Cat. of the Exhibition in the Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin] Hatje Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit 1997. ISBN 3-86102-091-2.
  • Andrew Sinclair: Victoria – Kaiserin für 99 Tage. Gustav Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch Gladbach 1987, ISBN 3-404-61086-5.
  • John Van der Kiste John Van Der Kiste (2001). Dearest Vicky, Darling Fritz: Queen Victoria's eldest daughter and the German Emperor. Sutton Publishing, Stroud. ISBN 0-750-93052-7. 
Victoria, Princess Royal
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 21 November 1840 Died: 5 August 1901
British royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Princess Charlotte
Princess Royal
1841–1901
Vacant
Title next held by
Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife
German royalty
Preceded by
Augusta of Saxe-Weimar
German Empress
9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888
Succeeded by
Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein
Queen consort of Prussia
9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888