Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg

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Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
Reina Victoria Eugenia.jpg
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 31 May 1906 – 14 April 1931
Spouse Alfonso XIII of Spain
Issue Alfonso, Prince of Asturias
Jaime, Duke of Segovia
Beatriz, Princess of Civitella-Cesi
Maria Cristina, Countess of Marone
Juan, Count of Barcelona
Infante Gonzalo of Spain
Full name
Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena
Father Prince Henry of Battenberg
Mother Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
Born (1887-10-24)24 October 1887
Balmoral Castle, Scotland, UK
Died 15 April 1969(1969-04-15) (aged 81)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Burial El Escorial
Religion Roman Catholicism
prev Anglicanism

Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena; 24 October 1887 – 15 April 1969) was Queen of Spain as the wife of King Alfonso XIII. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the first cousin of King George V of the United Kingdom, Queen Maud of Norway, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, Queen Marie of Romania, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Queen Louise of Sweden, and Queen Sophia of Greece. Felipe VI of Spain is her great-grandson.

Early life[edit]

Victoria Eugenie was born on 24 October 1887 at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland in the United Kingdom. Her father was Prince Henry of Battenberg, the fourth child and third son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine by his morganatic wife Countess Julia von Hauke, and her mother was Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

As Prince Henry was the product of a morganatic marriage, he took his style of Prince of Battenberg from his mother, who had been created Princess of Battenberg. As such Henry's daughter would normally have been born with the title Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. However, on 4 December 1886, Queen Victoria had issued letters patent granting the higher style of "Highness" to all sons and daughters of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice, thus she was born Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. She was named for her grandmother and for her godmother, Empress Eugénie, the Spanish-born widow of the former Emperor of the French Napoleon III, who lived in exile in the United Kingdom. To her family, and the British general public, she was known by the last of her names, as Ena.

Victoria Eugenie grew up in Queen Victoria's household, as the British monarch had reluctantly allowed Beatrice to marry on the condition that she remain her mother's full-time companion and personal secretary. She therefore spent her childhood at Windsor Castle, Balmoral, and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the future George V and Mary of Teck on 6 July 1893.[1]

Her father died while on active military service after contracting fever in Africa in 1896. After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Battenbergs moved to London and took up residence in Kensington Palace.

Engagement[edit]

Victoria Eugenie dressed in Spanish fashion, as painted by Joaquín Sorolla

In 1905 King Alfonso XIII of Spain made an official visit to the United Kingdom. Victoria Eugenie's uncle, King Edward VII, hosted a dinner in Buckingham Palace, in honour of the Spanish king. Alfonso sat down between Queen Alexandra and Princess Helena, King Edward's sister. He noticed Victoria Eugenie and asked who was the dinner guest with almost white hair. When she noticed the king's eyes upon her, Victoria Eugenie felt abashed. Everybody knew that King Alfonso was looking for a suitable bride and one of the strongest candidates was Princess Patricia of Connaught, daughter of King Edward's brother, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. As Princess Patricia seemed not to be impressed by the Spanish monarch, Alfonso indulged his interest in Victoria Eugenie, and so the courtship began. When Alfonso returned to Spain he frequently sent postcards to Victoria Eugenie and spoke of her approvingly. His widowed mother, Maria Christina of Austria, did not like her son's choice, in part because she considered the Battenbergs non-royal because of the obscure origin of Prince Henry's mother, and in part because she wanted her son to marry within her own family, the Habsburgs from Austria.[citation needed] Another obstacle to a marriage was Victoria Eugenie's Protestantism (Alfonso was Roman Catholic; she was Anglican). Another potential problem was haemophilia, the disease that Victoria had transmitted to some of her descendants. Eugenie's brother Leopold was a haemophiliac, so there was a 50% probability that Victoria Eugenie would be a carrier, although the degree of risk was not yet known. Still, if Alfonso married her, their issue could be affected by the disease. Nonetheless, Alfonso was not dissuaded.

After a year of rumours about which princess Alfonso would marry, Maria Christina of Austria finally acceded to her son's selection in January 1906 and wrote a letter to Princess Beatrice, Victoria Eugenie's mother, telling her about the love Alfonso felt for her daughter and seeking unofficial contact with King Edward VII. Some days later in Windsor, King Edward congratulated his niece on her future engagement.

Princess Beatrice and her daughter arrived in Biarritz on 22 January and stayed at the Villa Mauriscot where some days later King Alfonso met them. At the Villa Mauriscot, Alfonso and his future bride conducted a chaperoned, three-day-romance. Then, Alfonso took Victoria Eugenie and her mother to San Sebastián to meet Maria Christina of Austria. On 3 February, the king left San Sebastian to go to Madrid and Victoria Eugenie and her mother went to Versailles where the Princess would be instructed in the Catholic faith: As the future Queen of Spain, she agreed to convert. The official reception of Victoria Eugenie into the Catholic faith took place on 5 March 1906 at Miramar Palace in San Sebastián.

The terms of the marriage were settled by two agreements, a public treaty and a private contractual arrangement. The treaty was executed between Spain and the United Kingdom in London on 7 May 1906 by their respective plenipotentiaries, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, Don Luis Polo de Bernabé, and the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, Bt. Ratifications were exchanged on 23 May following. Among other conditions, the treaty stipulated:

BE it known unto all men by these Presents that whereas His Catholic Majesty Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, has judged it proper to announce his intention of contracting a marriage with Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, niece of His Majesty Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, and daughter of Her Royal Highness the Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg)...Article I. It is concluded and agreed that the marriage between His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII and Her said Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena shall be solemnized in person at Madrid as soon as the same may conveniently be done. II. His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII engages to secure to Her said Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena from the date of her marriage with His Majesty, and for the whole period of the marriage, an annual grant of 450,000 pesetas. His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII also engages, if, by the will of Divine Providence, the said Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena should become his widow, to secure to her, from the date of his death, an annual grant of 250,000 pesetas, unless and until she contracts a second marriage, both these grants having already been voted by the Cortes. The private settlements to be made on either side in regard to the said marriage will be agreed upon and expressed in a separate Contract, which shall, however, be deemed to form an integral part of the present Treaty...III. The High Contracting Parties take note of the fact that Her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, according to the due tenor of the law of England, forfeits for ever all hereditary rights of succession to the Crown and Government of Great Britain...[2]

The treaty's reference to the forfeiture of Ena's British succession rights reflected neither the British government's censure of the alliance, nor to any renunciation made by her. Rather, it was an explicit recognition of the fact that by marrying a Roman Catholic, Ena lost any right to inherit the British crown as a consequence of Britain's Act of Settlement. This exclusion was personal and limited: those among her descendants who do not become Roman Catholic remain in the Line of succession to the British Throne.

Despite this treaty, concern about reaction to the marriage and to Ena's conversion among Protestants was accommodated by the British government's decision that King Edward need not grant official consent to the marriage in his Privy Council, despite the fact that his niece was a British subject. Although the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 requires that descendants of King George II obtain the British sovereign's prior permission to marry by Order in Council, an exception exists for descendants of royal daughters that marry "into foreign families". Although the naturalisation of Ena's father in the United Kingdom had been initiated in Parliament a week prior to his marriage to Princess Beatrice, the nuptials were completed before the naturalisation, thus the Government was able to take the position that Ena was not bound by the Royal Marriages Act, and therefore the British king had legal authority neither to authorise nor forbid her marriage.

King Edward did, however, issue a royal warrant which read:

"Our Will and Pleasure is and we do hereby declare and ordain that from and after the date of this Warrant our Most Dear Niece Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, only daughter of Our Most Dear Sister Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg) shall be styled entitled and called Her Royal Highness before her name and such Titles and Appellations which to her belong in all Deeds Records Instruments or Documents whatsoever wherein she may at any time hereafter be named or described. And We do hereby authorize and empower Our said Most Dear Niece henceforth at all times to assume and use and to be called and named by the Style, Title and Appellation of Her Royal Highness accordingly. Given at Our Court of Saint James's, the Third day of April 1906: in the Sixth Year of Our Reign. By His Majesty's Command. M Gladstone"[3]

This was accompanied by a formal published declaration which read: "Whitehall 3 April 1906. The KING has been graciously pleased to declare and ordain that His Majesty's niece, Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena, daughter of Her Royal Highness the Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg), shall henceforth be styled and called "Her Royal Highness"; And to command that the said Royal concession and declaration be registered in His Majesty's College of Arms."[4]

Queen Consort of Spain[edit]

Assassination attempt of 1906
Queen Victoria Eugenie with her six children.From left to right: Infanta Maria Cristina, Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, Infante Gonzalo, Infante Juan, Queen Victoria Eugenie, Infante Jaime and Infanta Beatriz, 1918.

Princess Victoria Eugenie married King Alfonso XIII at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid on 31 May 1906. Present at the ceremony were her widowed mother and brothers, as well as her cousins, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom).

After the wedding ceremony, the royal procession was heading back to the Royal Palace when an assassination attempt was made on the King and Queen. Anarchist Mateu Morral threw a bomb from a balcony at the royal carriage. Victoria Eugenie's life was saved because, at the exact moment the bomb exploded, she turned her head in order to see St. Mary's Church, which Alfonso was showing her. She escaped injury, although her dress was spotted with the blood of a guard who was riding beside the carriage. There exists a large statue in front of the Royal Monastery of San Geronimo dedicated to the victims of the bombing of May 31, 1906.

After the inauspicious start to her tenure as Queen of Spain, Victoria Eugenie became isolated from the Spanish people and was unpopular in her new land. Her married life improved when she gave birth to a son and heir-apparent to the kingdom, Alfonso, Prince of Asturias. However, while the baby prince was being circumcised, the doctors noted that he did not stop bleeding — the first sign that the infant heir had haemophilia. Victoria Eugenie was the obvious source of the condition, which was inherited by her eldest and youngest sons. Contrary to the response of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, whose son and heir by another granddaughter of Queen Victoria was similarly afflicted, Alfonso is alleged never to have forgiven Victoria Eugenie nor to have come to terms with what had happened. In all, King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie had seven children, five sons and two daughters. Neither of their daughters is known to have been a carrier of haemophilia.

After the births of their children, Victoria Eugenie's relationship with Alfonso deteriorated, and he had numerous affairs. It has been said that he had a dalliance with the Queen's cousin, Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but this is not true. There is some evidence that Alfonso tried to seduce Beatrice, but she didn't give in.[citation needed] The king, in anger, expelled her and her husband from Spain.[citation needed] Then members of the king's circle spread rumours that Beatrice had been expelled because of her bad behaviour, which was not true. All this situation was very painful for Ena, who could do nothing to help her cousin.

Victoria Eugenie devoted herself to work for hospitals and services for the poor, as well as to education. She was also involved in the reorganization of the Spanish Red Cross. In 1929, the city of Barcelona erected a statue of her in a nurses uniform in honor of her Red Cross work (the statue has since been destroyed). Various Spanish landmarks have been named after Victoria Eugenie. For instance, in 1909, Madrid's stately neoclassical bridge crossing the Manzanares River was named after her as the "Puente de la Reina Victoria". In 1912, the monumental opera house and theater "Teatro Victoria Eugenia" in San Sebastián, Spain, was named after her. In 1920, she launched the Spanish Navy Cruiser Reina Victoria Eugenia which was named after her.

She was the 976th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa. In 1923, Pope Pius XI conferred upon her the Golden Rose which was the first time this honor had been awarded on a British-born princess since 1555 when Pope Julius III conferred one upon Queen Mary I of England.[5] She was also granted the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert by her grandmother, Queen Victoria. The Queen was also awarded the Spanish Red Cross Merit Order (First Class) and the jeweled breast star was paid for by a subscription undertaken by the Corp of Lady Nurses of the Spanish Red Cross.

Exile[edit]

The Spanish royal family went into exile on 14 April 1931 after municipal elections brought Republicans to power in most of the major cities, leading to the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. Alfonso XIII had hoped that his voluntary exile might avert a civil war between the Republicans and the Nationalists. The royal family went to live in France and later Italy. Victoria Eugenie and Alfonso later separated, and she lived partly in the UK and, after being invited to leave this country by its government, in Switzerland. She purchased a chateau, the Vieille Fontaine, outside Lausanne.

In 1938, the whole family gathered in Rome for the baptism of Juan's eldest son, Juan Carlos. On 15 January 1941, Alfonso XIII, feeling his death was near, transferred his rights to the Spanish crown to his son, Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona. On 12 February, Alfonso suffered a first heart attack. Alfonso died on 28 February 1941. In 1942 Queen Victoria Eugenie was obliged to leave Italy having become persona non grata to the Italian government - according to Harold Tittmann, a U.S. representative at the Vatican at the time, for her "ill-disguised leanings to the Allied cause." [6]

Queen Victoria Eugenie returned briefly to Spain in February 1968, to stand as godmother at the baptism of her great-grandson, Infante Felipe, the son of Infante Juan Carlos and Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark. Felipe became king of Spain after his father's abdication in June 2014.

Later life[edit]

Victoria Eugenie died in Lausanne on 15 April 1969, aged 81, exactly 38 years after she had left Spain for exile. She was interred in the church of Sacré Coeur in Lausanne. On 25 April 1985, her remains were returned to Spain and re-interred in the Royal Vault in the Escorial, outside Madrid, next to the remains of her husband, Alfonso XIII, and her sons, Infante Alfonso, Infante Jaime, and Infante Gonzalo.

Legacy[edit]

Victoria Eugenie's great-grandson Felipe VI is the present King of Spain. She was also the godmother of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, the godmother of Queen Fabiola of Belgium, and the godmother of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba.

Victoria Eugenie's Cartier tiara of diamonds set with pearls (or alternatively with emeralds) was left to her daughter, Infanta Maria Cristina, Countess of Marone. It is now worn by Queen Sofia.[7] In addition, her Ansorena Fleur de Lis tiara given to her by Alfonso XIII at her wedding has become the most important tiara in the Spanish Royal collection and is worn by Queen Sofia for important state occasions.

A sapphire ring owned by Victoria Eugenie was sold at Sotheby's in May 2012 for $50,000.[8] That same year, Sotheby's also sold at auction Victoria Eugenie's diamond and pink conch shell bracelet by Cartier for the extraordinary price of $3.4 million. [9]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Royal Monogram as Queen of Spain

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 24 October 1887 – 3 April 1906: Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
  • 3 April[10] – 31 May 1906: Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
  • 31 May 1906 – 14 April 1931: Her Majesty The Queen
  • 14 April 1931 – 15 April 1969: Her Majesty Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

Arms[edit]

Arms of Queen Victoria Eugenie.

Victoria Eugenie's coat of arms as Queen of Spain were the former Lesser Royal Coat of Arms of Spain used by the House of Bourbon, impaled with the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (in the English version), overall an inescutcheon with the arms of her father Prince Henry of Battenberg; quarterly 1st and 4th, Hesse (modified), 2nd and 3rd, Battenberg. The Prince Henry's arms modified by a bordure charged with the lions of England (eight).

Blazon:

Quarterly, first and fourth Gules, a three towered castle Or, masoned Sable and ajouré Azure (for Castile), second and third Argent, a lion rampant Purpure (blazoned Gules) crowned Or (for León), enté en point; Argent, a pomegranate proper seeded Gules, supported, sculpted and leafed in two leaves Vert (for Granada), overall an inescutcheon Azure a bordure Gules, three fleurs-de-lys Or (for Bourbon-Anjou); impaled with quarterly, first and fourth Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), second quarter Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland), overall an inescutcheon quarterly, first and fourth Azure a lion rampant barry of ten argent and gules, armed or a bordure compony Argent and Gules (for Hesse, modified), second and third Argent, two pallets Sable (for Battenberg), a bordure Gules charged with eight lions passant gardant Or armed and langued Azure (for England).[11][12]


Issue[edit]

Name Birth Death Notes
Don Alfonso de Borbón y Battenberg, Prince of Asturias, later Count of Covadonga 10 May 1907 6 September 1938(1938-09-06) (aged 31) renounced rights to the Spanish throne for himself and his descendants (because of his intended unequal marriage), 11 June 1933; m. 1st 1933 (div. 1937) Edelmira Ignacia Adriana Sampedro-Robato (5 March 1906 – 23 May 1994); m. 2nd 1937 (div. 1938) Marta Esther Rocafort-Altuzarra (18 September 1913 – 4 February 1993). He died in a car crash in 1938
Infante Don Jaime de Borbón y Battenberg, Duke of Segovia, later assumed the titles Duke of Anjou, Madrid, and Segovia 23 June 1908 20 March 1975(1975-03-20) (aged 66) renounced rights to the Spanish throne (because of his physical infirmities), 21 June 1933; m. 1st Rome 1935 (div. 1947 and 1949) Emanuela de Dampierre (8 November 1913 - 3 May 2012); m. 2nd 1949 Charlotte Tiedemann (2 January 1919 – 3 July 1979). At the age of four he suffered from double mastoiditis and the resulting operation left him deaf; his speech never developed properly
Infanta Doña Beatriz de Borbón y Battenberg 22 June 1909 22 November 2002(2002-11-22) (aged 93) m. 1935 Alessandro Torlonia, 5th Prince of Civitella-Cesi (7 December 1911 – 12 May 1986)
Infante Fernando de Borbón y Battenberg 21 May 1910 21 May 1910(1910-05-21) (aged 0) stillborn
Infanta Doña María Cristina de Borbón y Battenberg 12 December 1911 23 December 1996(1996-12-23) (aged 85) m. 1940 Count Enrico Marone (15 March 1895 – 23 October 1968), and had issue
Don Juan, Count of Barcelona 20 June 1913 1 April 1993(1993-04-01) (aged 79) recognised as heir apparent to the Spanish throne and held the title Prince of Asturias from 21 June 1933, but preferred to use the title Count of Barcelona; renounced his claim to the throne in favour of his son, Juan Carlos on 14 May 1977; m. 1935 his cousin Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (23 December 1910 – 2 January 2000), and had issue
Infante Don Gonzalo de Borbón y Battenberg 24 October 1914 13 August 1934(1934-08-13) (aged 19) also a haemophiliac. He died in a car accident in Austria

Ancestry[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "'The Duke and Duchess of York and Bridesmaids'". National Portrait Gallery. 
  2. ^ "Hoelseth's Royal Corner". Spanish royal family links. Dag Trygsland Hoelseth. Archived from the original on 2007-11-20. Retrieved 11 November 2006. 
  3. ^ François Velde. "Royal Styles and Titles of Great Britain: Documents". Heraldica.org. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  4. ^ "News photos | Entertainment pictures, news photos and events images". News.webshots.com. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  5. ^ Cunliffe, Frederick (1923-05-13). "Pope's Gold Rose for Queens - Victoria of Spain Gets One - King Henry VIII. Got Three - Article - NYTimes.com". Select.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  6. ^ Inside the Vatican of Pius XI, Harold Tittmann, p.32 , Image book, Doubleday,2004
  7. ^ The Cartier Diamond and Pearl Tiara http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2012/02/tiara-thursday-cartier-diamond-and.html
  8. ^ "Magnificent jewels and noble jewels". 
  9. ^ http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/royal-diamond-bracelet-fetches-3-4m-auction-article-1.1202477
  10. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 4 April 1906
  11. ^ Bouza, Antonio L. (1990), El Ex-Libris Tratado general. Su historia en la corona española, Madrid: Patrimonio Nacional, ISBN 978-84-7120-142-3 
  12. ^ Queen Victoria Eugenie's Arms, Ex libris Bookplates, bookplate-jvarnoso.blogspot.com

References[edit]

  • Eilers, Marlene A. (1987). Queen Victoria's Descendants. New York: Atlantic International. ISBN 0-938311-04-2. 
  • "Franco at Bourbon Prince's Baptism", The Times, 9 February 1968, p. 4, column 4.
  • "Queen Victoria Eugénie, Granddaughter of Queen Victoria (Obituary)", The Times, 16 April 1969, p. 12, column E.

External links[edit]

Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
Cadet branch of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt
Born: 24 October 1887 Died: 15 April 1969
Spanish royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Maria Christina of Austria
Queen consort of Spain
1906–1931
Vacant
Title next held by
Sophia of Greece and Denmark