Queen Victoria had nine children with her beloved husband Prince Albert; four boys and five girls.
Even though the monarch was said to have hated being pregnant and giving birth, she was incredibly proud of her children and was particularly close to Princess Beatrice, the “baby” of the family.
When her first child Victoria, known as Vicky, was born the Queen was heard to say: “The next will be a prince.” She was right, of course, but in the following years she would also welcome four more princesses.
These are the stories of their lives, including one’s marriage scandal and one who almost didn’t get to marry.
Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise
Born on 21 November, 1840, Victoria was known for her delightful sense of humour and highly emotional nature. She took after her father with her love of reading and was said to be his favourite of the girls.
On the other hand, Queen Victoria had been known to say Victoria was often “a difficult child.” When Vicky was 17, her mother wrote to her, “A more insubordinate and unequal-tempered child and girl I think I never saw!”
In 1858, young Victoria married Prince Frederick William of Prussia, later German Emperor Frederick III. Thirty years after the marriage, Frederick ascended the throne but he died of throat cancer following a reign of just three months.
When Queen Victoria died in January 1901, most of her children and grandchildren were by her side. However, Vicky was very sick with cancer of the spine and wasn’t able travel from Germany to see her mother one last time.
Seven months after Queen Victoria died, Vicky herself passed on August 5, 1901. Her daughter Sophie later became Queen of Greece.
Alice Maud Mary
Alice was born on April 25, 1843 and according to author John Van der Kiste, she was incredibly caring and always willing to help others. When her father, Prince Albert, was dying of typhoid, Alice spent most of her time nursing him.
His death finally came on December 16, 1861, and Alice was the daughter who provided much-needed moral support for her grieving mother.
In 1862, Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse and the Rhine. Moving to Germany must have been a huge shock for the Princess who was used to a very high standard of living in the UK. But in Hesse she lived in a small house near a busy road and the family had to make do with a small income.
The couple had seven children and the Queen made it clear she didn’t approve of Alice’s parenting style; Alice insisted on breastfeeding her children instead of using a wet nurse. In her life, Alice worked hard to support several charities, especially those involving women’s causes. She was also interested in nursing and became friends with Florence Nightingale.
Tragedy struck when her son Frederick died at the age of two, leaving Alice depressed for many years until, at the age of 35 in 1878, she died of diphtheria on the anniversary of her father’s death.
Helena Augusta Victoria
Helena, born on May 25, 1846 was cruelly described as the “plainest” of Queen Victoria’s five daughters, and was said to be a tomboy who never paid much attention to her appearance.
In 1866 Helena married German Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and the couple decided to live in England. Helena was an incredibly hard worker, helping at various charities and taking on a lot of the Queen’s work in her adult life. Behind the scenes she was very much her mother’s unofficial secretary.
Helena was the most active member of the royal family, working tirelessly for the Royal British Nurses’ Association and the Ladies’ Committee of the British Red Cross. She also helped provide free dinners for needy families and even found time to help author Charles Grey write a biography about her father, translating letters and various papers from German to English.
Helena and Christian had six children; four lived to adulthood. Helena died at the age of 77 following a series of heart attacks in 1923.
Louise Caroline Alberta
Louise, born on March 18, 1848, was considered the prettiest of Victoria’s daughters. She was a talented artist who was said to be excellent at painting, drawing and sculpting. She was passionate about the arts and was known as the most “forward thinking” of the royal family due to her support of female equality in education and employment.
Louise was the first of the royal family to attend a public education institution, studying at the National Art Training School. Her best work was said to be a statute of her mother wearing her coronation robes, and she also created memorials to colonial soldiers killed in the Boer War.
Louise married a commoner in March 1871, back in the days when it was very much unheard of. Her husband John Campbell later became the 9th Duke of Argyll and then a Liberal MP, and a governor general of Canada.
The couple had no children and were said to spend a lot of time apart — there were rumours John was gay and Louise was indulging in several affairs with men at court. Louise, known as the most rebellious of the Queen’s daughters, lived a very full life, keeping herself busy with charity work until she died at the age of 91, in 1939.
Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore
Beatrice, the baby of the family, was born on April 14, 1857, and became Queen Victoria’s closest confidante. She was known to be incredibly spoiled from a young age and very devoted to her mother.
When she was just five, she announced that she never wanted to be married and wanted to stay by her mother’s side for her entire life. She was good to her word for about 20 years, until she fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg.
However, the Queen didn’t approve of the relationship. Prince Henry’s brother Louis was married to one of Victoria’s nieces, which apparently had something to do with the Queen not supporting Beatrice’s choice of husband.
But Victoria eventually relented and said Beatrice could marry Henry so long as they lived with her in the palace. The marriage was said to be a happy one but ten years and four children later, Henry grew bored with palace life and perhaps had had enough of living under the watchful eye of his mother-in-law.
In 1895, he joined a military expedition to Africa where he caught malaria and, even though he was quickly sent back to England, he died on the way home — much to the devastation of Beatrice and the royal family. Beatrice remained her mother’s secretary, tending to her mother’s every wish and being a very present mother to her own four children.
When Prince Albert died in 1861, Beatrice remained by her mother’s side, devoted to the Queen for the rest of her life. Beatrice battled a variety of illnesses for much of her old age, dying at the age of 87, in 1944, the last of Queen Victoria’s devoted daughters.