As noted on Monday, we’re taking a look at the daughters of Empress Frederick (eldest daughter of Queen Victoria). Today we’re going to cover the second of four German princesses: Victoria of Prussia.
The most famous of Empress Frederick’s children is without a doubt Kaiser Wilhelm II. Ironically, this would also be the child with whom she had the worst relationship, for all told she produced eight children, six of whom reached adulthood. A year ago, I posted about her daughter, Sophie, who would end up marrying into the Greek Royal Family and became the Queen of the Hellenes in the lead up to World War I. Over the course of this week, we’re going to take a look at her three other daughters: Charlotte, Victoria and Margaret.
Ninety-nine years ago today, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, alongside his wife and four children, was brutally executed at Ekaterinburg in the midst of the Russian Revolution and before the close of World War I. The extermination of the Romanov line impacted not only the course of Russian history, but that of Western Europe and Great Britain, in particular, with whom the two ruling families were closely tied.
Personally, it was would deeply affect George V who had been forced to deny his cousins refuge in England out of political necessity.
Today, in 1870, Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia gave birth to her sixth child, Sophie, at the New Palace in Potsdam. Victoria, or “Vicky,” was the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of Crown Prince Frederick “Fritz.” The new baby joined three older brothers and two older sisters – a fourth brother, Sigismund, had died from meningitis at the age of two.
More importantly, Sophie was born as the Franco-Prussian war broke out. Her christening was attended by Prussia’s highest-ranking men in full military dress, including her father and the political thorn in his side, Otto von Bismarck. By the next year, the war was over and Prussia reigned supreme – her grandfather, Wilhelm I, was duly anointed Emperor of a unified Germany and Europe was never the same.
For those that saw the finale of the ITV series “Victoria,” you saw the birth of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s first child. That infant would grow up to be one of the most accomplished princesses that the UK ever turned out, one groomed to take on the role of bridge between Britain and Germany and hopefully facilitate an understanding between the two growing empires.
That she failed was through no fault of her own, but rather a series of developments neither she nor her parents foresaw before her arrival at the Prussian court in 1858. Remarkably intelligent, painstakingly well-educated and thoughtful, it remains a tragedy that Vicky and her husband, Emperor Frederick III, “Fritz,” would only sit on the German throne for 99 days after a 30-year wait. Even more so when one looks back with hindsight, knowing that the crown would be inherited by their son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who would shove the empire into World War I and eventually bring about the monarchy’s abolishment.
On January 27, 1859 Queen’s Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, gave birth to her first child at the Crown Prince’s Palace in Berlin. The birth was difficult: There was a delay in alerting doctors that the princess was in labor, doctors were hesitant to physically examine her and the baby was in breach. After a long and complicated labor, during which the lives of both mother and child were in danger, a son was delivered.
Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the baby’s left arm had been badly injured at birth due to Erb’s palsy, a condition that causes paralysis from nerve damage. Victoria, known as “Vicky” to her family, and her husband, Prince Frederick of Prussia, “Fritz,” were horrified – delivering a less than physically perfect heir to the Prussian throne was viewed as a personal failure by Vicky and raised concerns about the ability of their son to thrive in a masculine, militant court atmosphere.
Today, January 22, in 1901, Queen Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight after 63 years on the throne. Victoria had been at Osborne since Christmas, as per her tradition, however by the New Year she didn’t feel well enough to leave. Within three weeks she had passed away at the age of 81.
Three days later, her body was lifted into her coffin by her eldest son and successor, Edward VII; her eldest grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II; and her third and favorite son, Arthur, Duke of Connaught. Per instruction written out by the Queen in 1897, the funeral was white, she was dressed in a white gown with her wedding veil, and within her coffin was placed a dressing gown that had belonged to her long-dead husband, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; a lock of her Scottish servant’s, John Brown, hair; a ring from the Brown family that Brown had given to her; and various other mementos. The trinkets related to Brown were placed so as to be concealed by her left hand in the hopes they couldn’t be viewed by her family, the majority of whom detested the deceased servant.