Women Who Ruled: Queen Victoria, part 14

In April of 1857 Queen Victoria gave birth to her ninth and final child, Beatrice. The next January her eldest, Princess Victoria, was wedded to Crown Prince Frederick William of Germany and Prussia. Both Victoria and her consort Albert were sad to see their pride and joy go. In one of the Queen’s frequent letters to her daughter she wrote, “It really makes me shudder when I look around to all your sweet, happy, unconscious sisters and think I must give them up too — one by one.” 

A year later the younger Victoria and Frederick welcomed the Queen of England’s first grandchild Wilhelm. Victoria and Albert had hoped their daughter and son-in-law might be moderating influences on the fast growing kingdom’s authoritarian leanings.  The younger couple were well suited together, and planned to reign together as Victoria and Albert. Unfortunately Frederick was already dying of cancer when he inherited his father’s crowns, and he reigned only 99 days before expiring. Wilhelm reigned with an iron fist and his actions spurred the First World War. 

Queen Victoria’s domineering mother the Duchess of Kent died in early 1861. Going through her effects, Victoria leaened her mother had loved her deeply. She felt tremendous anguish over the rift between them and the years apart, and blamed her governess and her mother’s advisor for souring things. While she grieved Albert, plagued by constant stomach ailments, took over most of her duties. 

Victoria’s heir Crown Prince Albert Edward had never been the great pupil his older sister was, and he longed for an active military service his mother forbade. In 1860 he took a grand tour of North America, to see and be seen.  It was a success, although word of immoral conduct crossed the Atlantic to his parents. In 1861 the Crown Prince was sent to Dublin “to watch military manoeuvres”, really to meet the woman his parents wanted him to marry, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. 

During this trip to Ireland, the prince spent three nights with an Irish actress his army buds snuck into the camp. He was back at Cambridge University by the time his parents had been alerted. Prince Consort Albert went to chastise him. Two weeks later, in August 1861, the king died. At the time his death was attributed to typhoid fever, but due to his illness for at least two years prior, modern historians think abdominal cancer a more likely culprit. Victoria blamed her eldest son. 

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