In addition to the physical discomforts of gestation, each pregnancy took Victoria away from her role as monarch, a fact she detested. Though she continued to work on state business throughout portions of her pregnancies, both the conventions of the time and the demands of motherhood forced her to hand over many responsibilities to Albert as her regent during these periods. It was no moderate amount of time either—between the birth of her first child in November of and the birth of her fourth in August of , Queen Victoria spent only 17 pregnancy-free months in which she was able to freely rule.
The Queen was undeniably fond of her children, though her involvement with them was significantly less than might be expected of a modern mother. While she joyfully oversaw the bathing and bedding of Vicky, and to a lesser extent Bertie the future King Edward VII , as her family grew, she spent less time directly overseeing the care of her kids, admitting in later letters to Vicky that she would only check in on them directly once every three months. It is not possible to be on happy friendly terms with people you have just been scolding," Albert wrote to Victoria on her parenting.
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That said, Albert's participation in raising his children was frequently remarked upon—he was not only present for all of their births, an oddity for the time period, he also took an active role in their clothing, care, and education: calling for seven hours of rigorous study, seven days a week for his sons a step down from the nine hours of study he'd prescribed himself at age Albert imagined their large family as an example of the excellence that the European monarchies could stand for.
His involvement wasn't without its pitfalls, though, particularly for young Bertie and Alfred, who were subjected to corporal punishment when they failed to achieve the high standards their father had set. Vicky was widely considered Albert's favorite child, but there is no doubt that the Princess Royal held a special place in both of her parents' hearts. Born three weeks early, Vicky's poor health as a baby caused some of the first major friction between the couple, who disagreed of the best way to care for her.
Despite her weakened start and the general disappointment that she had failed to be a male heir "Never mind," Victoria said after Vicky's birth, "the next will be a Prince. Though Queen Victoria appeared to be, in some respects, jealous of Albert's doting on Vicky he lauded her as "very intelligent and observant" and even had one of her baby teeth crafted into a brooch for her mother , Victoria's eldest child, remained one of her closest confidants throughout her life. The two shared letters regularly and sometimes even daily after Vicky's marriage to Frederick II took her to Germany to become the Empress and some of the most telling insights about her personal life come from this correspondence.
The two died in the same year, with Vicky outliving her mother by just over six months. Whether Victoria wanted children or not, it was never in doubt that she would be obliged to have some, with a male heir being of paramount importance. However, Bertie wasn't precisely the heir his parents envisioned.
He had inherited his mother's willfulness and was far from the logical academic Albert had hoped to raise as the future king of England. In fact, it wasn't until he was ten that Bertie came to realize that it was he, and not his more clever and beloved sister Vicky, who was set to inherit the throne. His mother complained of his "systematic idleness and laziness," which she deemed "enough to break one's heart. The true disappointment would come in another form, though, that of an actress named Nellie Clifton, with whom Bertie had a brief dalliance the first of many scandalous love affairs that would in the future king's life.
Upon learning of the romance, Albert became enraged, railing against his son for what he saw as a weakness of character and for bringing shame to the family. When Albert died just weeks after the confrontation, Victoria placed the blame for his sudden turn on Bertie. That boy I never can or shall look at him without a shudder," she wrote. On her decision to send Bertie away on a trip abroad which Albert had planned to complete his education, she added that, "Many wish to shake my resolution and to keep him here," but that to do so would "force a contact that is more than ever unbearable to me.
Though Victoria did continue to see Bertie throughout the rest of her life and allowed him to represent her at official events in her later years, Victoria never truly forgave him, and he was not allowed any political power or station until he became king after his mother's death, having spent 59 years as the heir apparent. If Vicky was Albert's favorite, then Beatrice was Victoria's. The youngest of Victoria and Albert's brood, she was beautiful and precocious in her youth. But after Albert's passing, Beatrice became the vehicle for Victoria's focus, doting on her but also demanding all of her time and attention.
Even in the royal family, the youngest daughter was expected to hold to the traditions of the time and give up on marriage to spend her life as a caregiver and companion for her parents.
By the time Beatrice came of age, Victoria dreaded the idea of her daughter leaving her so much she forbade the mention of weddings in Beatrice's presence and the young Princess became increasingly withdrawn and isolated. It came as a particular blow to the Queen, then, when at the age of 27 Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry, the third son of Alexander of Battenberg.
The couple met at the wedding of one of Victoria's nieces and were swiftly engaged—without asking Victoria's permission beforehand. Victoria considered the entire affair a great deception and, according to Beatrice, did not speak to her youngest daughter from May of when the engagement was announced, to November of that year. And remain at her side Beatrice did—after Henry died of malaria on a mission with the army in Africa ten years into their marriage, Beatrice further devoted herself to her mother, spending the remaining years of Victoria's life as her mother's unofficial secretary.
Victoria was an enormously prolific writer of letters and diaries—she's said to have written over 2, words a day for the entirety of her adult life—and many of the Queen's decidedly unsaccharine sentiments about motherhood come directly from her own hand. Critics often point to Victoria's seemingly all-consuming affection for Albert and her laments that their children failed to console her in his absence. I only feel properly a mon aise and quite happy when Albert is with me. However, many of her most famous quotes on motherhood came well into her career as a mother, long past the blush of her children's babyhood when she would remark upon them with delight in her diaries.
In a missive to Vicky, who was preparing for her own children she wrote , "I am no admirer of babies generally — there are exceptions — for instance your sisters Alice, and Beatrice were very pretty from the very first — yourself also-rather so — Arthur too Did you know that, with her husband Prince Albert , Queen Victoria raised nine youngsters?
Like the Queen, they grew up to become important figures in British history. An intelligent, enthusiastic youngster, her parents made sure she received a very good education — she was learning to speak French and German before she was five, in fact! Victoria spent the rest of her life in mourning and retired to Schloss Friedrichshof , a castle she had built in memory of Frederick. Her own death came a-calling 5 August , when Vicky was 60 years old.
Next came Bertie, or officially Albert Edward, born 9 November As a young boy, he was rather mischievous and quite the trouble maker! But his parents were quick to fix that, and put him on a strict education regime to ensure he was prepared to become King of England in the future! Whilst she continued to rule over England, she allowed Bertie to represent her at important occasions and social events. He ruled the country with energy and enthusiasm, and he quickly became a popular king.
He also helped build good relationships between Britain and other countries. Alice was known for her kind and caring nature. She nursed her father in his final days, and comforted her grieving mother following his death. Throughout her life, Alice cared for those in need.
During times of war, Alice helped make bandages and visited hospitals to care for wounded soldiers.
And even more tragedy came a few years later when the household fell ill to a disease called diphtheria. Shortly after, Alice herself caught diphtheria, too, and sadly died 14 December , age On 6 August , Queen Victoria gave birth to her second son, Alfred. A cheeky, mischievous youngster, the family always referred to him as Affie. At just fourteen, Alfred joined the Royal Navy — and he proved to have a great set of sea legs!
He quickly moved up through the ranks and in February , when he was 21, he became Captain of a ship called HMS Galatea. Alfred loved to travel, and in he set sail on a world voyage on the HMS Galatea — a voyage that saw him become the first British Royal to visit Australia!
The role meant that, much to his disappointment, he had to leave behind his work in the Navy. Next came another girl…Princess Helena, born 25 May The family often referred to her as Lenchen, a shortened version of the German nickname for Helena — Helenchen. As youngster, she was a tough little girl who stood up for herself against her older siblings. Go, Lenchen! So that Helena could stay close to her mother, who she carried out duties for, the couple moved into a country house in Windsor Great Park. They had five children in total but, tragically, their last child, Harald, died just eight days after his birth.
Helena was an enthusiastic and active woman. She had a great interest in nursing and became a founding member of the British Red Cross — a society helping people in times of crisis. She was creative, too, and became the founding member of the Royal School of Needlework. Helena and her husband Christian are said to have had a very happy marriage together. Sadly, Christian died in , shortly after their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
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Helena herself died six years later, on 9 June , in Schomberg House , London. At the time, it was very unusual for a princess not to marry a prince. Louise was keen to improve opportunities for women. She also founded the Ladies Work Society in , helping poor women make money from needlework. She pursued her love of art, too, and in completed her most famous art work — a statue of Queen Victoria which stands at Kensington Palace. Louise herself died 3 December , aged 91 after a long and eventful life.