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Authors: Matthew Dennison

Tags: #History, #Europe, #Great Britain, #Biography & Autobiography, #Royalty

The Last Princess



The Devoted Life of
Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter


St. Martin’s Press

THE LAST PRINCESS. Copyright © 2007 by Matthew Dennison. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dennison, Matthew.

The last princess: the devoted life of Queen Victoria's youngest daughter/Matthew Dennison.—1st U.S. ed.

        p. cm.

First published in Great Britain by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2007.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-37698-7

ISBN-10: 0-312-37698-7

1. Beatrice, Princess, consort of Henry, Prince of Battenberg, 1857-1944. 2. Princesses—Great Britain—Biography. 3. Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901—Family. 4. Great Britain—History—Victoria, 1837-1901—Bibliography. I. Title.

DA559.B4 D46 2008


First published in Great Britain by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
a division of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd

First U.S. Edition: February 2008

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

To the much-loved memory of
Shelagh Robertson,
this book's first reader


 List of Illustrations
 Author's Note

 Family Trees

I. ‘It is a fine child’
2. ‘The most amusing baby we have had’
3. ‘Paroxysms of despair’
4. ‘The bright spot in this dead home’
5. ‘Beatrice is quite well’
6. ‘A nervous way of speaking and laughing’
7. ‘Auntie Beatrice sends you many loves’
8. ‘Youngest daughters have a duty to widowed mothers’
9. ‘The flower of the flock’

10. ‘A good, handy, thoughtful servant’

11. ‘She is my constant companion’

12. ‘Dear Beatrice suffered much from rheumatism’

13. ‘If only she could marry now’

14. The Handsomest Family in Europe

15. ‘Many daughters have acted virtuously, but thou excelleth them all’

16. ‘The fatal day approaches’

17. ‘There now burnt a bewitching fiery passion’

18. ‘Capital fun’

19. ‘A simple life, with no great incidents’

20. ‘Blighted happiness’

2I. ‘I have taken up my life again’

22. ‘I… can hardly realize what life will be like without her’

23. ‘I have my dear Mother's written instructions’

24. ‘Osborne… is like the grave of somebody's happiness’

25. ‘Please God the young couple may be very happy’

26. ‘Days of overwhelming anxiety’

27. ‘The older one gets the more one lives in the past’

28. ‘She struggled so hard to “carry on”’





Princess Beatrice in a burnous, by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1859. (Royal Collection)
Queen Victoria and her family at Osborne, photograph by Caldesi and Montecchi, 1857. (Bridgeman Art Library)
The crossed hands of Princess Beatrice, plaster sculpture by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm. (Victoria and Albert Museum)
Poster of Beatrice at various stages of her life, 1901. (Print Collector/HIP/Topfoto)
Queen Victoria and Beatrice, photograph by Ghemar Freres, c. 1862. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Bust of Albert surrounded by his daughters in mourning, photograph by William Bambridge, March 1862. (Royal Archives)
Beatrice as a teenager, photograph by W & D Downey, 1868. (National Portrait Gallery Picture Library, London)
The Marriage of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark in St George's Chapel, Windsor by William Powell Frith, 1863. (Royal Collection)
Portrait of Beatrice as a young woman. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
The Afternoon Drive, from
The Graphic,
11 November 1882. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Frontispiece from
A Birthday Book,
designed by Princess Beatrice, published by Smith, Elder & Co., London, 1881
Prince Henry of Battenberg, c. 1890. (Hulton Archive © Getty Images)
Beatrice, photograph by Valery, c. 1886. (Royal Archives)
Engravings of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice, from
The Graphic,
10 June 1885. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
The bride and groom surrounded by their attendants, 1885. (Royal Archives)
Osborne House on the wedding day, from the
Illustrated London News,
I August 1885. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)


Prince and Princess Henry with Alexander, 1886. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
The christening of Ena at Balmoral, from
The Graphic,
10 December 1887. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Beatrice with her children at Windsor, photograph by Mary Steen, from the
Illustrated London News,
25 January 1896. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Princes Alexander, Leopold and Maurice, photographed at Balmoral, c. 1896. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Leopold on a toy horse. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Beatrice and Maurice. (Private collection)
Beatrice with Maurice, Ena, Leopold and Alexander. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Maurice, Alexander and Leopold in uniform, c. 1914. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Princess Beatrice down a Coal Mine, from
The Graphic,
14 September 1889. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Tableau vivant
with the Princess as the Queen of Sheba, 1888. (The Royal Archives 2006)
Queen Victoria at Osborne with her family, 1898. (The Royal Archives 2006)
Princess Beatrice (Private Collection)
Princess Ena, King Alfonso of Spain, Queen Christina of Spain and Princess Beatrice, Biarritz, 1906. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Princess Beatrice with her Spanish grandchildren. (Illustrated London News Photo Library)
Princess Beatrice, by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, 1908. (National Portrait Gallery Picture Library, London)
Princess Beatrice, by Philip de Laszlo, 1927. (Private collection, reproduced courtesy of the de Laszlo estate)

Photographs credited to The Royal Collection and The Royal Archives are reproduced © H M Queen Elizabeth II 2007.


I gratefully acknowledge the permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to publish material from The Royal Archives, and thank Pamela Clark and Jill Kelsey for their assistance at Windsor Castle. I am grateful to Professor Dr Eckhart G Franz, Grand Ducal Archives, Darmstadt; Virginia Murray, John Murray Archives; Adrian Allen, University Archivist, University of Liverpool; and the staff of the following libraries, records offices and archives: University of Birmingham Library (Special Collections); The British Library; Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge; Glasgow University Archive Services; Leeds University Library (Special Collections); Lincolnshire Record Office; Nuffield College Library, Oxford; Rochdale Libraries; Staffordshire Record Office; Isle of Wight Record Office.

I am also grateful to Hannah Cumber, The Royal Institute of Public Health; Clare Fleck, Knebworth House; Neil Evans, The National Portrait Gallery, London; Frances Dunkels, The Royal Collection; Len Ley, Craigy-Nos Castle; Mitzi Mina, Sotheby's London; Peta Liddle, The Ravenswood; Luci Gosling, Illustrated London News Picture Library; and Brett Croft, Conde Nast Library; to Geoffrey Munn, Charlotte Zeepvat, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and especially to Hugo Vickers and Yvonne Ward. And, of course, to Albin Milkurti, who late at night retrieved the lost manuscript from a tube train heading north.

I am grateful to the following friends for kindness and hospitality during the research and writing of this book: Ivo and Pandora Curwen, Georgina Fletcher, Rosalind Gray and, especially, Jim and Fern Dickson.

I am grateful to my editor, Ion Trewin, and Anna Herve and Bea Hemming who helped him, and to my agent, Georgina Capel; to my wonderful parents, my parents-in-law, and, most of all to my beloved Grainne, who not only provided tireless support but, in tactful constructive criticism, made this a much better book.

I have a dear devoted child who has always been
a dear, unselfish companion to me'

Queen Victoria to Alfred Tennyson,
August 14, 1883


‘It is a fine child’

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