Who was Maud of Wales?
Maud of Wales was the Queen of Norway from 1905 to 1938. She was the wife of King Haakon VII. Maud was the third daughter of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alexandra. She was quite tomboyish during her childhood, which her grandmother, Queen Victoria, did not appreciate. Considering the era she lived in, she got married relatively late, at the age of 26. She married Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway), who was her first cousin. Prince Carl was an officer in the Danish navy, but following a plebiscite of the Norwegian parliament in November 1905, he agreed to become king of Norway and was coronated on June 22, 1906. After the coronation, Maud quickly adapted to Norwegian ways and also took great care to fulfil her duties as a queen consort. She continued visiting Great Britain as it was close to her heart and interestingly, she breathed her last in Great Britain!
Childhood & Early Life
Maud was born on November 26, 1869 at Marlborough House mansion in St James's, Westminster, London, to Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alexandra, Princess of Wales. Maud was christened 'Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria,' on December 24, 1869.
She was not even two when her family mourned the loss of her younger brother Prince Alexander, who was born prematurely on April 6, 1871, and died just a day later. Many years later, she named her only son Alexander! He later became king Olav V of Norway.
She spent most of her childhood at Sandringham House. It became an inseparable part of her life; her father Edward VII, gave her Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate as a country residence for her future visits to England. Interestingly, Maud kept coming back to Sandringham all through her life.
Her father had left the responsibility of bringing-up the children to his wife, Alexandra. Maud, along with her other siblings, was raised in a protective environment. She was full of energy and tomboyish. She was nicknamed ‘Harry,’ after one of the friends of her father, Edward VII.
She studied under private tutors. She was also taught dance and horse riding, in addition to the traditional subjects.
From her early childhood, Maud loved animals, especially horses and dogs. She rode around her Sandringham estate with full control. Later, as Queen of Norway, she got the royal palace stables in Oslo upgraded under her supervision.
During her childhood, Maud, along with her mother and siblings, used to visit Denmark every year. Later, she would accompany her sisters and mother on cruises to the Mediterranean and Norway.
During her annual Denmark visit, she, along with her siblings, used to play with her cousins and in the process formed a strong bond.
Maud possessed creative skills – she painted, she was good in wood carving, and also played the piano. Her mother encouraged her to pursue photography, which she followed throughout her life.
On August 6, 1887, Maud’s grandmother, Queen Victoria, gave Maud and her sisters, Victoria and Louise, the ‘Imperial Order of the Crown of India.’
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She Found Her Love in Denmark - Princess of Denmark
Maud waited until her late twenties to find a suitable partner. She was first interested in marrying a distant cousin, Prince Francis of Teck, but he did not show any interest.
It was during her annual holidays in Denmark that she met her future husband Prince Carl of Denmark. Carl was the second son of her mother's eldest brother, Crown Prince Frederick. They eventually got married on July 22, 1896. At the time of her marriage, she was 26, while Carl was 24.
Her father, Edward VII, presented Maud the Sandringham house, her childhood home. Her son, Prince Alexander, was later born in Sandringham, on July 2, 1903.
In June 1905, the parliament of Norway decided to break its union with Sweden and offered the throne of Norway to Carl. He accepted the throne and was crowned as King Haakon VII. He, along with his wife, Maud, was crowned on June 22, 1906. She now became Queen Maud of Norway.
Queen of Norway
Maud quickly adapted to Norwegian ways and customs, and thoroughly carried her duties as a queen. She played an important role in the matters of administration and family, but kept a low profile in public.
She, along with her husband, posed in Norwegian costumes, and enjoyed skiing, a popular winter sport. She performed her role and duties as a queen with great care and sported such jewellery and clothes that gave a royal impression.
She was a benevolent queen and supported several charitable causes. In 1906, she gave her support to the home for unwed mothers, which could not be thought of in that era; she also supported the ‘Children’s Exhibition’ in 1921.
Being a creative person herself, she also supported artists and musicians, and provided encouragement.
During the First World War, she set up ‘the Queen's Relief Committee.
Her love for horses is well known; she was an avid horse rider and supervised the upgradation of the royal palace stables in Oslo.
Even after becoming Queen of Norway, her love for Great Britain never diminished, and she continued visiting Great Britain every year. She, however, respected and admired several aspects of Norway as well.
During her visits to Great Britain, she mostly stayed at her childhood home - Appleton House, Sandringham.
She made her last public appearance in Great Britain in May 1937, at the coronation George VI, her nephew.
Family, Personal Life & Death
Maud's and Prince Carl's only child, Prince Alexander, was born on July 2, 1903, in Sandringham. She loved Great Britain, but decided to raise her son as a Norwegian. Prince Alexander later became king of Norway as Olav V.
Queen Maud was on a visit to England in October 1938. As usual, she stayed at her Sandringham house, but later moved to a hotel in London. She became ill and an abdominal operation had to be performed on November 16, 1938. Her husband, king Haakon, lost no time and travelled to England to be with her. She died of a heart failure on November 20, 1938. Her body was later transported to Norway for the last rites. She was laid to rest in the royal mausoleum at Akershus Castle in Oslo.
She appeared as a reserved person in public but she is said to be quite energetic as an individual and also cracked jokes as a private person.
Maud is said to have had a great sense of fashion and style. An exhibition of her wardrobe was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2005.