Birthday: April 14, 1857
Died At Age: 87
Sun Sign: Aries
Born in: Buckingham Palace, London, United Kingdom
Famous as: Youngest Child of Queen Victoria
Women Historical Personalities
Spouse/Ex-: Prince Henry of Battenberg (m. 1885; d. 1896)
father: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
mother: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
children: 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke Victoria Eugenie, Alexander Mountbatten, Prince Maurice of Battenberg, Queen of Spain Lord Leopold Mountbatten
Died on: October 26, 1944
place of death: Brantridge Park
City: London, England
Who was Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom?
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom was the youngest daughter of the British monarch Queen Victoria. She is remembered as the darling of her father, Prince Albert, and close confidante of her mother till her last days. After her father’s death, she declared that she would not get married and devote her life to assist her mother. However, there were many suitors and she finally married Prince Henry, who gave up his commitment in Germany and lived in the Buckingham palace with his family and the Queen. They had four children together. Beatrice was a carrier of haemophilia that affected her children and generations to come. Her husband died in the Anglo – Asante war but Beatrice remained loyal to her mother even after his death. She lived in the Kensington Palace and was made governor of the Isle of Wight after Prince Henry was no more. She was also President of the Frank James Memorial Hospital and took up various social causes, like the poor living conditions of miners. After the death of Queen Victoria, her importance diminished as her ideas did not coincide with her brother, King Edward VII. She spent her last days in Brantridge Park, West Sussex, where she finished compiling her mother’s journals that are preserved till today.
Childhood & Early Life
Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore was born on 14 April 1857 in the Buckingham Palace, London. She is the youngest offspring of the British monarch Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. Her birth caused a controversy because the Queen chose to use chloroform to reduce her labour pains that was against the teachings of the church at that time. She has four brothers and four sisters.
She was baptised on 16 Jun 1857 in the chapel of Buckingham Palace. Her full name was derived from the names of Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester; Feodora, Princess of Hohenloho-Langenburg and Queen Victoria. Prince Frederick of Prussia, Duchess of Kent and Princess Royal were designated as her godparents.
She was the favourite child of her parents and the subject for many paintings initiated by Queen Victoria because of her large blue eyes and long golden hair. She was a precocious and intelligent child that made her the darling of her father. She was privately taught English, French and German. She was also coached to improve her handwriting and given lessons in history.
She was exceptionally close to her mother and was instrumental in comforting her when the Queen’s mother, Duchess of Kent and her husband, Prince Albert, died in quick succession in 1861. For the next ten years she continued to spend most of her time with her mother and after the last of her sisters were married in 1871, she declared that she did not want to get married and leave her mother alone.
Nonetheless, there were many suitors for Princess Beatrice’s hand. The son of the exiled Emperor of France, Napoleon Eugene, proposed to marry her but was killed in the Anglo-Zulu War on 1879. It was even suggested that she should marry Louis IV, the widower of her sister as it would facilitate her to look after the children of her sister as well as her mother. However, this was against the law at that time.
In the mean time Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. It took some time for the Queen to accept the fact that her last daughter wanted to get married. She finally agreed to the wedding on the condition that Prince Henry would forgo his commitments in Germany and live with the Queen and Beatrice in Buckingham palace.
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Even after her marriage, Beatrice and her husband kept to their promise of remaining a confidante and secretary to the Queen. Though her husband left the palace for military campaigns, Beatrice remained by her mother’s side.
She took an initiative to address social issues such as the poor condition of coal miners and developed a keen interest on photography to keep herself occupied.
Even after the death of her husband she remained a confidante of her mother. She was given the Kensington Palace to live in and made governor of the Isle of Wight after Prince Henry was no more. She was also President of the Frank James Memorial Hospital in East Cowes.
After the death of Queen Victoria on 22 January 1901, her position in the court was diminished as she was not very close to her brother, King Edward VII who succeeded the Queen. She opposed his moves of disposing personal artefacts of her mother and opening parts of the palace to the public and establishing a Naval College on its grounds.
However, King Edward VII went on with implementing his plans. Beatrice continued to make public appearances in connection with her mother, with whose name she remained associated.
During the First World War she became the patron of the Ypres League that looked into the requirements of veterans of the Ypres Salient and their bereaved families. She herself had lost her son in the first battle of Ypres.
After the death of Queen Victoria she edited the journals of her mother that consisted of her views on public issues and details of the family. The task took her 30 years to compile in 111 notebooks that have been preserved in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle.
In 1941, she published her translation of the personal diary of Queen Victoria’s maternal grandmother, Augusta, Duchess of Saxe – Coburg –Saalfeld, which was titled ‘In Napoleonic Days’.
She also collected material of historical value and opened the Carisbrooke Castle museum to the public in 1898.
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Awards & Achievements
She was conferred with the title ‘Her Royal Highness The Princess Beatrice’, Royal Order of Victoria and Albert – 1874, Order of the Crown of India – 1874, Grand Duchy of Hesse Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Golden Lion – 1881, Royal Red Cross – 1885, Royal Family Order of King Edward VII (2nd class) – 1904, Royal Family Order of King George V (2nd class) - 1911, Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire – 1919, Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St John – 1926, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order – 1937, and 886th Dame of the Spanish Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa and Order of St Catherine (Russia).
She was granted the use of her personal royal court of arms in 1858.
Personal Life & Legacy
Beatrice married Prince Henry at the Saint Mildred’s Church in Whippingham on 23 July 1885. She was attended by ten royal bridesmaids and escorted by her eldest brother, the Prince of Wales, in the absence of her father. The couple left for the Quarr Abbey House in southern England for their honeymoon.
During her first pregnancy her mother got annoyed with her for having meals privately in her room. The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage but she later went on to have four children. They were named Alexander, Ena, Leopold and Maurice. Unfortunately she was a carrier of haemophilia that affected her children. Her preoccupation with her mother also had negative fallout on her children, who felt neglected and became rebellious.
Prince Henry was made the Governor of the Isle of Wright in 1889. However, her husband longed for military action and finally succeeded in convincing the Queen to allow him to participate in the Anglo – Asante war. He got malaria during the campaign and died on 22 January 1896, while returning home.
Her daughter Ena married King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The wedding raised a controversy as her daughter had to convert to follow the Roman Catholic Church. To make matters worse, their son suffered from haemophilia and Beatrice was held responsible for bringing the disease into the Spanish royal family. Her younger son, Leopold, also suffered from haemophilia and died during a knee surgery when he was 33 years old.
Her favourite son, Maurice died in the First World War that was a major blow to Beatrice in her old age. Her presence in the court reduced and she renounced her German titles and adopted the surname, Mountbatten.
In her last days she suffered from arthritis and had to use a wheelchair. She moved to Brantridge Park in West Sussex where she passed away on 16 October 1944 at the age of eighty seven. Her last wish to be buried with her husband in the Saint Mildred’s Church, Whippingham was fulfilled in a private ceremony attended by her only surviving son and his wife.
She was an aunt to her eldest sister’s children at the age of three.
Beatrice was very shy but turned out to be a good actress and dancer. She was also an accomplished artist and photographer. She was fond of music and played the piano.
She was the patron of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute of Isle of Wight from 1920 till she died.
She was a devoted Christian and took keen interest in theology.