Victoria made her favourite daughter live with her post-marriage

Queen Victoria was ‘open-minded’ on marriage says expert

Much has been made of Queen Victoria’s reputation as a mother, with some depictions painting the monarch as a disengaged and resentful parent — others emphasise her more protective nature. Victoria and her husband Albert, Prince Consort, had nine children together, all with whom the Queen shared different relationships. The last of the couple’s children was Princess Beatrice, known affectionately as ‘Baby’. Although Victoria and Albert indulged Beatrice more than her siblings, her role as the youngest child caused friction between mother and daughter later in life — with the Princess’s deviation from her ‘destiny’ provoking a frosty reaction from Victoria.

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Born on April 14, 1857, Beatrice grew up in the aftermath of Prince Albert’s early death, which left Victoria grief-stricken and resulted in a largely sad and solitary childhood.

Her nearest sibling in age was Prince Leopold, whose ill health meant his younger sister was often left without playmates.

Beatrice was as a result quiet and reserved. She soon began to fulfil her role as her mother’s companion and helper, becoming Victoria’s sole focus following the death of her beloved Consort in 1861.

The Queen doted on Beatrice, who has often been referred to as her mother’s favourite, but also demanded all of her time and attention.

“Mine is a nature which requires being loved,” Victoria reportedly told one of her sons-in-law. “I have lost almost all those who loved me most.”

As a result, marriage for Beatrice seemed unlikely. In fact, by the time the Princess had come of age, the Queen dreaded the idea of her daughter leaving her so much that she forbade the mention of weddings in Beatrice’s presence. The young princess, therefore, became increasingly withdrawn and isolated.

As the youngest daughter, she was expected to uphold the customs of the time: give up any hope of marriage to spend her life as a caregiver and companion for her parent.

So, when a 27-year-old Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg, Victoria was both shocked and dismayed.

The Queen reacted frostily to the prospect of her youngest daughter marrying and was determined to keep Beatrice by her side. When the Princess unofficially announced her intention to marry Henry, whom she had met at a wedding in Germany, Victoria reacted with frightening silence.

Although Beatrice remained her mother’s companion, the Queen refused to speak to her for months, choosing only to communicate via note.

Victoria did not speak to her daughter from May 1884, when the engagement was announced, to November of that year.

“What agonies, what despair, horror and dislike of the most violent kind,” she wrote in her journal, “for the idea of my precious Baby’s marrying at all.”

However, when it became clear Beatrice could not be dissuaded, the Queen reluctantly gave her blessing on the marriage — with one condition.

Victoria stipulated that Henry would come and live at her residence, meaning Beatrice would stay at her side.

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Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry married at St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham, on the Isle of Wight, on July 23, 1885.

As promised, the couple made their home with Victoria at Osborne House, also on the island.

In 1890, a private suite was created for them at the royal residence. By that point, the couple had three children, and in 1891 welcomed their fourth and final child.

Beatrice maintained her role as her mother’s companion, and Victoria made Henry Governor of the Isle of Wight.

However, over the years, Henry grew restless at Osborne. Having once led a career in the Prussian Army, he longed for his return to the military. On one occasion, he slipped away on a trip to Corsica, leading the Queen to send a warship to bring him back.

Then, in late 1895, he persuaded Victoria to allow him to travel to West Africa to fight in the Ashanti War. Tragically, he caught malaria while there and died in January 1896 on the return journey.

Following Henry’s death, Beatrice further devoted herself to her mother, spending the remaining years of Victoria’s life as her unofficial secretary.

In her journal, the Queen recalled going “over to Beatrice’s room and sat a while with her. She is so piteous in her misery”.

Beatrice succeeded her husband as Governor of the Isle of Wight, living first at Osborne with her mother and later making Carisbrooke Castle her home.

For 25 years, until 1938, Beatrice’s personal standard flew over Carisbrooke Castle when she was in residence. She died at the age of 87 at her last home, Brantridge Park, Sussex, in 1944, and was buried beside her husband at Whippingham.

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