|Queen Victoria saw no need for Princess Beatrice to marry, and every need for her to share her eternal mourning as her permanent companion and secretary. 'I may truly and honestly say', Victoria wrote to her eldest daughter, 'I never saw so amiable, gentle, and thoroughly contented child as she is. She has the sweetest temper imaginable and is very useful and handy. She is my constant companion and hope and trust will never leave me while I live'. The Queen would not even allow the subject of marriage to be mentioned in Beatrice's presence, once reprimanding Henry Ponsonby for mentioning someone else's marriage at dinner.
When Beatrice accompanied her mother to Hesse-Darmstadt for the marriage of her niece, she became secretly engaged to the groom's youngest brother, the semi-impoverished Prince Henry Maurice of Battenberg (1858-1895) known as 'Liko'. After eight months of quarrelling, Queen Victoria at last agreed to the marriage, due largely to the intervention of her eldest son, Bertie, and her son-in-law, Louis of Hesse. The only condition the Queen imposed was that the couple would live with her for the rest of her life, later commenting 'I agree with the Mohammedans that duty towards one's parents goes before every other'.
Even though her daughter was to remain at home, Victoria dreaded the approaching wedding day, when she would have to give her 'own sweet, unspoilt innocent lily and child' into the hands of another. She hoped and prayed there would be 'no results' for some time.
The couple were married in July 1885 at Whippingham Church on the Isle of Wight - the first time a royal bride had been married in a parish church - and allowed a honeymoon of two days at a villa nearby on the island. Princess Beatrice was shy and rather plump, Prince Henry was athletic, handsome and charming. They had four children, including Ena, who married Alfonso XIII of Spain. Victoria grew fond of her son-in-law, writing that he was 'so full of consideration' for her, and like 'a bright sunbeam' in the house.
'Liko' died of malaria in 1895 off the coast of Sierra Leone while returning from the Ashanti expedition, and Beatrice resumed her former filial duties. After her mother's death in 1901, and in fulfilment of a charge laid on her by Victoria, Princess Beatrice transcribed and edited the late Queen's diaries, censoring all potentially embarrassing passages. This process of transcription and destruction was spread over a great number of years, and greatly distressed King George V and Queen Mary, but they were powerless to intervene, since no one could dispute Queen Victoria's right to leave whatever directions she chose concerning the disposal of her private papers.
Suffering from rheumatism, Princess Beatrice lived on alone, first at Kensington Palace and then at Brantridge Park in Sussex. She died in 1944 at the age of 87, the last surviving child of Queen Victoria.
Photographed by Arthur J. Melhuish of 12, York Place, Portman Place, London.
A wetstamp on the reverse of the mount identifies the stockist where the cabinet card was originally purchased, Clark’s Library and Photographic Gallery in Harrowgate.
condition: The print shows a very small amount of spotting but has excellent tonal range.
|Back to list...