Wednesday, July 04, 2007


She was the baby of the family and her story is one of my favorites. This is a picture of Princess Beatrice on her wedding day, wearing her mother's wedding veil. Her mother, of course, was Queen Victoria. Beatrice was the only daughter---and there were many---to be given the privilege of wearing Victoria's own veil of honitan lace. (I'm doing this from I hope I have that right, about the name of the lace!)

It might seem at times that whenever you read about the royals, Queen Victoria's name pops up somehow. That's because Victoria really was considered the "grandmama of Europe." That's because her relatives---and then her children and grandchildren went on to assume many of the thrones of Europe.

But back to Beatrice...the baby. As much as Victoria moaned about being pregnant and loathed it---in the end, the pregnancy and birth of baby Beatrice was to begin one of the fulfilling relationships of her life. It all began on a chilly night in December, 1861. It was the night that young Beatrice's father died in the Blue Room at Windsor. But this just wasn't any father...this was Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's adored--and I mean adored--husband. The night he died, the agonized and grief stricken Queen, picked up her youngest child and carried Beatrice to her own bed, laying with her throughout the night, holding Albert's nightclothes and clutching their youngest child. There was something special about some ways she was the nearest link to Albert. Beatrice comforted her. (I can write about the night Albert died in another post, but I warn you in advance, you may need some kleenex.)

The baby had been a happy and carefree child, full of enthusiasms--but, as Victoria's world crumbled on that terrible night, so would Beatrice's personality. Never again would relatives see the confident, bubbly personality of the old Beatrice. After that night it was buried away forever, and she became guarded. I'm sure it was partly shock--seeing her distraught mother and family--but it was also partly in response to the years of mourning that went on in the daily life of Victoria's court...crying, hushed voices, tension, melancholy, melodrama.

Each elder daughter took her turn in looking after her mother. They acted as liaisons, secretaries and precious shields, keeping away the world. Eventually, Beatrice rightfully assumed her turn. Because Beatrice was the baby, there was no question that she would stay in this needed position. Whilst her other sisters married, marriage for Beatrice could not be a consideration. Quite frankly, Queen Victoria simply couldn't do without her. And that was that.

Beatrice lived a quiet life, in rooms near her mother. She was at the Queen's side from morning till night, reading her letters, taking dictation and notes, keeping callers at bay and keeping her dear mother company. Beatrice was very good at it too. She naturally deferred to her mother's authority and her life was filled with all of the things that a loving companion would naturally do. She was protective, caring and genuinely adored her mother and enjoyed being with her, for the most part. She accompanied her from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, then to Osborne House and we can't forget Balmoral Castle in Scotland. For the most part they traveled to and from the latter three homes as Victoria was much too nervous to spend too much time in London.

But there always comes a time, when...well, things change. And things changed in a big way for Beatrice. In her late twenties and already a confirmed spinster, she met Henry of Battenberg at a large family event in Darmstadt. She fell in love instantly with the very handsome Battenberg...all the Battenberg brothers were known to be very handsome. And that was that. She could be as stubborn as her mother when it came right down to it. Well, she was her mother's daughter, wasn't she?
She was absolutely determined to marry the man of her dreams and I must say---Queen Victoria was even more determined that things would stay just the same. There would be no marriage, the Queen decreed. She simply couldn't do without her---she would not survive it.
But, as you saw above, the Princess was in her wedding dress and so, did it happen and if so, how the heck did Beatrice pull it off? When I tell you, you won't believe it.
But I'm getting tired now. We'll leave that story for another day.


Anita Davison said...


Just for your records, it's Honiton lace, after the town in Devon where it was made. Honiton was a textile town in the days when Devon sheep and wool were famous. Lace has been made there for 400. URL below for the Lace making Museum site years.

Anita Davison said...

Just for your records, it's Honiton Lace, after the town in Devon where it has been made for over 400 years.

Anita Davison said...

Hello Susan

Just for your records, it's Honiton lace after Honiton in Devon where it has been made for 400 years