Charles II was famous for his illegitimate children, and there have been many monarchs and their families that have had secrets they wanted to keep hidden. Now it has been suggested that one of Queen Victoria’s daughters, Princess Louise, could have been one of them.
Art historian and biographer, Lucinda Hawksley, has claimed that Princess Louise, 4th daughter of Victoria and Albert, had a secret child with household staff member, Walter Stirling in the late 1860s.
Louise was born in 1848, the sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She has been revelled in the history world as the rebellious daughter, with a string of unruly behaviours such as falling in love at the age of 18 with a family tutor, the Reverend Robinson Duckworth; this was around 1866, and Duckworth was swiftly dismissed. A talented artist and sculptor, Louise supposedly had a lover later in life who was also a sculptor, named Joseph Boehm and it is reported that he died as they made love.
Victoria saw her daughter, also her unofficial secretary, becoming a restless spirit, bored of court and the mourning of her father, Albert, so set about finding her a husband. Not approving of the matches found for her amongst the aristocracy, Louise fell in love with John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne. Victoria agreed to the match, wanting to inject new, non-royal blood into the family, and so Louisa, as she was christened, became the Marchioness of Lorne in 1871 and later, the Duchess of Argyll.
Hawksley states that in 1867/1868, a baby boy called Henry was born. The baby, she goes onto claim, was that of the 20 year-old, and unmarried, Princess Louise. The alleged father, Walter Stirling, was Prince Leopold’s tutor. Leopold was Louise’s younger brother, and Albert and Victoria’s 8th child of 10. No birth certificate was made and the boy was quickly adopted by Victoria’s gynaecologist, Sir Frederick Locock, in what appear to be mysterious circumstances.
Unsubstantiated claims of extra-marital affairs were made by the press throughout Louise’s life, as she was often, and is still to this day, considered the most beautiful of Victoria’s daughters.
Stirling was dismissed after 4 months, but managed to get an allowance, and reconfirmed his discretion to the Family. This, Hawksley claims, shows something was amiss with his position in the household, but that still needed to be kept on side.
Unlike the fabrications during her life, Hawksley says the evidence is convincing. No link has been proven, since the historian has been denied access to the records which would confirm this; the Locock family have been trying to get a DNA test from Henry’s coffin since 2004. Photos of baby Henry apparently show remarkable resemblance to the Royal Family, as well as those of his descendants.
Until DNA tests are taken and confirmed, no definitive answer can be given as to whether Princess Louise conducted a pre-marital affair resulting in a child, but it would certainly give more relatives to the already large extended family of the Windsor’s!