On a spring day, April 14th 1857 the last of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s children was born. The little princess’s baptism took place in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on the 16th June 1857, she wore the same baptism gown that was worn by her elder sister, the Princess Royal and would be worn by future generations of royal babies. Her Godparents were her Maternal Grandmother the Duchess of Kent, her older sister Victoria, Princess Royal and her future brother in law Frederick, Prince of Prussia.
Princess Beatrice grew into an intellectual young child, which Prince Albert found very favourable in his youngest child – the princess also had a very fine singing voice. Queen Victoria, who is said not to have liked babies, found her little daughter a “pretty, plumb, flourishing child with big blue eyes”.
At the age of four, Princess Beatrice’s grandmother the Duchess of Kent died at Frogmore. The little princess played a huge part in helping the Queen with her grief – the only children that Queen Victoria would entertain at this time were her eldest the Princess Royal and youngest Princess Beatrice. The Queen would again call on her young daughter later on in the same year when her beloved husband, Prince Albert died of typhoid fever on December 14th.
Queen Victoria started to rely solely on Princess Beatrice after all her children were married. The young princess was overheard saying “I don’t like weddings, I shall never marry…. I shall stay with mother”. Later on Princess Beatrice became her mother’s private secretary although she had many suitors which included the French Prince Imperial. Eventually, Princess Beatrice met and fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg at the wedding of her niece Princess Victoria.
Princess Beatrice returned to England with the news that she wished to marry. The Queen was not impressed to say the least, so much so, it is said that the pair did not talk for several months. Queen Victoria finally give her permission for the marriage, but her consent came with conditions. The main condition was that the couple would live with the Queen, look after her and be her companions until her death, which they agreed to.
Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore married Prince Henry of Battenberg on the 23rd July 1885 at St Mildred’s Church on the Isle of Wight. The bride wore the same veil that her mother wore at her marriage to her dear Albert. Beatrice was given away by her elder brother the Prince of Wales and she had ten bridesmaids attending her. Prince Henry had two attendants, these were Prince Alexander of Bulgaria and Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg both brothers of the groom. Their honeymoon was a short one by royal standards and the location was only a few miles away from Queen Victoria’s Isle of Wight home, Osborne House.
During the first years of their marriage, Prince Henry tried to be included in any military campaign that he could. This was not something that Queen Victoria or his wife Beatrice agreed with and the pair even went so far as sending a warship to bring him home from Corsica.
The couple had an upsetting start to parenthood when Beatrice suffered a miscarriage within the first few months of their marriage. But they went on to have four children Alexander in 1886, Ena in 1887, Leopold in 1889 and finally Maurice in 1891.
Prince Henry became very restless with his occupation at home and pleaded with the Queen to let him join the campaign in the Anglo-Asante War. The Queen agreed to this and he left on the 6th December 1895, little knowing this would be the last time he would see his wife. Whilst away Prince Henry contracted malaria and died before he reaching his wife who was waiting for his return home.
Princess Beatrice, although in mourning, kept her promise and stayed with her mother. Queen Victoria did come to realise that Beatrice needed her own home and gave her an apartment in Kensington Palace. The Queen also had a dark room installed at her home on the Isle of Wight as photography was a hobby of Beatrice’s.
After the death of her husband and of her mother in 1901 Princess Beatrice continued to appear in public, mainly at events linked to her mother. She lived at Osborne Cottage in her capacity as governor of the Island, a position that Queen Victoria awarded her after the death of her husband, Prince Henry. Towards the later part of her life Princess Beatrice sold her home on the Isle of Wight and moved to Carisbrooke Castle as well as keeping her apartments in Kensington Palace.
During World War One Beatrice’s son Maurice died in 1914 and in 1917 King George V changed the family name so Beatrice’s name went from HRH Princess Henry of Battenberg to HRH Princess Beatrice and her surname was changed to Mountbatten.
One of the last public appearances made by Princess Beatrice was in her wheelchair to see the wreaths laid for King George V after his death in 1936. HRH Princess Beatrice died in her sleep on the 26th October 1944 at the age of eighty seven, the day before the 30th Anniversary of her son Prince Maurice’s death. Her funeral was held at St George’s chapel Windsor and she was interred in the Royal vault. On the 28th August 1945 her body was moved to be at the side of her husband’s at St Mildred’s Church on the Isle of Wight.
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