Queen Maud of Norway died on this day in 1938. She was born at Marlborough House, London, on 26 November 1869, the fifth child and youngest daughter of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (who would later succeed his mother as Edward VII) and Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
She was christened Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria at Marlborough House in London on 24 December 1869 by John Jackson, Bishop of London.
Maud was described as a “tomboyish”, high-spirited child who enjoyed riding and sports and had a keen interest in dogs. She was known as “Harry” to the Royal Family after Crimean War Hero Admiral Henry Keppel, a friend of Edward VII’s (and the great-great-great-grand uncle of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall).
In 1885, Princess Maud was a bridesmaid, alongside her sisters the Princesses Louise and Victoria, at the wedding of her paternal aunt, Princess Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg. The three sisters reprised these roles at the wedding of their brother, the future King George V to Mary of Teck in 1893.
Maud had originally wanted to marry Francis of Teck, the impoverished, gambling-addicted brother of her sister-in-law, Mary, however Francis ignored her advances. This led to Maud marrying relatively late at the age of 26 years old to her maternal first cousin, Prince Carl of Denmark. The pair were joined in Holy Matrimony on the 22 July 1896 in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace, in the presence of the bride’s grandmother, Queen Victoria.
For his “favourite child”, Edward VII gifted Maud Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate as a country house for her frequent visits to England, the country for which Maud never lost her love. It was here at Appleton House on 02 July 1903 that the couple’s only child was born, Prince Alexander Edward Christian Frederik of Denmark (the future King Olav V of Norway).
In June 1905, the Storting (Norway’s parliament) dissolved the country’s 91-year-old union with Sweden, offering Prince Carl the new throne in the process. Following a plebiscite in November, Carl accepted the throne, thus thrusting his wife into the role of Queen of the newly independent Norway, the first Queen since 1380 who was not also Queen of Denmark and Sweden. Choosing the regnal name of “Haakon VII”, Carl and Maud were crowned at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 22 June 1906, the last coronation in Scandinavia.
Maud quickly adapted to her new country, throwing herself into the role of Queen Consort with fervour, using clothes and jewelry to make a regal impression. She was a philanthropist, supporting such causes as Dronningens Hjelpekomité (the Queen’s Relief Committee) during World War I as well as supporting Katti Anker Møller’s home for unwed mothers in 1906, an association that was considered radical at the time. Although less examined, Maud’s influence over politics and her husband are believed to have been influential.
Maud (although regarding the United Kingdom as her true home, even after moving to Norway) enjoyed aspects of Norwegian culture, such as Winter sports and also supported the raising of her only child as a Norwegian. She learned to ski and created an English garden overlooking Oslo at the nation’s Royal lodge, Kongsseteren. Although she made an effort to learn the language, she found it difficult and never became fluent.
Maud acquired a reputation for dressing fashionably chic, with an exhibition being held in 2005 at the Victoria and Albert Museum featuring numerous items of her elegant wardrobe. The Queen was famous for her 18″ waist and was proud of it throughout her long life. Maud always wore ankle-length skirts, even when playing sports.
Maud made her last public appearance in her beloved homeland at the coronation of her nephew, King George VI at Westminster Abbey on 12 May 1937.
During a brief visit to the United Kingdom in October 1938, Maud fell ill and underwent abdominal surgery on 16 November 1938. Although the surgery appeared to be a success and after King Haakon joined his wife, Maud unexpectedly died at Appleton House from heart failure on 20 November 1938. She was the last surviving child of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and was survived by her only child and husband. Her body was returned to Norway on HMS Royal Oak before being buried at the royal mausoleum at Akershus Castle in Oslo.