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History

A Victorian Family Tree: the story of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters

‘As a rule, I like girls more’. The opinions of Queen Victoria on babies were quite clear. She might have had a long line of male heirs waiting to inherit her throne but her devotion to her granddaughters was telling. The women of the second generation of her descendants were of prime importance to the great Queen Empress.

To the rest of the world she was a severe looking woman who ruled an Empire on which ‘the sun never set’. To them, she was grandmamma. To her, they were an endless source of fascination, love and worry. Her deep involvement in all their lives went far further than her increasing insistence that they all have Victoria, Alberta or even both somewhere in their names. She was concerned about every aspect of their upbringing and their futures. Victoria was devoted granny.

She had a say in many aspects of their lives and not just because she was the most powerful woman in Europe at the time. She had intense relationships with all her children and that meant she was a major part of their own children’s lives when the time came for them to present Victoria with another baby bearing her name. As the sun begins to set on Victoria’s time as Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Royal Central is looking at one part of her legacy – the granddaughters who took forward her ideas into a brave new world.

They were among the last witnesses of a world that had such an impact on the changing face of modern Britain and the last contact with a woman whose name now belongs to a whole era of our country’s history and who is as famous now as she was then.

Over the next six weeks you will meet women who went by the title of empress, queen, princess and have even been called saint. Their lives span intense joy and intense sadness. Some died in their own beds after long and happy lives. Some were murdered. All left their mark on history.

And not just because of who their granny decided they should marry. These girls were more than marriage tools. Many of them married well and several of them married disastrously. Others didn’t marry at all. At first glance they may appear prim Victorians in their high necked gowns and long skirts and wearing serious expressions so the camera could catch them. But in reality, they led varied and exciting lives which outdid much of the fiction of the day.

In two months time, Victoria’s place in history will have altered slightly. She will no longer be the little woman who dominates with the longest reign on record. She will be second on that list but her claim to fame will have passed to another woman who in some ways has built a reign and reputation on the foundations of what Victoria left behind. The great Queen Empress has many legacies but her female descendants are perhaps amongst the most interesting and impressive. Settle down to six weeks of their amazing stories.  It’s time to look again at the girls who inherited the mantle of Victoria – her granddaughters.

The series starts tomorrow, July 24th 2015, here on Royal Central.

 

Featured image credit: “Queen Victoria 1887” by Alexander Bassanohttp://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/2105818/portrait-photograph-of-queen-victoria-1819-1901-dressed-for-the-wedding-of-the. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.