Queen Victoria's Children


Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, first royal childBirth of Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa

THE first of the royal babies to put in an appearance was Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, the Princess Royal of England, now also Crown Princess of Germany, who was born at Buckingham Palace, on November 21st, Two days after the event, Mr. Selwyn came as usual to the Palace to read law with Prince Albert ; 'but the Prince said, "I fear I cannot read any law to-day, there are so many coming to congratulate, but you will like to see the little Princess." He conducted Mr. Selwyn to the nursery, where the child was sleeping. Then taking the baby's hand, the Prince said, " The next time we read, it must be on the rights and duties of a Princess Royal."

Prince Albert Falls Through Ice

The christening took place on February l0th, 1841. On the day previous Prince Albert was skating on the lake in Buckingham Palace Gardens when he suddenly went through the ice into deep water. The Queen came to the edge of the ice and rendered such efficient aid that the Prince scrambled out, whilst the lady-in-waiting was " more occupied in screaming for help." A bad cold was the worst result of this dangerous accident that might so easily have had a fatal termination.

The Christening

The christening was performed, with all due ceremony, by two archbishops, two bishops, and a dean, in the presence of many noble personages. The new silver-gilt font was in the shape of a water lily supporting a shell ; the water used on the occasion had been brought from the Jordan. In a letter to his grandmother, at Gotha, Prince Albert says : " The christening went off very well ; your little great granddaughter behaved with great propriety, and like a Christian. She was awake, but did not cry at all, and seemed to crow with immense satisfaction at the lights and brilliant uniforms, for she is very intelligent and observing. The ceremony took place at half-past six p.m. After it there was a dinner, and then we had some instrumental music."

Birth of Albert Edward

The Prince of Wales came to share the nursery with his sister on November 9th, 1841. The Lord -
Mayor's Show was setting out from Guildhall when the booming of the Tower guns announced the
new arrival. The christening took place on January 25th, 1842. It was a time of trouble and unsettlement. From abroad the news had come of English soldiers perishing by thousands in the rugged defiles of Afghanistan ; at home there was great distress, vast numbers of workmen were only on half-time or out of work altogether, pauperism and crime had increased to an enormous extent. Mainly in consequence of the wicked bread tax, fearful evils had developed, which could only be remedied by the advent of Free Trade, which came five years later.

Some of the newspapers took to printing statements respecting the Court festivities and the Queen's ball dresses, side by side with accounts of deaths from starvation and similar horrors. Sir Robert Peel, who was now Prime Minister, advised a general limitation of costly display under existing circumstances, and the Queen, with characteristic good sense and good feeling, cordially endorsed her Minister's admonition. All the ladies present at the Royal christening wore only Paisley shawls, English lace, and other home manufactured goods ; and all through the season of 1842 a general soberness was manifest.

Still, the christening of the Prince of Wales was celebrated with due splendour in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. The child (as everyone knows) was christened Albert Edward, and the Times says he "behaved with princely decorum."

Queen's Plantagenet Ball

During the summer of 1842, in spite of general anxiety, dinners, concerts, and balls were fully encouraged for the promotion of trade. One famous ball has never been forgotten by those who took part in it. This was the " Queen's Plantagenet Ball," when,- for one evening, Buckingham Palace wore the aspect of the Court of Edward III. and Queen Philippa. In the preparations for this ball, it was said that eighteen thousand persons were more or less employed.

Her Majesty, as Queen Philippa, wore a dress entirely made in Spitalfields. Prince Albert represented Edward III. It is not needful to enumerate the characters personated by the crowd of nobles who were present, but the whole affair was acknowledged to be the most splendid fete of the reign.

The Queen received visits from eminent persons at various times in a quiet way. Mendelssohn, the great composer, was twice at the Palace this summer. The Queen and Prince were delighted with his performances ; and Mendelssohn was also delighted to hear them play and sing, and astonished at their proficiency.

Missy and Albert

Royal Children of Queen Victoria

As this chapter is mainly about these first royal babies, let us glance at their infancy before talking of other topics. Referring to one occasion when she was obliged to keep her bed, in November, 1841, the Queen writes : " Albert brought in dearest little Pussy (the Princess Royal) in such a smart white merino frock trimmed with blue, which mamma had given her, and a pretty cap, and placed her on my bed, seating himself next to her, and she was very dear and good. And as my precious invaluable Albert sat there, and our little love between us, I felt quite moved with happiness and gratitude to God."

" When the youthful pair were a little older," says Miss Tytler, " they would stand still and quiet in the music room to hear the Prince-father discourse sweet sounds on his organ and the Queen-mother sing with one of her ladies. . . .The small people furnished a never-ending series of merry anecdotes. . . . Now it was the little princess, a quaint tiny figure in dark blue velvet and white shoes and yellow kid gloves' keeping the nurseries alive with her sports, showing off the new frocks she had got as a Christmas-box from her grand-mamma, the Duchess of Kent, and bidding Miss Liddell put one on. Now it was the Queen offending the dignity of her little daughter by calling her Missy,' and being told in indignant tones I am not Missy, I'm the Princess Royal.' Or it was Lady Lyttelton, who was warned off by the dismissal in French from the morsel of royalty, not quite three, ' N'approchez pas moi, moi ne veut pas vous.' "