Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's daughter, dead at 91

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 December 3, 1939

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. the oldest surviving child of Queen Victoria, died today at her home in Kensington Palace, reports the New York Times.  The princess, a great-aunt of King George VI, was 91 years old.

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The Court Circular announced that King George and Queen Elizabeth "received the news of the death of the Princess with 'great sorrow.'"

Princess Louise remained in her London home despite the outbreak of the war as her doctor "felt that the danger in moving her to the country would be greater than that from air raids.

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Princess Louise Caroline Alberta was born on March 18, 1848, at Buckingham Palace, the fourth daughter, and sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

She grew up in "quasi-seclusion which marked the Court of Victoria for many years after the death of the Prince Consort."  After the marriage of her older sister, Princess Helena, to Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein,   Louise became her mother's "constant companion."   It was an open secret that she was exceedingly frustrated by the "somewhat isolated position."

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 The princess had an independent streak that "shocked her mother's staid court."  She made it clear that she wanted to study art.  Louise also "won a popular following" for turning down the marriage proposals of several German princes.  In 1868, the King and Queen of the Netherlands were "urgently pressing" Queen Victoria to allow a marriage between Louise and the Prince of Orange.  It was in the fall of 1870 when Queen Victoria gave her permission for Louise to marry John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, the heir apparent to the Dukedom of Argyll.

Princess Louise was the first British/English princess to marry outside the royal circle in 350 years.  Her elder brother, the Prince of Wales, opposed  the marriage, but the queen made it clear in a letter to her son that she approved of the marriage:

"That which you object to [that Louise should marry a subject] I feel certain will be for Louise's happiness and for the peace and quiet of the family ... Times have changed; great foreign alliances are looked on as causes of trouble and anxiety, and are of no good. What could be more painful than the position in which our family were placed during the wars with Denmark, and between Prussia and Austria? ... You may not be aware, as I am, with what dislike the marriages of Princesses of the Royal Family with small German Princes (German beggars as they most insultingly were called) ... As to position, I see no difficulty whatever; Louise remains what she is, and her husband keeps his rank ... only being treated in the family as a relation when we are together."

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The marriage took place on March 21, 1871, at St. George's Chapel at Windsor.

In 1878,  Lord Lorne was named as Governor-General of Canada, and Louise accompanied him.   She was also permitted to study sculpture with Sir Edgar Boehm.  Her studio was next to her Kensington Palace apartment, which she moved into in 1873 following the death of the Duchess of Inverness, the second wife of the late Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex.

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The princess' best-known work is the marble statue of Queen Victoria in Kensington Palace Gardens.

Lord Lorne succeeded to the dukedom in 1900 and died in 1914.  Their marriage was childless.

In her later years,  the Princess "abandoned the heavier work of sculpture for sketching and watercolor painting."   She lived next to her younger sister, Princess Beatrice.

The princess remained active long after her 80th birthday.  She enjoyed walking in Kensington Gardens and often stopped to talk with the women selling fruit and chocolate.

When the Princess married, she received a dowry of £30,000 from Parliament, as well as an annuity of £6000.

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, is survived by her younger brother, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and her younger sister, Princess Beatrice, the widow of Prince Henry of Battenberg.

(The best biography of Princess Louise.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for linking this post to Jehanne Wake's biography! It is truly the best one.