Family Life

"Upon the good education of princes, and especially of those who are

destined to govern, the welfare of the world in these days very

greatly depends."

The love of children was always a strong connecting link between the

Queen and her people. No trouble was ever spared by her to obtain

the best possible advice on the training of her own family. The

nursery was as well governed as her kingdom.

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Acting upon the advice of Baron Stockmar, the Queen determined to

have some one at the head on whom she could thoroughly rely, as her

many occupations prevented her from devoting so much time to these

duties as she could have wished. Lady Lyttelton, who had been a

lady-in-waiting, was appointed governess to the Royal Family in 1842,

and for eight years she held this post, winning the affection and

respect of her young pupils and the gratitude of the Queen and her


From time to time the Queen wrote her views upon the subject. "The

greatest maxim of all is," she declared, "that the children should

be brought up as simply, and in as domestic a way as possible; that

(not interfering with their lessons) they should be as much as

possible with their parents, and learn to place their greatest

confidence in them in all things."

Training in religion, to be of real and lasting value, must be given

by the mother herself, and in 1844 the Queen noted with regret that

it was not always possible for her to be with the Princess Royal when

the child was saying her prayers.

"I am quite clear," she said, "that she ought to be taught to have

great reverence for God and for religion, but that she should have

the feeling of devotion and love which our Heavenly Father encourages

His earthly children to have for Him, and not one of fear and

trembling; and that the thoughts of death and an after-life should

not be represented in an alarming and forbidding view, and that she

should be made to know as yet no difference of creeds, and not think

that she can only pray on her knees, or that those who do not kneel

are less fervent and devout in their prayers."

On November 21, 1840, the Queen's first child, Victoria Adelaide Mary

Louisa, the Princess Royal, was born. The Prince's care of his wife

"was like that of a mother, nor could there be a kinder, wiser, or

more judicious nurse." Only for a moment was he disappointed that

his first child was a daughter and not a son.

The children were all brought up strictly and were never allowed to

appear at Court until a comparatively late age. They were all taught

to use their hands as well as their heads, and at Osborne, in the

Swiss cottage, the boys worked at carpentering and gardening, while

the girls were employed in learning cooking and housekeeping.

Christmas was always celebrated in splendid fashion by the family,

and the royal children were always encouraged to give as presents

something which they had made with their own hands. Lessons in riding,

driving, and swimming also formed part of their training, for the

Queen was wise enough to realize that open-air exercise was very

necessary for the health of her children.

In 1846 the question arose as to who should educate the Prince of

Wales (born 1841). A pamphlet on the subject had been published and

created general interest. Baron Stockmar was again consulted, and

gave it as his opinion that the Prince's education should be one

"which will prepare him for approaching events"--that is, he was to

be so educated that he would be in touch with the movements of the

age and able to respond sympathetically to the wishes of the nation.

The rapid growth of democracy throughout Europe made it absolutely

necessary that his education should be of a different kind. The task

of governing well was becoming more and more difficult, and reigning

monarchs were criticized in an open fashion, such as had not hitherto

been possible. After much thought the post was given to Mr Henry Birch

(formerly a master at Eton College, and at that time rector of

Prestwich, near Manchester), who had made a very favourable

impression upon the Queen and her husband.

Plain people as well as princes must be educated, and this fact was

never lost sight of by the Queen and her husband. In 1857 the Prince

called attention to the fact that there were at that time no fewer

than 600,000 children between the ages of three and fifteen absent

from school but known to be employed in some way; he pointed out

also--and this seems in these days difficult to believe--that no less

than two million children were not attending school, and were, so

far as could be ascertained, not employed in any way at all.

The most interesting visitors whom the Queen entertained during her

early married life were the Emperor Nicholas of Russia and Louis

Napoleon of France. The Emperor Nicholas came to England, as he told

the Queen, to see things with his own eyes, and to win, if he could,

the confidence of English statesmen. "I esteem England highly; but

as to what the French say of me, I care not."

He was, however, undoubtedly jealous of this country's growing

friendship with her old enemy, France, but any attempt to weaken this

met with no encouragement.

The Queen, in writing to her uncle Leopold, said, "He gives Albert

and myself the impression of a man who is not happy, and on whom

the burden of his immense power and position weighs heavily and

painfully. He seldom smiles, and when he does, the expression is

not a happy one. He is very easy to get on with." In a further letter

she continued, "By living in the same house together quietly and

unrestrainedly (and this Albert, and with great truth, says is the

great advantage of these visits, that I not only see these great

people, but know them), I got to know the Emperor and he to know

me. . . . He is sincere, I am certain, sincere even in his most

despotic acts--from a sense that that is the only way to

govern. . . . He feels kindness deeply--and his love for his wife

and children, and for all children, is very great. He has a strong

feeling for domestic life, saying to me, when our children were in

the room: 'These are the sweet moments of our life.' One can see by

the way he takes them up and plays with them that he is very fond

of children." And again she wrote: "He also spoke of princes being

nowadays obliged to strive to make themselves worthy of their

position, so as to reconcile people to the fact of their being


The effect of this visit was to make France somewhat suspicious, and

the Queen expressed her wish that it might not prevent the visit which

had been promised by King Louis Philippe.

There was at one time actually danger of war over trouble in the East,

but King Leopold, whose kingdom was in the happy position of having

its independence guaranteed by the Powers,[2] was able to bring his

influence to bear, and the critical period passed over, to the great

relief of the Queen.

[Footnote 2: This, however, did not protect Belgium in 1914, when

Germany did not hesitate to attack her.]

In 1844 King Louis Philippe paid his promised visit, of which the

Queen said, "He is the first King of France who comes on a visit to

the Sovereign of this country. A very eventful epoch, indeed, and

one which will surely bring good fruits."

The King was immensely pleased with everything he saw, and with the

friendly reception he received. He assured the Queen that France did

not wish to go to war with England, and he told her how pleased he

was that all their difficulties were now smoothed over.

During his stay he was invested with the Order of the Garter--an Order,

it is interesting to recollect, which had been created by Edward the

Third after the Battle of Cressy, and whose earliest knights were

the Black Prince and his companions.

The Corporation of London went to Windsor in civic state to present

the King with an address of congratulation. He declared in his answer

that "France has nothing to ask of England, and England has nothing

to ask of France, but cordial union."

But in 1848 the Orleans dynasty was overthrown, France proclaimed

a republic, and King Louis Philippe, his wife and family were forced

to flee to England. Here in 1850, broken in health, the King died.

In 1852 Louis Napoleon, who had been elected President for life,

created himself Emperor, and in 1855, after the conclusion of the

Crimean War and the death of the Emperor Nicholas, he visited


A State Ball was held of which the Queen wrote: "How strange to think

that I, the granddaughter of George III, should dance with the

Emperor Napoleon, nephew of England's great enemy, now my nearest

and most intimate ally, in the Waterloo room, and this ally only six

years ago living in this country an exile, poor and unthought of! . . .

I am glad to have known this extraordinary man, whom it is certainly

impossible not to like when you live with him, and not even to a

considerable extent to admire. I believe him to be capable of

kindness, affection, friendship, and gratitude. I feel confidence

in him as regards the future; I think he is frank, means well towards

us, and, as Stockmar says, 'that we have insured his sincerity and

good faith towards us for the rest of his life.'"

The Queen and her husband paid frequent visits, and made many tours

during their early married life. It was a great source of pleasure

to both of them to feel that everywhere they went they were received

with the greatest delight and enthusiasm.

In 1847 they visited Cambridge University, of which Prince Albert

was now Chancellor. "Every station and bridge, and resting-place,

and spot of shade was peopled with eager faces watching for the Queen,

and decorated with flowers; but the largest, and the brightest, and

the gayest, and the most excited assemblage was at Cambridge station

itself. . . . I think I never saw so many children before in one

morning, and I felt so much moved at the spectacle of such a mass

of life collected together and animated by one feeling, and that a

joyous one, that I was at a loss to conceive how any woman's sides

can bear the beating of so strong a throb as must attend the

consciousness of being the object of all that excitement, the centre

of attraction to all those eyes. But the Queen has royal strength

of nerve."[3]

[Footnote 3: The Duke of Argyll, Queen Victoria.]

In 1849 they paid their first visit to Ireland, and received a royal

welcome on landing in Cork. The Queen noticed particularly that

"the beauty of the women is very remarkable, and struck us much; such

beautiful dark eyes and hair, and such fine teeth; almost every third

woman was pretty, and some remarkably so."

The royal children were the objects of great admiration. "Oh! Queen,

dear!" screamed a stout old lady, "make one of them Prince Patrick,

and all Ireland will die for you."

In Dublin, the capital of a country which had very recently been in

revolt, the loyal welcome was, if possible, even more striking.

The Queen writes: "It was a wonderful and striking spectacle, such

masses of human beings, so enthusiastic, so excited, yet such perfect

order maintained; then the numbers of troops, the different bands

stationed at certain distances, the waving of hats and handkerchiefs,

the bursts of welcome which rent the air--all made a

never-to-be-forgotten scene."

Lord Clarendon, writing of the results of the Irish tour, said, "The

people are not only enchanted with the Queen and the gracious

kindness of her manner and the confidence she has shown in them, but

they are pleased with themselves for their own good feelings and

behaviour, which they consider have removed the barrier that

hitherto existed between the Sovereign and themselves, and that they

now occupy a higher position in the eyes of the world."

In 1850 they visited for the first time the Palace of Holyrood. This

was a memorable occasion, for since Mary, Queen of Scots, had been

imprisoned there, no queen had ever stayed within its walls.

The Queen took the liveliest interest in the many objects of

historical interest which were shown to her. "We saw the rooms where

Queen Mary lived, her bed, the dressing-room into which the murderers

entered who killed Rizzio, and the spot where he fell, where, as the

old housekeeper said to me, 'If the lady would stand on that side,'

I would see that the boards were discoloured by the blood. Every step

is full of historical recollections, and our living here is quite

an epoch in the annals of this old pile, which has seen so many deeds,

more bad, I fear, than good."

Both the Queen and her husband had an especial love for animals, and

the Queen's suite, when she travelled, always included a number of

dogs. Her favourites were Skye terriers and the so-called

'turnspits' which were introduced into this country by Prince Albert.

One of the Queen's great delights at Windsor was to walk round the

farms and inspect the cattle, which are still, owing largely to the

careful methods of feeding and tending instituted by the Prince,

among the finest in the world. Kindness to animals was a lesson she

taught to all her children, and pictures and statuettes of all her

old favourites were to be found in her homes.


QUEEN VICTORIA m. PRINCE ALBERT of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha



Victoria, Princess Princess Alice Princess Beatrice

Royal (Empress (Grand Duchess (Princess Henry of

Frederick of of Hesse) Battenberg)

Germany) born 1840 born 1843 born 1857

-------------------- -----------


Prince Leopold

--------- (Duke of Albany)

Prince Alfred, Duke born 1853

of Edinburgh (Duke

of Saxe-Coburg and Princess Helena --------

Gotha) born 1844 (Princess Christian

of Schleswig-

Holstein) born 1846 Prince Arthur

(Duke of Connaught)

born 1850

Princess Louise

-------------- (Duchess of Argyll)

born 1848

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, m. Princess Alexandra of Denmark

born 1841 1863

(King Edward VII)


Albert Victor George Frederick, Prince Alexander

(Duke of Clarence) Prince of Wales, born 1870

born 1864 born 1865

(King George V),

m., 1893, Princess

Victoria Mary of Teck

-------------------- --------------

Princess Louise Princess Victoria Princess Maud

(Duchess of Fife) born 1868 (Queen of Norway)

born 1867 born 1869