Childhood at court 1819-1914
John Van der Kiste
Sutton (Stroud, UK), 2004
This book examines the lives of princes and princesses during the Victorian and Edwardian era. The lonely formative years of Princess Victoria of Kent, later Queen Victoria, are covered in detail, and contrasted to the lively nursery days of her own nine children, and in turn of their children as well.
Among the royal children we meet in these pages are Prince Waldemar of Prussia (who sadly died of diphtheria at the age of 11), who enjoyed collecting fossils on the Isle of Wight and terrifying the Queen, his grandmother, with a pet crocodile, at Osborne House; Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein, the first prince to attend public school and who enjoyed cricket much more than his studies; Princess Alice of Albany; and Prince Louis of Battenberg, who was excited when he was allowed to record his voice on a wax cylinder.
The royal matriarchs differed greatly in their attitude to children. Queen Victoria found babies to be ugly and 'very froglike', whereas Queen Alexandra, who adored youngsters, still gave children's parties to her children when they were adults.
The lives of other children who visited court are also examined. Hugh Dalton, a future senior Labour politician, resented his father's devotion to the royal family and was once notoriously rude to the elderly Queen Victoria; while on the other hand Sonia Keppel, daughter of Edward VII's mistress Alice, was often allowed to race pieces of buttered toast down the trousered legs of 'Kingy'.
This report prepared by John Van der Kiste