Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview
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52
THE DAUGHTERS

'A married daughter I MUST have living with me, and must not be left constantly to look about for help.'

WHEN PRINCESS ALICE, the Queen's second daughter, attempted to persuade her mother to come out of her seclusion she caused quite as much offence as the Queen's Ministers did when they suggested it. She was sharply told that her mother must live the best way she found that she could in order to get through all the work she had to do. 'I require,' she said, 'to shape my own life and ways.'

Although she was no more than eighteen years old when her father died, Princess Alice, a pretty, sympathetic girl, had more or less taken over the running of the household while the Queen was in the first agonies of her grief, sleeping in her mother's room, seeing Ministers on her behalf, and doing all she could to comfort the grievously mourning widow. The Queen, indeed, came so much to rely upon her that when, less than six months after the Prince Consort's death, Princess Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, her mother parted from her with the utmost reluctance, comforting herself with the thought that she and her husband would be able to spend much of their time in England, 'Louis not having any duties to detain him much at home at present'. 1

For a long time the Queen -- who had found the charming and graceful Alice most 'obliging' -- had insisted that she would not let the girl marry so long as she could 'reasonably delay her doing so'. As she had told King Leopold in April 1859, 'I shall not let her marry for as long as I can.' 2 But then the Princess had met Prince Louis and, although Lord Clarendon described him as a 'dull boy', coming from 'a dull family in

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