A Most English Princess


To the world, she was Princess Victoria, daughter of a queen, wife of an emperor, and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. Her family just called her Vicky…smart, pretty, and self-assured, she changed the course of the world.

Young Vicky imagines she’ll inherit the throne of England. Why not? She’s the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and her little brother Bertie is sweet but lazy – she’ll make a far better heir. When her father tells her that males will always take precedence, the precocious princess sets her sights on marrying a powerful prince who will also be the love of her life.


A Most English Princess tells the story of Vicky, Princess Royal, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and her life in Prussia as the wife of the future Emperor Frederick III. The book opens with a dying Vicky entrusting her private letters to the care of her godson, Frederick Ponsonby, and beseeching him to take them back to England. Vicky knows that her home will be ransacked by her eldest son as soon as she dies and she does not want them to fall into his hands.

The next few chapters then move back in time as we meet the young Vicky living at Buckingham Palace with her numerous siblings and it is obvious she is her father’s favourite. With her keen intelligence, Vicky is constantly compared to her younger brother, Bertie, whose lack of intellect has made him a constant source of disappointment to his parents. Aware of Bertie’s flaws, Vicky believes she would make a better heir to the British throne but is unhappy when she discovers males have precedence. As she becomes older, Vicky soon realises her parents have plans to marry her into the Prussian royal family where it is hoped her influence will help the country become more liberal in its thinking.

When Vicky first meets her future husband, she is only eleven and is tasked with the job of showing him around the Great Exhibition which has just opened at the Crystal Palace. Despite her youth, Vicky is intrigued by the shy young man and they keep up a lively correspondence until Vicky is old enough for marriage. In the meantime, Vicky is taught all about Prussian politics by her father and and why it is necessary for the country to change. In these initial chapters, the author is laying the groundwork for Vicky’s stubborn personality and her absolute belief that the Prince Consort’s vision of a unified Germany is the correct one.

When Vicky and Fritz finally marry and move to Berlin, the novel’s pace moves up a gear but everything gets bogged down in politics and it soon becomes obvious Vicky’s opinions are not wanted. Vicky refuses to give up and is determined to bring her father’s vision to fruition even if it is harmful to her husband’s position at court. However, Vicky is soon preoccupied by the birth of her first child and the consequences of a traumatic delivery which leaves her son with a visible disability. The disability will have grave consequences for their future relationship as Vicky’s guilt and anxiety over the problem with his arm leads her son to believe she finds him distasteful. The psychology behind Vicky’s attempts at finding a cure for her son and his growing distance from her are very well done by the author.

Over the next few years, Vicky gives birth to more children and becomes increasingly frustrated by her father-in-law’s lack of respect for her husband. Her attempts to encourage Fritz to stand up for himself prove to be disastrous for both her marriage and his career at court. Yet, Vicky won’t back down especially after the death of her father and she continues to interfere where she is not wanted which strains relationships. As much as I admire Vicky, her stubborn refusal to believe she was ever wrong got on my nerves and reading the book started to became a chore.

For a book that is meant to be about Vicky, the politics were allowed to take over to the detriment of everything else in her life which is a disappointment. This is borne out by the fact the book comes to an abrupt end when unification is achieved and Fritz’s father is declared German Emperor in 1871. Prince Albert’s dream of a united Germany may have been realised but it is so far from what he envisioned, it will have disastrous consequences for generations.

It baffles me why the book ends here as some of the most traumatic moments of Vicky’s life are yet to happen. Like watching her eldest son succumb to the influence of Bismarck or the heart-wrenching decline in Fritz’s health which will cruelly rob him of a voice. The gulf between Vicky and Fritz and their eldest children also widens and the behavioural problems of their eldest daughter are not even mentioned. The widowed Vicky clings tightly to her younger daughters for comfort and retreats to Friedrichshof where she will succumb to cancer on 5 August 1901.

As Vicky is a favourite, I had high hopes for this fictionalised version of her life but the author just fails to get the balance right between Vicky’s private life and the politics of the time which makes for a dull book. I also didn’t really buy into the relationship between Vicky and Fritz which was under developed. Their wedding night lacked any real sense of romance and I certainly never got the impression Vicky had spent as blissful a night in the arms of her husband as her mother once had.