Queen Victoria, once the longest serving monarch in British history, reigned for 63 years, seven months and two days. The monarchy had become increasingly unpopular under the Hanoverians who were compulsive gamblers and prone to infidelity, so Victoria was careful to reinvent the monarchy’s image as a positive one. Victoria’s marriage to her first cousin, Albert, was a love match and the couple went on to have nine children, four boys and five girls, who were portrayed as a loving family in a series of portraits and photographs.
Victoria and Albert arranged marriages for their children amongst the royal houses of Europe in the hopes of influencing more liberal policies and uniting the nations to reduce the prospects of war breaking out. The task was begun with the marriage of their eldest daughter, Vicky, to Frederick William of Prussia, a young man who shared Prince Albert’s desire for a unified Germany. When the disparate nations of Germany eventually united, Vicky and Frederick’s liberal ideas were viewed with distrust and it would lead to tragedy when their son, Wilhelm II, led Europe into the First World War.
As the Grandmother of Europe, Victoria’s matchmaking continued into the next generation with her 42 grandchildren, but the outcome was not always a happy one and tragedy struck at the very heart of her family. As Victoria’s grandchildren spread throughout Europe, the political landscape shifted and many of the familiar royal houses would soon cease to exist.
Most of the current royal houses in Europe are descendants of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren, however one of the prices of marrying into Victoria’s family was the possibility of contracting an hereditary disease, such as haemophilia. Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Leopold, was the first to have the disease in the British royal family and it was responsible for his premature death in 1884, aged just 31 years. Although it is suffered primarily by males, the disease is passed on through the female line, and it spread throughout the European royal households courtesy of Queen Victoria’s daughters and granddaughters. The last known occurrences were in the Spanish royal family who inherited it from Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice. Beatrice’s only daughter, Victoria Eugenie of Battenburg, passed the disease to her two sons, Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, and Gonzalo.
Dearest Mama, the name of this site, is inspired by the fact Queen Victoria was a prolific letter writer who left a vast collection of letters written to and from her children and grandchildren.
I’ve always loved the Victorian era and did more than one school project on the royal family so I decided it would be an excellent way to de-stress. This site is for fun and not meant to be an in-depth study but if it peaks your interest for further research, so much the better. Most of the sources used (mainly books) are listed on each post where possible.