An accomplished artist, Princess Louise was said to have been the most beautiful of Victoria and Albert’s daughters but she was also the most rebellious and was often at loggerheads with her mother. Louise soon grew tired of the extended period of mourning at the court and her apparent boredom irritated her mother who felt her daughter was becoming too argumentative. When her older sisters married, Louise became her mother’s secretary and Queen Victoria was surprised by her daughter’s efficiency.
However, Louise had a Bohemian spirit who fell easily in love and Victoria was appalled when her daughter fell in love with the Reverend Robinson Duckworth, her brother Leopold’s tutor, and Duckworth was immediately dismissed. Louise was also reputed to have had an affair with the sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm and rumours abounded the princess had been present when Boehm died in his studio. Aware of the rumours, Queen Victoria began to search for a suitable husband for her daughter but she dismissed any suggestions of a foreign prince as she wanted Louise to settle in England like her sister, Helena. As usual, Louise had ideas of her own and announced she wished to marry John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, heir to the dukedom of Argyll.
The choice was controversial since no daughter of a monarch had married a British subject Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII had married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, in 1515. The Prince of Wales was not keen on the match at all, however Queen Victoria supported her daughter’s decision and hinted it was time for some new blood in the family. John was invited to Balmoral Castle and he proposed to Louise on 3 October 1870 with the Queen’s blessing.
Louise and John were married at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 21 March 1871 where the bride was escorted down the aisle by her mother and her eldest brother, the Prince of Wales. Louise wore a white silk wedding gown with deep flounces of Honiton lace trimmed with the traditional orange blossom and myrtle which was made by Messrs Howell and James. The lace was heavily embroidered with shamrocks, thistles and roses linked in a floral chain with bouquets. The Honiton lace veil, featuring floral bouquets from a sketch done by the princess herself, was held in place by two diamond daisy hair pins presented by her siblings, Princes Arthur and Leopold and Princess Beatrice. The lace flounce on the train matched the pattern of the veil with floral bouquets tied with a delicate lovers’ knot.
Louise was supported by eight bridesmaids: Lady Elizabeth Campbell; Lady Mary Cecil; Lady Mary Butler; Lady Florence Montagu; Lady Florence Gordon Lennox; Lady Grace Gordon; Lady Constance Seymour; and, Lady Alice Fitzgerald. The bridesmaids wore white satin and lace trimmed with ivy and crimson roses with bouquets of the same flowers on the shoulders and girdle.
After the ceremony, a luncheon was held in the Oak Room for the royal family, while the rest of the guests attended a buffet in the Waterloo Gallery. Later in the afternoon, Louise and John honeymooned for four days at Claremont, Surrey, before heading to Scotland. Louise and John had no children and their marriage became one of companionship rather than love as they spent a great deal of time apart. There was also speculation John may have been gay as he had established close friendships with men who were known to be homosexual or bisexual.