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Thursday, February 16, 2023

REVIEW: Queen Victoria's Daughters-in-Law, by John Van der Kiste

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Of Queen Victoria’s four sons, the eldest married a Danish princess, one a Russian Grand Duchess, and the other two princesses of German royal houses.

The first to join the family of the ‘Grandmama of Europe’ was Alexandra, eldest daughter of the prince about to become King Christian IX of Denmark. Charming, ever sympathetic and widely considered one of the most attractive royal women of her time, she was prematurely deaf and suffered from a limp which was made fashionable by court ladies due to her popularity. Alexandra proved an ideal wife for the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Grand Duchess Marie, daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and wife of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and later Saxe-Coburg Gotha, was cultured and intelligent, but dowdy, haughty and, convinced of the Romanovs’ superiority, resented having to give precedence at court to her in-laws.

Louise of Prussia, a niece of William I, German Emperor, had the good fortune to escape from a miserable family life in Berlin and marry Arthur, Duke of Connaught, a dedicated army officer who was always the Queen’s favourite among her children.

Finally, Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont, sister of Emma, Queen Consort of the Netherlands, became the wife of the cultured Leopold, Duke of Albany, but he was haemophiliac and their marriage was destined to be the briefest of all, cut short by his sudden death less than three years later.

All four were very different personalities, proved themselves to be supportive wives, mothers and daughters-in-law in their own way, and dedicated workers for charity at home and abroad. Based partly on previously unpublished material from the Royal Archives at Windsor and Madrid, and the Leonie Leslie Papers, University of Chicago, this is the first book to study all four as a family group.

I've read a few of Van der Kiste's other books about royals and have always been fairly well-impressed. Every thing is backed by detailed and thorough research. In this case, a look at 4 women, from different different situations throughout Europe and Russia was fascinating. Van der Kiste did not tell each story in isolation, but rather interwove them as the historical timeline allowed.

This book reads a bit academic, but "fans" of history, and particularly Victorian history will enjoy it nonetheless. 

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Pen & Sword through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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