The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Prince Louis of Hesse and family

Prince Louis of Hesse and family

A carte-de-visite portrait of Princess Alice (1843-1878), second daughter of Queen Victoria, and her husband, Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt (1837-1892), and their first three children, Princess Victoria, Elisabeth and Irene.

Princess Alice was born at Buckingham Palace in 1843, the second daughter and third child of Queen Victoria. A pretty, delicate-featured child, she was fond of gymnastics, a good skater and an excellent horsewoman She grew up to be intellectually clever and interested herself in medical matters and welfare work. She nursed her father through his final illness, and then devoted herself to comforting her mother. In 1862 she married Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt (1837-1892), later Grand Duke Louis IV. Her letters home to her mother reveal her deep love for her husband, her mother, and her native country, which she managed to visit every year.

Two of her children predeceased her and she herself died young at 35. Her son ‘Frittie’ who inherited the family legacy of haemophilia through his mother, died after falling out of a window. Her daughter, May, died in 1878 of diphtheria three weeks ahead of Alice's death. Worn out by nursing and anxiety, she herself succumbed to the same disease on the seventeenth anniversary of her father's death, a coincidence which signified much to her mother. She left one son and three daughters, including Alix, the future wife of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. At her own request, her husband laid a British flag on her coffin.

The three children in this family group are Princess Victoria (1863-1950), who married Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884; Princess Elisabeth (1864-1918), known as ‘Ella’ within the family, who married Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia in 1884 and was murdered during the Bolshevik Revolution; and Princess Irene (1866-1953), who married her cousin, Prince Henry of Prussia, in 1888.

Photographed by Hills and Saunders of Eton, Harrow and Oxford.


Code: 124052
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© Paul Frecker 2019