The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Princess Louise

Princess Louise

A carte-de-visite portrait of Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter.

Born at Buckingham Palace in 1848, Louise was a lively, intelligent and talented child who grew into the loveliest of Queen Victoria’s daughters.

In the late 1860s, the business of Louise's marriage came under consideration. By this point, it was practically a family custom for eldest sister Vicky, Crown Princess of Prussia, to get out her 'Almanach de Gotha' and start matchmaking. However, Louise, who was not over fond of royal ritual and stuffy court life, had other ideas. Her best future, Louise decided, lay in Britain. That, of course, meant a British husband which, in turn, meant a non-royal and a commoner, unheard of at that time. However, her engagement to the John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne in 1870 was supported not only by her mother but also by her mother's Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who knew Lorne for a gentle, good-tempered man of 'bright cultivated intelligence' who would be just right for the artistic Louise.

Although the match pleased the British public, which had feared yet another of the 'German marriages', it was not a success, largely due to the fact that the groom was homosexual. After the turbulent early years of their marriage, the couple eventually reached a modus vivendi. While maintaining a façade of bourgeois respectability, Louise found fulfilment as a painter and sculptor, Lorne as a writer of books on travel. From 1878 to 1883, he was Governor-General of Canada. As a link between and dominion, Louise was a disaster - she hated colonial society and constantly invented excuses to absent herself. Lorne, however, performed creditably.

Lorne died at Kent House on the Isle of Wight in 1914. Louise died on 3 December 1939 at the age of 91.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.


Code: 124063
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