Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise
The secrets of Queen Victoria's sixth child, Princess Louise, may be destined to remain hidden forever. What was so dangerous about this artistic, tempestuous royal that her life has been documented more by rumor and gossip than hard facts? When Lucinda Hawksley started to investigate, often thwarted by inexplicable secrecy, she discovered a fascinating woman, modern before her time, whose story has been shielded for years from public view.
Louise was a sculptor and painter, friend to the Pre-Raphaelites and a keen member of the Aesthetic movement. The most feisty of the Victorian princesses, she kicked against her mother's controlling nature and remained fiercely loyal to her brothers-especially the sickly Leopold and the much-maligned Bertie. She sought out other unconventional women, including Josephine Butler and George Eliot, and campaigned for education and health reform and for the rights of women. She battled with her indomitable mother for permission to practice the "masculine" art of sculpture and go to art college-and in doing so became the first British princess to attend a public school.
The rumors of Louise's colorful love life persist even today, with hints of love affairs dating as far back as her teenage years, and notable scandals included entanglements with her sculpting tutor Joseph Edgar Boehm and possibly even her sister Princess Beatrice's handsome husband, Liko. True to rebellious form, she refused all royal suitors and became the first member of the royal family, since the sixteenth century, to marry a commoner. She moved with him to Canada when he was appointed Governor-General.
Spirited and lively, Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter is richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals, and secrets, and is a vivid portrait of a princess desperate to escape her inheritance.
regular arguments with her sisters, and – particularly with Beatrice – the arguments could be vindictive and spectacular on both sides, it is testament to all of the princesses’ personalities that even the angriest of disagreements was always made up. Among the many obituaries of Princess Louise, one contained the words: ‘Although in her early years she suffered from the austerity of her family life, the modern trend of thought found in her a sympathetic friend. Regarded as the most
rebuffed. On my initial approach I discovered that their archives were in the process of being rehoused and it would be over a year before they could be accessed again. More than a year later, I was told they were still inaccessible; and the same some months afterwards. My last two enquiries simply went unanswered. When I visited Inveraray as a tourist, in the summer of 2012, I was told by a curator inside the castle that the archives had not been rehoused. The curator also mentioned that it was
same time it brought out all his warm kind nature, which was very touching to see. In his absence, Bertie’s siblings took on some of the duties the Prince of Wales would have been expected to undertake. Louise was a great success when she launched HMS Inflexible at Portsmouth docks on 28 April 1876. The Inflexible was clad in thick iron and carried bigger guns than any British warship before her. Shortly after launching this ‘monster’ of a ship, the princess had a lifeboat named after her at
of the unmaternal monarch may have been able to value themselves only when they were being valued and desired by others. As the wife of the Governor-General and daughter of the monarch, Louise would have been wise to choose someone from the royal household, whose discretion was assured. Colonel McNeill was just one of the many names suggested as Louise’s lover in later newspaper articles. There was also gossip that she had a ‘favourite guide’ from the Micmac tribe. This tribe lived at the mouth
official news bulletin. The story neatly avoids any mention of the fact that Louise had gone to Balmoral alone. By the autumn, however, the papers had got hold of the story that she was to travel incognito overseas without Lorne, returning to the spas at Aix-les-Bains (where she met old friends and made new ones, including Anny Thackeray, the novelist daughter of William Thackeray). Once again, there was speculation about their lack of children and queries as to whether it would be possible for a