Princess Alice of the United Kingdom

Princess Alice of the United Kingdom

Infobox British Royalty|royal|consort
name = Princess Alice
title = Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

reign = 13 June 1877 – 14 December 1878
spouse = Louis IV
issue = Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna
Princess Irene, Princess Henry of Prussia
Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse
Prince Friedrich
Alexandra Fyodorovna, Empress of Russia
Princess Marie
full name = Alice Maud Mary
titles = "HRH" The Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine
"HRH" Princess Louis of Hesse
"HRH" The Princess Alice
royal house = House of Hesse
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
father = Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
mother = Victoria of the United Kingdom
date of birth = birth date|1843|4|25
place of birth = Buckingham Palace, London
date of christening = 2 June 1843
place of christening = Buckingham Palace, London
date of death = death date and age|1878|12|14|1843|4|25|df=y
place of death = New Palace, Darmstadt
place of burial = Rosenhöhe, Darmstadt|

The Princess Alice (Alice Maud Mary; 25 April 1843 – 14 December 1878) was a member of the British Royal Family, the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria. As the consort of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse she was The Grand Duchess of Hesse.

Princess Alice was the great-grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II.

Early life

Alice was born on 25 April 1843 at Buckingham Palace, London. [Packard, p. 25] She was the second daughter and third child of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The name Alice was to honour Victoria's first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, who was still a passionate admirer of the Queen and who had once commented that the name “Alice” was his favourite female name.Packard, p. 26] Maud, the Anglo-Saxon name for Matilda, was chosen in honour of one of Alice's godparents, Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester, a niece of King George III. Mary was chosen because Alice was born on the same day as her great-aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester. [Princess Christian, p. 13] Alice was christened in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace by William Howley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on 3 June 1843. Her gender was greeted with a mixture of feeling from the public and even the Privy Council sent a message to Albert expressing its “congratulation and condolence” on the birth of a second daughter.Packard, p. 26] The godparents selected by the Queen were Ernest Augustus I of Hanover for whom Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge stood proxy; Feodora, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, for whom Princess Victoria, Duchess of Kent stood proxy; Ernest II, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. for whom Georg, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz stood proxy and Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester. [LondonGazette |issue=20231 |date=6 June 1843 |startpage=1889 |accessdate=2008-03-31]


Alice's birth prompted her parents to find a bigger family home. Buckingham Palace was not equipped with the private apartments that Victoria's growing family needed, including suitable nurseries. Therefore, in 1844, Victoria and Albert purchased Osborne House on the Isle of Wight as a family holiday home. Alice's education was devised by her father and his close friend, Baron Stockmar. At Osborne, Alice and her other siblings were taught practical skills such as housekeeping, cooking, gardening and carpentry. [Van der Kiste, p. 22] Victoria and Albert favoured a monarchy based on family values, and Alice and her siblings, who wore middle class clothing on a daily basis, slept in sparsely furnished bedrooms with little heating. [Van der Kiste, p. 23] Alice was fascinated with the world outside the Royal Household, and at Balmoral, where she seemed happiest, she visited the tenants living and working on the estate. On one occasion, she escaped from her governess at the chapel at Windsor Castle and sat in a public pew, so she could better understand people who were not strict adherents to royal protocol. [Packard, p. 64] In 1854, during the Crimean War, the eleven-year old Alice toured London hospitals for wounded soldiers with her mother and eldest sister. [Van der Kiste, p. 28] She was the most emotionally sensitive of her siblings and was sympathetic to other people's burdens, which was matched by a sharp tongue and an easily triggered temper. [Packard, p. 50]

In her childhood, Alice formed a close relationship with her brother, the Prince of Wales, and her eldest sister, Victoria, the Princess Royal. Although Alice shared a close companionship with her sister, and was upset when she married Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1858, she was closest to the Prince of Wales, with whom she held a tight and intimate bond. [Packard, p. 51]

Family caregiver

Alice's compassion for other people's suffering established her role as the family caregiver in the year 1861. Her grandmother Victoria, Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria's mother, died at Frogmore on 16 March 1861. Alice had spent much of her time at her grandmother's side, often played the piano for her in Frogmore's drawing room, and nursed her through the final illness.Packard, p. 87] Following her mother's death, the Queen broke down with grief and relied heavily on Alice, to whom Albert had given the instruction: “Go and comfort Mama.”Packard, p. 87] she wrote to her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium, that “dear good Alice was full of intense tenderness, affection and distress for me”. [Benson, p. 66]

Only a few months later, on 14 December 1861, Albert died at Windsor Castle. During his final illness, Alice remained at his bedside. Alice sent for the Prince of Wales by telegram, without the knowledge of the Queen, who refused to notify him because she blamed him for Albert's death. [Magnus, p. 52] The Queen was distraught by her husband's death, and the court entered a period of intense mourning. [Zeepvat, p. 42] Alice became her mother's unofficial secretary, and through her passed the Queen's official papers to and from her government ministers. [Packard, p. 102] Alice was aided in this task by her younger sister Princess Louise. Although Princess Helena, Louise's elder sister, would normally have been selected, her inability to go long without crying made her an inappropriate choice.Packard, 102]


On 1 July 1862, Princess Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine (12 September 1837-13 March 1892), the son of Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine and the nephew of Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (9 June 1806-13 June 1877), at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. On the day of the wedding, Queen Victoria issued Letters Patent granting her new son-in-law the style "Royal Highness". This style was in effect in Great Britain, not Hesse.

Alice and Louis took up residence at Darmstadt, Hesse. The couple had seven children. It was later learned that Alice carried and passed on the haemophilia gene she inherited from Queen Victoria to several of her own children.


Later life

Princess Alice's concern about the poor nursing conditions for wounded soldiers during the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, led her to found the "Alice-Frauenverein", or Women's Union, to train nurses and auxiliary workers. She also helped found the Alice Hospital, which is still in operation in Darmstadt.

On 13 June 1877, Prince Louis succeeded his uncle as the reigning Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice became the Grand Duchess. However, in November 1878, the Grand Duke and all but one of the children, Princess Elizabeth, fell ill with diphtheria. Elizabeth was sent to live with relatives. Princess Marie died of the disease. Alice had, despite warnings from the physicians, hugged and kissed her one surviving son when she told him of Marie's death.

Exhausted by nursing all of them, Alice succumbed to the disease and died at the New Palace in Darmstadt on 14 December, the anniversary of her father's death. Alice is buried at Rosenhöhe, the mausoleum for the Grand Ducal House of Hesse outside Darmstadt. Prior to her death she spent a few weeks in Eastbourne, East Sussex recuperating. In 1882 the Princess Alice Memorial Hospital was set up in the town in her honour. [The Illustrated London News, No.2254 — Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 15, 1882, p.66 (found at [] )]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

* 25 April 1843 – 1 July 1862: "Her Royal Highness" The Princess Alice
* 1 July 1862 – 13 June 1877: "Her Royal Highness" Princess Louis of Hesse and by Rhine
* 13 June 1877 – 14 December 1878: "Her Royal Highness" The Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine


In 1858, Alice and her three younger sisters were granted use of the royal arms, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony, and differenced by a label argent of three points. On Alice's arms, the outer points were ermine, and the centre bore a rose gules. [ [ Heraldica – British Royalty Cadency] ]


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boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;
boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;
boxstyle_5=background-color: #9fe;
1= 1. Alice of the United Kingdom
2= 2. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
3= 3. Victoria of the United Kingdom
4= 4. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
5= 5. Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
6= 6. Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
7= 7. Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
8= 8. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
9= 9. Princess Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorf
10= 10. Emil, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
11= 11. Louise Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
12= 12. George III of the United Kingdom
13= 13. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
14= 14. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (= 8)
15= 15. Princess Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorf (= 9)
16= 16. Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
17= 17. Duchess Sophia Antonia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
18= 18. Henry XXIV, Count of Reuss-Ebersdorf
19= 19. Countess Caroline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg
20= 20. Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
21= 21. Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen
22= 22. Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
23= 23. Louise of Saxe-Gotha
24= 24. Frederick, Prince of Wales
25= 25. Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
26= 26. Charles Louis Frederick, Duke of Mecklenburg-Mirow
27= 27. Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen
28= 28. Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (= 16)
29= 29. Duchess Sophia Antonia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (= 17)
30= 30. Henry XXIV, Count of Reuss-Ebersdorf (= 18)
31= 31. Countess Caroline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg (= 19)

ee also

*Haemophilia in European royalty


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