Victorian Brides - Victoria, Princess Royal

Updated: Sep 15, 2019


Victoria, Princess Royal (b.21 November 1840 – d.5 August 1901);


Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Victoria, Princess Royal became German empress & queen of Prussia by marriage to German Emperor Frederick III. She was the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom & Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, & was created Princess Royal in 1841.


As a daughter of the British sovereign, Victoria was born a princess. On 19 January 1841, she was made Princess Royal, a title sometimes conferred on the eldest daughter of the sovereign. In addition, she was heir presumptive to the throne, before the birth of her younger brother Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII) on 9 November 1841. To her family, she was known simply as "Vicky".


Engagement & wedding;


The engagement of Victoria & Frederick was publicly announced on 17 May 1856.


To pay the dowry of the Princess Royal, the British Parliament allotted the sum of 40,000 pounds & also gave her an allowance of £8,000 per year. Meanwhile, in Berlin, King Frederick William IV provided an annual allowance of 9,000 thalers to his nephew Frederick. The income of the second-in-line to the Prussian throne proved insufficient to cover a budget consistent with his position & that of his future wife. Throughout much of their marriage, Victoria's own resources were relied upon.


Royal Wedding, Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, 25 January 1858, by JAMES BROOKS, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The question of where to hold the marriage ceremony raised criticism. To the Hohenzollerns, it seemed natural that the nuptials of the future Prussian king would be held in Berlin. However, Queen Victoria insisted that her eldest daughter must marry in her own country, & in the end, she prevailed. Victoria married Prince Frederick of Prussia, later Frederick III, German Emperor & King of Prussia, son of Wilhelm I & Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, at St. James's Palace, Chapel Royal, St. James's, London, England.


Victoria's wedding dress;


Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

On 25 January 1858, a royal wedding took place that was aimed at aligning the fortunes of Europe's two most important powers, Great Britain & Germany's chief principality, Prussia.


Victoria, Princess Royal, when Princess Frederick William of Prussia by HENRY CHARLES HEATH, 1858; Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The bride was Victoria, or "Vicky, Princess Royal", the oldest child of Queen Victoria & her husband, Prince Albert.


Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The Princess Royal had eight bridesmaids; Lady Susan Pelham-Clinton-under (daughter of the Duke of Newcastle), Lady Emma Stanley (daughter of the Earl of Derby), Lady Susan Murray (daughter of the Earl of Dunmore), Lady Victoria Noel (daughter of the Earl of Gainsborough), Lady Cecilia Lennox (daughter of the Duke of Richmond), Lady Katherine Hamilton (daughter of the Duke of Abercorn), Lady Constance Villiers (daughter of the Earl of Clarendon), & Lady Cecilia Molyneux (daughter of the Earl of Sefton.


Victoria, Princess Royal's, eight bridesmaids; Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

[Wedding of Victoria, Princess Royal and Frederick III] c.1858-60's, by John Branard, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Her wedding dress was manufactured by Mrs Darvill, designed by Janet Fife, & composed of a rich robe of white moire antique; ornamented with three flounces of Honiton lace.


Victoria, Princess Royal, by THOMAS RICHARD WILLIAMS, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The design of the lace consisted of bouquets in open work of the rose, shamrock, & thistle in three medallions. At the top of each flounce on the front of the dress was wreaths of orange & myrtle blossoms, the latter being the bridal flower of Germany, every wreath ended with bouquets of the same flowers & the length of each being so graduated as to give the appearance of a robe hemmed with flowers.


Queen Victoria & Victoria, Princess Royal, & a lady-in-waiting c.1858-60's, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The apex of this floral pyramid was formed by a large bouquet worn on the girdle. The train, which was of the unusual length of more than three yards, was of white moire antique, trimmed with two rows of Honiton lace surmounted by wreaths similar to those on the flounces of the dress with bouquets at short intervals


Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Married life;


Victoria suffered ostracism by the Hohenzollerns & the Berlin court. This isolation increased after the arrival of Otto von Bismarck (one of her most staunch political opponents) to power in 1862.


Victoria, Princess Royal, Crown Princess of Prussia', 10 Mar 1863, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Victoria was empress & queen of Prussia for only a few months, during which she had opportunity to influence the policy of the German Empire. Frederick III died in 1888 – just 99 days after his accession from laryngeal cancer & was succeeded by their son William II, who had much more conservative views than his parents. After her husband's death, she became widely known as Empress Frederick (German: Kaiserin Friedrich). The empress dowager then settled in Kronberg im Taunus, where she built Friedrichshof, a castle, named in honour of her late husband. Increasingly isolated after the weddings of her younger daughters, Victoria died of breast cancer a few months after her mother in 1901.


Victoria, Princess Royal, Crown Princess of Prussia, by ALBERT GRAEFLE 1863; Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The correspondence between Victoria & her parents has been preserved almost completely: 3,777 letters from Queen Victoria to her eldest daughter, & about 4,000 letters from the empress to her mother are preserved & catalogued. These give a detailed insight into the life of the Prussian court between 1858 & 1900.


The couple had eight children;


  1. Wilhelm II, German Emperor & King of Prussia (b.27 January 1859 - d.4 June 1941)

  2. Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen (b.24 July 1860 - d.1 October 1919)

  3. Prince Henry of Prussia (b.14 August 1862 - d.20 April 1929)

  4. Prince Sigismund of Prussia (b.15 September 1864 - d.18 June 1866) - died of meningitis

  5. Viktoria, Princess Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe (b.12 April 1866 - d.13 November 1929)

  6. Prince Waldemar of Prussia (b.10 February 1868 - d,27 March 1879) - died of diphtheria

  7. Sophia, Queen of the Hellenes (b.14 June 1870 - d.13 January 1932)

  8. Margaret, Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel (b.22 April 1872 - d.22 January 1954)



Victoria, Princess Royal, Crown Princess of Prussia (1840-1901) Signed & dated 1867, by FRANZ XAVER WINTERHALTER, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018
  • Victoria was precocious & intelligent, she learned French at the age of 18 months, & she studied German when aged just four. She also learned Greek & Latin. From the age of six, her curriculum included lessons of arithmetic, geography & history, & her father tutored her in politics & philosophy. She also studied science & literature. Her school days, interrupted by three hours of recreation, began at 8:20 & finished at 18:00. Victoria was an excellent student who was always hungry for knowledge.


Victoria, Princess Royal, Crown Princess of Germany, by BARON HEINRICH VON ANGELI , 1876, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Queen Victoria with Victoria, Princess Royal when Empress Frederick, Jun 1889; both wearing black in mourning holding a photograph of Emperor Frederick III who died in June 1888; Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

visit: www.rct.uk for more information


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