Who Were Queen Victoria’s Children?

The “Grandmother of Europe” made careful plans to eventually unite the continent using her nine offspring. Who were these unique individuals?

Mar 16, 2024By Kassandre Dwyer, M.Ed History
who were queen victoria children


Queen Victoria of England made her mark on world history with a lengthy reign that included rapid industrialization, economic progress, and colonization. It was said that the “sun never set” on her empire, and she had plans to grow it further. Among her ambitions was a united Europe, a goal she planned to accomplish with the marriages of her children. However, the nine individuals born to Victoria and Prince Albert weren’t necessarily keen to follow their mother’s architecture of their futures, proving to be unique, compelling figures in their own right.


1. Vicky (Victoria, Princess Royal, 1840-1901)

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Victoria, Princess Royal, in her wedding dress by Frank Reynolds, 1858. Source: Royal Collection Trust.


The eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was baptized Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa but was known to family and friends as simply “Vicky.” An intelligent child, Vicky was well-educated and could converse in several languages. In hopes of securing close ties between England and Prussia, Queen Victoria arranged Vicky’s marriage when the child was only fourteen, to then twenty-four-year-old Frederick William “Fritz,” the heir to the Prussian throne. They married three years later. Vicky gave birth to the future Kaiser William (Wilhelm) II in 1859 after a difficult pregnancy. Seven more children would follow, though two would tragically die from childhood diseases.


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Kaiser Wilhelm II, son of Vicky and Fritz. Photo from the Hulton-Deutsch Collection. Source: The New Yorker


Vicky and her husband found themselves the center of much friction within Queen Victoria’s extended family as time went on and the subject of German unification became a hot topic. Her husband ruled as German emperor for only 99 days as he was terminally ill at the time of his ascension in 1888.


When her son took the throne after his father’s death, Vicky retired to a castle near Frankfurt am Main. Her relationship with her son, the new emperor, was fractious and strained. Vicky was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1899, which spread to her spine and killed her in 1901.

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2. Bertie (Albert Edward, Prince of Wales; King Edward VII, 1841-1910)

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Prince Albert Edward, “Bertie.” Source: Biography


Named for his father, Albert Edward was affectionately known as “Bertie” to those closest to him. His upbringing was strict in an effort to prepare him for his eventual role as king. This seemed to backfire, as young Bertie was said to be “idle” and “lazy.” In addition, he was a ladies’ man and party boy. Regardless, his parents endeavored to find him the perfect marriage match since he was eventually likely to lead the country. He was engaged to Alexandra of Denmark, who was an ideal match for him in many ways, though not necessarily politically.


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Portrait of the royal family in 1846, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. From left: Prince Alfred (boys commonly wore dresses in toddlerhood), Prince Albert Edward, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Princess Alice, Princess Helena, and Princess Victoria. Source: Royal Collection Trust


His parents had hoped to marry him to a Prussian princess, but as the list of suitable German candidates dried up, Alix’s charms won the day. Betrothed Bertie became involved in the military, and in the summer of 1861, he attended a training camp in Dublin. During this time, it was discovered that Bertie began an affair with a woman of low repute, Nellie Clifden. When his father found out, the senior prince was devastated and hastened to meet with Bertie, despite suffering from illness, to reprimand his son and set him on a path appropriate for a future king. The two made amends, and Bertie promised to improve his behavior.


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Prince Albert Edward and Princess Alexandra with three of their children in 1868. Source: Early 20th Century Nerd


Just after returning from the visit, Prince Albert’s physical condition worsened considerably, and just a few weeks later, he died. Queen Victoria was distraught at the loss of the love of her life and blamed her son for causing the stress that led to his father’s death. She sent her son abroad in the following years and wrote to Vicky that being in the same country as Bertie was “more than ever unbearable.”


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King Edward VII (1841-1910) by Sir Luke Fildes, 1901. Source: Royal Collection Trust


Bertie became King Edward VII on January 22, 1901, following his mother’s death. He and Alix had six children together, including George V, who would eventually rule England himself.


3. Alice (Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, 1843-1878)

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Alice and the Grand Duke. Source: Five Minute History


Alice Maud Mary had a typical royal upbringing and was especially close with her older brother Bertie. Alice married Louis, the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, in 1862, just months after her father died. She and Louis had seven children, the most famous of whom was likely Alexandra, the future Tsarina of Russia.


However, the marriage was not a happy one, as Alice found her husband dull and a poor conversationalist. She kept herself busy with the social concerns of the lower class and aiding wounded soldiers during the Bismarck wars. Alice’s life was short, as she died from diphtheria on the 17th anniversary of her father’s death at the age of 35.


4. Affie (Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Admiral of the Fleet, 1844-1900)

queen victorias children affie
Portrait of HRH Alfred Ernest Albert by Arthur Leopold Bambridge, featured in the Royal Marines Museum. Source: Art UK


Alfred Ernest Albert was second in line to the throne behind his older brother, but had his eye on the military instead of the monarchy from a young age. From childhood, he had expressed an interest in joining the Navy. When Prince Otto of Greece abdicated in 1862, Affie was selected to take his place on the Greek throne. However, the British government blocked this move, largely due to the queen’s opposition. Instead, he continued his naval career, which included a voyage around the world.


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Prince Alfred (1844-1900), later Duke of Edinburgh, when a child by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1852. Source: Royal Collection Trust


Affie married Russian Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna in 1874, but it was an unhappy union. Still, the couple went on to have six children, one of whom was a stillborn son. The Duke of Edinburgh passed away in 1900 from throat cancer.


5. Lenchen (Princess Helena, 1846-1923)

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Prince Christian and Princess Helena. Source: Grand Ladies


Helena Augusta Victoria, always known to her family as Lenchen, was an active child with a strong interest in science and technology. She enjoyed riding horses and art, specifically drawing. She fell in love with Carl Ruland, who had been employed by the royal household to teach her older brother German as a teen. However, once the queen learned of this attachment, Ruland was dismissed.


Two years later, nineteen-year-old Helena was matched with thirty-four-year-old Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. The marriage caused controversy as the families of two of Helena’s older siblings, the Danish connections of Bertie and the German family of Vicky, contested claims to Schleswig-Holstein. The couple nevertheless persisted in a marriage that lasted fifty years and produced five children.


6. Louise (Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, 1848-1939)

queen victorias children louise
Princess Louise. Source: Pixelrz


Louise was the definition of a Victorian-era anti-princess. She was unique, determined, and refused to live by anyone else’s rules. She learned to cook, became a sculptor, and supported women’s suffrage. She engaged in several steamy love affairs before marrying John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne and Duke of Argyll.


Campbell was appointed Canada’s governor general in 1878, and the couple spent five years in Ottawa. Louise became the first British princess to not only visit but live in Canada. She and her husband founded the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts and the National Gallery of Canada.


Decades before Princess Diana, Louise was known as the “people’s princess,” not expecting special treatment just because she was a royal. Her husband was alleged to be homosexual, and Louise was rumored to have engaged in numerous affairs throughout her marriage. The couple had no children, though Louise was suspected to have had an illegitimate child in her late teens before marrying. Princess Louise’s files in the Royal Archives are currently closed to the public, adding more of a mysterious air to the life of Victoria’s sixth child.


7. Arthur (Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught & Strathearn, 1850-1942)

queen victorias children arthur leopold
Arthur, right, and his younger brother Leopold in a photo taken by John Jabez Edwin Mayall on Bertie’s wedding day in 1863. Source: Royal Collection Trust


The seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria was named for Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who happened to share his birthday. Arthur was interested in the military from a young age and enrolled at the Royal Military College when he was sixteen. Upon graduation, he began a long career as an army officer. He was the only of Victoria’s sons to see active service, commanding during the Egyptian Campaign of 1882. Later, his nephew, King George V, appointed him governor-general of Canada.


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Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (Arthur William Patrick Albert) by Richard Caton Woodville, 1914. Source: Artware Fine Art


Arthur was betrothed to and married German princess Louise Margaret in 1879. They had three children, two of whom he outlived. In fact, he was the longest-living male member of the royal family until he was superseded by Prince Philip in 2013. Arthur was a godparent of future Queen Elizabeth II.


8. Leopold (Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, 1853-1884)

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Prince Leopold. Source: European Royal History


When the fourth son of the royal couple was about five or six years old, it was discovered that he had hemophilia, a devastating diagnosis for the time. An inherited bleeding disorder, hemophilia results in improper blood clotting after routine injuries and sometimes results in spontaneous bleeding. This was the first instance of the disease in the British Royal House, but it wouldn’t be the last emergence among Queen Victoria’s descendants. Modern evidence traces the path of the disease back to earlier generations of the family of the queen’s mother.


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Leopold with his wife Helene. Source: Dearest Mama


As a result of his delicate health, Leopold was closely guarded and confined as a child, resulting in a lonely existence. He eventually persuaded the Queen to let him attend Oxford University, where he befriended the likes of Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde.


His mother continued to be overprotective of him in adulthood, and marriage prospects were difficult due to his disease. After several rejections, Victoria arranged a meeting with Princess Helene Friederike of Waldeck-Pyrmont. Leopold and Helene were married in 1882 and had a daughter and son. In March of 1884, Leopold slipped and fell while at a friend’s residence in France. He hit his knee and head and perished the next morning at age 31 from an apparent cerebral hemorrhage.


9. Baby (Princess Beatrice, Governor of the Isle of Wight, 1857-1944)

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Beatrice photographed with her mother, the Queen, in 1862, by Louis Joseph Ghemar. Source: Royal Collection Trust


The royal family’s youngest child, aptly nicknamed “Baby,” spent much of her life as her mother’s constant companion. In fact, her mother, as eager as she had been to marry off the rest of her children to make political gains, only let Beatrice marry on the condition that she and her new husband made their home with the queen.


queen victorias children beatrice
Portrait of Beatrice by Philip de Laszlo, 1912. Source: Owlcation


Beatrice was lonely as a child, with her closest sibling in age sickly and her father’s recent death taking a toll on the family. Still, her mother indulged her, and she could act naughty at times. Beatrice married Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885, with whom she had four children. Her husband died from malaria after a trip to Africa in 1896, and Beatrice succeeded him in his role as Governor of the Isle of Wight but did so while remaining at home with the queen. Upon the death of the queen, Beatrice focused on renovating royal residences and local chapels. She died at age 87 in 1944.

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By Kassandre DwyerM.Ed HistoryKassie is a farmer with a passion for history who has a day job teaching middle school social studies in her hometown. In addition to earning NBCT certification and M.Ed. in History, she holds an M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction and a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture/Animal Science. She is particularly interested in telling the stories of often overlooked historical perspectives or hidden truths, and is especially intrigued by the history of America’s Indigenous peoples, war, and the “wild west.”