Victoria Battenberg
Victoria Battenberg
Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg was queen consort of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom; and the first cousin of King George V of the United Kingdom, Queen Maud of Norway, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, Queen Marie of Romania, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Queen Louise of Sweden, and Queen Sophia of the Hellenes.
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  • 1969
    Victoria Eugenie died in Lausanne on 15 April 1969, aged 81, exactly 38 years after she had left Spain for exile.
    More Details Hide Details She was interred in the church of Sacré Coeur in Lausanne. On 25 April 1985, her remains were returned to Spain and re-interred in the Royal Vault in the Escorial, outside Madrid, next to the remains of her husband, Alfonso XIII, and not far from her sons, Infante Alfonso, Infante Jaime, and Infante Gonzalo. Victoria Eugenie's great-grandson Felipe VI is the present King of Spain. Her godchildren include the Prince of Monaco, the late Queen Fabiola of the Belgians, and Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba. Victoria Eugenie's Cartier tiara of diamonds set with pearls (or alternatively with emeralds) was left to her daughter, Infanta Maria Cristina, Countess of Marone. It is now worn by the Queen of Spain. In addition, her Ansorena Fleur de Lis tiara given to her by Alfonso XIII at her wedding has become the most important tiara in the Spanish Royal collection and is worn by the Queen of Spain for important state occasions.
  • 1968
    Queen Victoria Eugenie returned briefly to Spain in February 1968, to stand as godmother at the baptism of her great-grandson, Infante Felipe, the son of Infante Juan Carlos and Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark.
    More Details Hide Details Felipe became King of Spain after his father's abdication in June 2014.
  • 1942
    In 1942 Queen Victoria Eugenie was obliged to leave Italy having become persona non grata to the Italian government, according to Harold Tittmann, a U.S. representative at the Vatican at the time, for her "ill-disguised leanings to the Allied cause."
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  • 1923
    In 1923, the Pope conferred upon her the Golden Rose which was the first time this honor had been awarded on a British-born princess since 1555 when Pope Julius III conferred one upon Queen Mary I of England.
    More Details Hide Details She was also granted the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert by her grandmother, Queen Victoria. The Queen was also awarded the Spanish Red Cross Merit Order (First Class) and the jewelled breast star was paid for by a subscription undertaken by the Corps of Lady Nurses of the Spanish Red Cross. The Spanish royal family went into exile on 14 April 1931 after municipal elections brought Republicans to power in most of the major cities, leading to the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. Alfonso XIII had hoped that his voluntary exile might avert a civil war between the Republicans and the Monarchists. The royal family went to live in France and later Italy. Victoria Eugenie and Alfonso later separated, and she lived partly in the UK and, after being invited to leave Britain by its government, in Switzerland. She purchased a chateau, the Vieille Fontaine, outside Lausanne.
  • 1920
    In 1920, she launched the Spanish Navy Cruiser Reina Victoria Eugenia which was named after her.
    More Details Hide Details She was the 976th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa.
  • 1912
    In 1912, the monumental opera house and theater "Teatro Victoria Eugenia" in San Sebastián, Spain, was named after her.
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  • 1909
    For instance, in 1909, Madrid's stately neoclassical bridge crossing the Manzanares River was named after her as the "Puente de la Reina Victoria".
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  • 1906
    Princess Victoria Eugenie married King Alfonso XIII at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid on 31 May 1906.
    More Details Hide Details Present at the ceremony were her widowed mother and brothers, as well as her cousins, the Prince and Princess of Wales. After the wedding ceremony, the royal procession was heading back to the Royal Palace when an assassination attempt was made on the King and Queen. When Anarchist Mateu Morral threw a bomb from a balcony at the royal carriage. Victoria Eugenie's life was saved because, at the exact moment the bomb exploded, she turned her head in order to see St. Mary's Church, which Alfonso was showing her. She escaped injury, although her dress was spotted with the blood of a guard who was riding beside the carriage. There exists a large statue in front of the Royal Monastery of San Geronimo dedicated to the victims of the bombing of May 31, 1906. After the inauspicious start to her tenure as Queen of Spain, Victoria Eugenie became isolated from the Spanish people and was unpopular in her new land. Her married life improved when she gave birth to a son and heir-apparent to the kingdom, Alfonso, Prince of Asturias. However, while the baby prince was being circumcised, the doctors noted that he did not stop bleeding — the first sign that the infant heir had haemophilia. Victoria Eugenie was the obvious source of the condition, which was inherited by her eldest and youngest sons. Contrary to the response of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, whose son and heir by another granddaughter of Queen Victoria was similarly afflicted, Alfonso is alleged never to have forgiven Victoria Eugenie nor to have come to terms with what had happened.
    The official reception of Victoria Eugenie into the Catholic faith took place on 5 March 1906 at Miramar Palace in San Sebastián.
    More Details Hide Details The terms of the marriage were settled by two agreements, a public treaty and a private contractual arrangement. The treaty was executed between Spain and the United Kingdom in London on 7 May 1906 by their respective plenipotentiaries, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, Don Luis Polo de Bernabé, and the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, Bt. Ratifications were exchanged on 23 May following. Among other conditions, the treaty stipulated: BE it known unto all men by these Presents that whereas His Catholic Majesty Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, has judged it proper to announce his intention of contracting a marriage with Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, niece of His Majesty Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, and daughter of Her Royal Highness the Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg) Article I. It is concluded and agreed that the marriage between His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII and Her said Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena shall be solemnized in person at Madrid as soon as the same may conveniently be done. II. His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII engages to secure to Her said Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena from the date of her marriage with His Majesty, and for the whole period of the marriage, an annual grant of 450,000 pesetas.
    After a year of rumours about which princess Alfonso would marry, his mother finally acceded to her son's selection in January 1906 and wrote a letter to Princess Henry of Battenberg, Victoria Eugenie's mother, telling her about the love Alfonso felt for her daughter and seeking unofficial contact with the king.
    More Details Hide Details Some days later at Windsor, King Edward congratulated his niece on her future engagement. Princess Beatrice and her daughter arrived in Biarritz on 22 January and stayed at the Villa Mauriscot where some days later King Alfonso met them. At the Villa Mauriscot, Alfonso and his future bride conducted a chaperoned, three-day romance. Then, Alfonso took Victoria Eugenie and her mother to San Sebastián to meet Queen Maria Cristina. On 3 February, the king left San Sebastian to go to Madrid and Victoria Eugenie and her mother went to Versailles where the Princess would be instructed in the Catholic faith: As the future Queen of Spain, she agreed to convert.
  • 1901
    After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Battenbergs moved to London and took up residence in Kensington Palace.
    More Details Hide Details In 1905, the King of Spain made an official state visit to the United Kingdom. Victoria Eugenie's uncle, King Edward VII, hosted a dinner in Buckingham Palace, in honour of the Spanish king. Alfonso was seated between Queen Alexandra and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, King Edward's sister. He noticed Victoria Eugenie and asked who was the dinner guest with almost white hair. Everybody knew that King Alfonso was looking for a suitable bride and one of the strongest candidates was Princess Patricia of Connaught, daughter of King Edward's brother, the Duke of Connaught. As Princess Patricia seemed not to be impressed by the Spanish monarch, Alfonso indulged his interest in Victoria Eugenie, and so the courtship began. When Alfonso returned to Spain he frequently sent postcards to Victoria Eugenie and spoke of her approvingly. His widowed mother, Queen Maria Cristina, did not like her son's choice, in part because she considered the Battenbergs non-royal because of the obscure origin of Prince Henry's mother, and in part because she wanted her son to marry within her own family, the Habsburgs from Austria. Another obstacle to a marriage was Victoria Eugenie's Protestantism (Alfonso was Roman Catholic; she was Anglican). Another potential problem was haemophilia, the disease that Victoria had transmitted to some of her descendants. Eugenie's brother Leopold was a haemophiliac, so there was a 50% probability that Victoria Eugenie would be a carrier, although the degree of risk was not yet known.
  • 1893
    She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her cousins, the Duke (later King George V) and Duchess of York on 6 July 1893.
    More Details Hide Details Her father died while on active military service after contracting fever in Africa in 1896.
  • 1887
    Victoria Eugenie was born on 24 October 1887 at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland.
    More Details Hide Details Her father was Prince Henry of Battenberg, the fourth child and third son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine by his morganatic wife Countess Julia Hauke, and her mother was Princess Beatrice, the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. As Prince Henry was the product of a morganatic marriage, he took his style of Prince of Battenberg from his mother, who had been created Princess of Battenberg in her own right. As such, Henry's children would normally have been born with the style "Serene Highness"; however, Queen Victoria had issued a Royal Warrant on 4 December 1886 granting the higher style of "Highness" to all sons and daughters of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice, thus she was born Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. She was named for her grandmother, and for her godmother, Empress Eugénie of the French, the Spanish-born widow of the former Emperor of the French Napoleon III, who lived in exile in the United Kingdom. To her family, and the British general public, she was known by the last of her names, as Ena.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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