Digging deeper into Queen Victoria’s extensive brood, their intermarriages, and their wars.
Prince Albert’s great plan was to intermarry his children with European royal houses to spread the liberalism of England and prevent wars. That was not to be. World War I ended or fatally harmed the monarchies of most of Victoria’s grandchildren. The cousinhood proved to be more harmful than powerful. The great shifts in politics in the early 20th century and the clash of the poor and the wealthy gave rise to anarchists and increasing instances of assassination. BBC producer Cadbury (Princes at War: The Bitter Battle Inside Britain’s Royal Family in the Darkest Days of WWII, 2015, etc.) concentrates on Victoria’s attempts to find a suitable bride for Eddy, the Prince of Wales, pushing primarily German princesses. Victoria’s love of all things German accounts for her deep distrust and dislike of all things Russian, particularly after the assassination of Czar Alexander II. Equally important to Victoria were the marriages of her late daughter’s children. Her death left her mother feeling closer to her granddaughters than to her own children. She hoped to wed her favorite, Alix, to Eddy. At her sister’s wedding to Grand Duke Sergei in St. Petersburg, Alix met the czarevich, Nicholas, who captured her heart. Princess Victoria, the eldest daughter, was married to reformer Frederick II, German emperor and king of Prussia. Alas, his reign was desperately short, and he was succeeded by his bellicose, even maniacal son, Wilhelm II. Victoria’s final choice for Eddy’s wife, Mary of Teck, a rank outsider—she was not a royal—might have worked out, except Eddy died unexpectedly. In this enjoyable story for fans of royal machinations, Cadbury ably shows not just the successes, but also the damage inflicted by Victoria’s single-mindedness.
An instructive European history that effectively shows “the influence of [Victoria’s] matchmaking on the remarkable rise of the royal dynasty.”