No fewer than forty-two grandchildren of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, were born into royal, imperial and princely families across Europe, the result of a deliberate dynastic strategy to repair the ravages caused by the Napoleonic Wars and shore up constitutional monarchies against the threats of both autocracy and anarchist terrorism. Deborah Cadbury attributes Victoria’s motivation in pursuing this policy principally to Albert’s influence, but it had been fostered in her from an early age by her ambitious uncle Leopold (from 1830, king of the Belgians), who had also been responsible for promoting Albert of Saxe-Coburg as a potential husband. This book explores how seven of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren were elevated to the thrones of Europe at critical times in Europe’s history and the influence of her matchmaking on the future. The seven crowned heads were Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia, Queen Sophie of Greece, George V, Queen Maud of Norway, Alix (known as Alicky) of Hesse, who became empress of Russia, Queen Marie of Romania (known as Missy) and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain (known as Ena).
Short and dumpy – the huge waist size of her knickers has become legendary and the garments themselves are now eagerly collected – Victoria established herself as de facto queen of Europe and directed her homilies on virtue to grandchildren in all corners of the continent with unsolicited regularity. ‘Be