The Princess Victoria, Princess Royal (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa) 21 November 1840 – 5 August 1901) was the eldest child and daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was created Princess Royal of the United Kingdom in 1841. She became German Empress and Queen of Prussia by marriage to German Emperor Frederick III. After her husband's death, she became widely known as Empress Frederick (or, in German: "Kaiserin Friedrich").
As a daughter of the sovereign, Victoria was automatically a British princess with the style Her Royal Highness, styled HRH The Princess Victoria (and in addition being heiress presumptive to the throne of the United Kingdom before the birth of her younger brother Prince Albert, later Edward VII on 9 November 1841). In 1841, the Queen created Victoria Princess Royal, giving her an honorary title sometimes conferred on the eldest daughter of the sovereign. Victoria was then styled HRH The Princess Royal. To her family she was known simply as Vicky.
The education of Victoria was closely supervised by her parents. She was precocious and intelligent, unlike her brother Albert Edward. She was taught to read and write before the age of five by her governess Lady Lyttelton and to speak French by her French nursery maid. The Princess Royal learned French and German from various governesses, and science, literature, Latin, and history from Sara Ann Hildyard. Prince Albert tutored her in politics and philosophy.
The Prussian Court and Buckingham Palace publicly announced the engagement on 19 May 1857. Seventeen-year-old Victoria married Frederick, at Queen Victoria's insistence, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, on 25 January 1858. The marriage was both a love match and a dynastic alliance. The Queen and Prince Albert hoped that Victoria's marriage to the future king of Prussia would cement close ties between London and Berlin, and possibly lead to the emergence of a unified and liberal Germany. At the time of their wedding, Londoners chanted "God save the Prince and Bride! God keep their lands allied!"
In January 1861, on the death of his childless uncle Frederick William IV of Prussia and the accession of his father as King William I, Prince Frederick became Crown Prince of Prussia, Victoria therefore became Crown Princess. The new Crown Prince and Crown Princess, however, were politically isolated; their liberal and Anglophile views clashed with the authoritarian rule of the Prussian minister-president, Otto von Bismarck. Unfortunately, despite their efforts to educate their son, Wilhelm, in British attitudes of democracy, he favoured his German tutors in aspiring to autocratic rule and thus became alienated from his parents, suspecting them of putting Britain's interests first.
During the three Wars of German Unification – the 1864 Prussian-Danish War, the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, and the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War – Victoria and Frederick strongly identified with the cause of Prussia and the North German Confederation. Their sympathies created a rift among Queen Victoria's extended family, since Victoria's younger brother, the Prince of Wales, was married to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the elder daughter of Christian IX of Denmark, who was also reigning duke of the disputed territories of Schleswig and Holstein. At Versailles on 18 January 1871, the victorious princes of the North German Confederation proclaimed a German Empire with King William I of Prussia as the hereditary German Emperor (Deutscher Kaiser) with the style Imperial and Royal Majesty (Kaiserliche und Königliche Majestät); Frederick and Victoria became German Crown Prince and German Crown Princess with the style Imperial and Royal Highness (Kaiserliche und Königliche Hoheit).
She was often known as Die Engländerin (the Englishwoman) due to her origins in the United Kingdom. Indeed, she continued to speak English in her German household.
The widowed Victoria lived in retirement at Castle Friedrichshof, a castle she had built in memory of her late husband in the hills near Kronberg not far from Frankfurt am Main. Politically, she remained a liberal in contrast with her son Emperor William II. Their relationship had earlier been difficult but improved once she was no longer in the limelight. In Berlin, Victoria established schools for the higher education of girls and for nurses' training. As a talented and gifted artist in her own right, she was a patron of the arts and learning, becoming one of the organizers of the 1872 Industrial Art Exhibition.
She maintained a regular correspondence with her mother. According to the Royal Encyclopaedia, some 3,777 letters from Queen Victoria to her eldest daughter have been catalogued, as well as more than 4,000 from daughter to mother. Many of her letters detailed her concern over Germany's future under her son. At her request – in which she made explicit her concern that the letters, which she had had sent back to herself at Kronberg, should not fall into the hands of her son William II and that he should not know what had happened to them – the letters were brought back to England in a cloak-and-dagger operation by Frederick Ponsonby, her godson, the private secretary of Edward VII, who was making his (Edward's) final visit to his terminally ill sister in Kronberg for a week up to 1 March 1901. These letters were later edited by Ponsonby and put into context by his background commentary to form the book that was published in 1928.
|William II, German Emperor||27 January 1859||4 June 1941|| married (1), 27 February 1881, Princess Auguste Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein; died 1921; had issue|
(2), 9 November 1922, Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, no issue
|Princess Charlotte||24 July 1860||1 October 1919||married, 18 February 1878, Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen; had issue|
|Prince Henry||14 August 1862||20 April 1929||married, 24 May 1888, his first cousin Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine; had issue|
|Prince Sigismund||15 September 1864||18 June 1866||died of meningitis at 21 months|
|Princess Victoria||12 April 1866||13 November 1929|| married (1), 19 November 1890, Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe; he died 1916; no issue|
(2), 19 November 1927, Alexander Zoubkov; no issue
|Prince Waldemar||10 February 1868||27 March 1879||died of diphtheria at age 11|
|Princess Sophie||14 June 1870||13 January 1932||married, 27 October 1889, Constantine I, King of the Hellenes; had issue|
|Princess Margaret||22 April 1872||22 January 1954||married, 25 January 1893, Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse; had issue|