Tea with Queen Victoria

A Victorian Tea Party is something of a cross between a formal sit-down function and a buffet because you are offering hors d'oeuvres-type finger foods in an elegant, seated environment.

The following are a few hosting tips you might want to consider for your Victorian Tea Party:

A centerpiece is not necessary since the tea service itself will provide a focal point. However, you may choose to enhance your table with a spray of roses or a delicate floral arrangement.

Be sure that any centerpiece is low enough to allow guests to easily see over and around.

Plan to have at least two of each type of hors d'oeuvres for each guest. Have places set for each guest. You need only set a minimum of cutlery and dishes, though. Set places with napkins, cups and saucers, dessert plates, dessert forks, tea spoons and butter knives.

Remember when placing cutlery that forks go on the left, spoons and knives on the right. Place knives with blades pointed toward the plate.

Because you will be serving finger foods, you may also set a finger bowl of warm water at each setting. Garnish with a lemon and sprig of mint or a tiny rosebud.

Etiquette was extremely important in every day life during the Victorian era.

Set the standard for your tea parties by dressing for the occasion. Find the most Victorian or Edwardian dress possible and save it just for these special afternoons. Pants at an afternoon tea would unthinkable. Also, you might want to wear a tiara! I have one that my husband bought for me, with a lovely note attached that read "Because you are the Queen of my heart." Ahhhh ...

Queen Victoria taking afternoon tea

Victorian Recipes

During Queen Victoria's 64-year reign, afternoon tea became a beloved English tradition. This simple, very pretty sponge cake, filled with a layer of jam and whipped cream, was one of the Queen's favorites.

Victoria Sponge

The Cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter / 3 large eggs, room temperature / 1 tablespoon milk, room temperature / 2/3 cup sugar / 1 cup all-purpose flour / 1 teaspoon baking powder / Salt / Confectioner's sugar

The Filling:

1 cup heavy cream / 5 tablespoons strawberry or raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (7-inch) round cake pans. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.

In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Add sugar and beat hard until thoroughly combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, then fold gently into egg mixture. Stir in melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon just until the butter is thoroughly incorporated into the batter.

Divide batter between the 2 prepared pans. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cakes have risen and turned golden. They should spring back when pressed lightly with a finger.

Remove from oven. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before filling.

Choose one of the cakes as the bottom layer. If necessary, trim the top with a knife so it is flat.

Whip the cream until stiff. Spread top of bottom cake layer with jam. Spread a layer of whipped cream on top of jam. Place second cake flat-side down on top of filling.

To decorate, place a 7-inch doily on cake top and lightly sift confectioner's sugar over it. Carefully remove doily, leaving a lacye-like pattern on cake. If strawberries are available, an alternative decoration is to pipe a ring of whipped cream rosettes around cake, setting a single lush strawberry in the center of each rosette. Cut in wedges to serve.

Queen Victoria Mushroom Pate

2 small onion, finely chopped / 4 tablespoons butter / 1 pound fresh mushrooms, finely chopped / 3 tablespoons lemon juice / 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce / 1 teaspoon salt / Dash pepper / 4 tablespoons mayonnaise

Saute onions in butter until soft. Add mushrooms and stir. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until liquids evaporate, about 10 or 15 minutes. Be sure mixture does not brown. Cool, then add mayonnaise to moisten. Chill well. Serve with crackers.

Coronation Chicken

4-1/2 to 5lbs chicken / 2 onions / 1 carrot / 1/2 oz butter / 1/2 to 1 tablespoon curry paste / 1 tablespoon tomato puree / 1/2 cup red wine / 1 lemon / 1-1/4 cups mayonnaise / 1/2 cup cream / 1 tablespoon apricot jam / 1 bay leaf / Salt and ground peper to taste / 2 sprigs of watercress

Select a saucepan in which the chicken will fit. Cut the lemon in half and stuff into the chicken cavity. Place the chicken into the saucepan and add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Fill the saucepan with water until it covers two-thirds of the chicken and then bring to the boil. Cover and cook chicken for 1-1/2 hours, until the juices run clear.

Once the chicken is cooked, transfer to a large bowl and cover with the liquid from the saucepan. Once the chicken has cooled, skin and bone the chicken. Then cut into small pieces.

The sauce is made by quartering the onion and frying in some butter until it's softened. Then add the tomato puree, wine, bayleaf, curry paste and lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes. Add the jam and sieve the sauce. Allow to cool.

Beat the mayonnaise into the sauce and fold in the cream. Squeeze the lemon juice from the remaining lemon half and stir in the chicken. Garnish with a sprig of watercress.

Creating Your Guest List

Making a guest list can become an art. There are many things to consider when creating the prefect guest lists. This is a special event, and not conducive to inviting the routine friends and family that you would invite if you were having, say, a birthday party.

The most inportant thing to remember is that you will need a good mix of ladies. Some with strong characters that blend well with others. Definitely a few who can carry a good converstion and others who are gifted at listening.

Everyone does not neccessarily have to share common interests. It is fine to have ladies from various circle, but they should at least all share the common thread of similar lifestyles. Others can be added to the list of attendees once you see how well your mix is going. And do not be surprised if you soon discover that even those who at first appeared to be a strange choice just might have more in common with the others that you have dreamed possible!

Just For Fun ...

Let's say you are hosting an afternoon Tea and can invite any 6 famous (or infamous) people. Who would you ask? From the title of my page, you have probably already guessed whose names might appear on my guest list!

I would most definitely choose to have a Tea with Queen Victoria. How on earth could it be truly Victorian without the one who lent her name to an entire era!? So with Her Royal Highness comfortably ensconsed at my table, let's see who else has been invited.

The first person who would be shown in, would have to be my sister, Lady Linda, because I have shared everything with her for my entire life. I can not imagine having such an important event as this Tea without her there by my side as co-hostess.

And along with Her Majesty, the Queen, I would select some of the ladies from her family who I love and respect the most: three of her granddaughters (Alex, Ella and Marie), a daughter-in-law (son Edward's Queen Consort, Alexandra) and a future Queen (the present Duchess of Cornwall). Counting myself and my sister, that makes a total of eight ladies at my Tea ... a perfect number, and a perfect day! With all of this Royalty, no wonder this would be called a Royal-Tea!

Please read more about each of these lovely ladies ...

Queen Victoria

Alexandrina Victoria, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg (sister of King Leopold of Belgium), was born at Kensington Palace, London, on May 24, 1819. Her father died when she was eight months old. he Duke and Duchess of Kent selected the name Victoria but her uncle, George IV, insisted that she be named Alexandrina after her godfather, Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Although christened Alexandrina Victoria - and from birth formally styled Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria of Kent, Victoria was called Drina within the family.

On the death of George IV in 1830, his brother William IV became king. William had no surviving children and so Victoria became his heir. William IV died 27 days after Victoria's eighteenth birthday, and she became queen. Queen Victoria is associated with Britain's great age of industrial expansion and economic progress. At her death, it was said that Britain had a worldwide empire on which the sun never set.

Warmhearted and lively, Victoria had a gift for drawing and painting; educated by a governess at home, she was a natural diarist and kept a regular journal throughout her life.

Princess Victoria met her future husband, her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his father was her mother's brother, Ernst), when she was just 16 years old in 1836. But it was not until a second meeting in London in 1839 that she fell in love with him. She said, " ... dear Albert! He is so sensible, so kind and so good, and so amiable, too. He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance you can possibly see." As a monarch, Victoria had to propose to him. Their marriage proved to be very happy. The couple were married in February 1840. She was thoroughly devoted to him and completely submitted to his will. Victoria did nothing without her husband's approval.


Albert took an active interest in the arts, science, trade and industry; the project for which he is best remembered was the Great Exhibition of 1851, the profits from which helped to establish the South Kensington museums complex in London.

Her marriage to Prince Albert brought nine children between 1840 and 1857. Most of her children married into other Royal families of Europe.

In 1859: Leopold, Louise, Queen, Arthur, Alice, Vicky. Beatrice, Albert, Helena

Edward VII (born 1841), married Alexandra, daughter of Christian IX of Denmark. Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born 1844) married Marie of Russia. Arthur, Duke of Connaught (born 1850) married Louise Margaret of Prussia. Leopold, Duke of Albany (born 1853) married Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont.

Victoria, Princess Royal (born 1840) married Friedrich III, German Emperor. Alice (born 1843) married Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. Helena (born 1846) married Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Louise (born 1848) married John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll. Beatrice (born 1857) married Henry of Battenberg.

Leopold, Louise, Alice (sitting) holding Beatrice, Bertie, Arthur, Vicky, Affie, Helena

Victoria bought Osborne House (later presented to the nation by Edward VII) on the Isle of Wight as a family home in 1845, and Albert bought Balmoral in 1852.

Victoria was deeply attached to her husband and she sank into depression after he died at age 42 of typhoid fever on December 14, 1861 at Windsor Castle. She had lost a devoted husband and her principal trusted adviser in affairs of state. Victoria went into self-imposed seclusion for more than 25 years, not emerging until the Golden Jubilee of 1887, the celebration of her fiftieth year on the throne. An entire generation was raised without ever having seen the face of their Queen. The Golden Jubilee brought her out of her shell and she again embraced public life. but for the rest of her life she wore black.

Victoria continued to carry out her constitutional duties such as reading all diplomatic despatches. However, she completely withdrew from public view and now spent most of her time in the Scottish Highlands at her home at Balmoral Castle.

In her later years, she almost became the symbol of the British Empire. Both the Golden (1887) and the Diamond (1897) Jubilees, held to celebrate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the queen's accession, were marked with great displays and public ceremonies. On both occasions, Colonial Conferences attended by the Prime Ministers of the self-governing colonies were held.

Despite her advanced age, Victoria continued her duties to the end - including an official visit to Dublin in 1900. The Boer War in South Africa overshadowed the end of her reign. As in the Crimean War nearly half a century earlier, Victoria reviewed her troops and visited hospitals; she remained undaunted by British reverses during the campaign: "We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist."

Following a custom she maintained throughout her widowhood, Victoria spent Christmas 1900 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She died there from a cerebral haemorrhage on January 22, 1901, at the age of 81. At her deathbed, she was attended by her son, the future King and her oldest grandson, German Emperor William II. As she had wished, her own sons lifted her into the coffin. She was dressed in a white dress and her wedding veil. Since Victoria disliked black funerals, London was instead decorated in purple and white. Her funeral was held on February 22, and after two days of lying-in-state, she was interred beside Prince Albert in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park, which she had built for their final resting place. Above the Mausoleum door are inscribed Victoria's words: "farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again."

Her reign had lasted almost 64 years, the longest in British history. An entire era died with her.


Alix ... Tsarina Alexandra

Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die,
and there will I be buried.

~Ruth I. 16, 17.

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, born Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine on June 7, 1872, was Empress consort of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of the Russian Empire. A granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, she assumed the name Alexandra Feodorovna upon blessing into the Russian Orthodox Church, which canonised her as Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer in 2000. Alexandra is best remembered as the last Tsarina of Russia.

She was born Princess Viktoria Alix Helena Luise Beatrice in Darmstadt, Hesse and by Rhine, a Grand Duchy that was then part of the German Empire. Her father was Grand Duke Louis IV, and her mother was the former Princess Alice, the second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Alex was baptized on July 1, 1872 according to the rites of the Lutheran Church and given the names of her mother and each of her mother's four sisters, some of which were transliterated into German. the Prince and Princess of Wales (King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), the Tsarevich (Alexander III) and Tsarevna (Princess Alex's future parents-in-law), Princess Beatrice of Great Britain, the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Landgravine of Hesse.

Princess Alex used to say, in after years, that her earliest recollections were of an unclouded, happy babyhood, of perpetual sunshine, then of a great cloud. When little Alix was just six, her mother, Princess Alice, died at the age of thirty-five when diptheria swept through the tiny duchy of Hesse (the disease had also taken the life of Alex's younger sister, Mae, shortly before. Princess Alix became very close to her maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria. As a result, Alex spent many of her early years in the United Kingdom and frequently stayed with her British relatives at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. As a little girl, she was called Sunny. But after the loss of her mother and younger sister, she became more sullen and withdrawn.

In the spring of 1884, the family went to St. Petersburg for the marriage of Alix's sister, Princess Ella, to Grand Duke Serge (brother of Tsar Alexander III). Soon afterwards in Peterhof, she met her future husband, the Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich for the first time. His mother Dagmar (known as Minnie) was the sister-in-law of Alix's uncle, the Prince of Wales. Though she was only twelve years old, they would later say that it had been love at first site for each of them.

In 1888, Prince Ernest Louis and Princess Alix again went to Russia. The Grand Duchess Serge (Ella) had won all hearts both in the Imperial Family and in St. Petersburg society, and all her friends were delighted to welcome her sister and brother. The Tsarevich Nicholas used often to come informally to see his young aunt, "Tetinka" (Little Aunt), as he jokingly called her. The Grand Duchess loved dancing and organized all kinds of entertainments, so that her house was very attractive to her young relations.

The Tsarevich came more often to the Serge Palace when the Princes of Hesse were there. He had taken a strong liking to Prince Ernest Louis, whom he had to entertain as a foreign guest, and he was greatly attracted by his young aunt's shy little sister. On her side, Princess Alix had quickly fallen in love with the Tsarevich. She hid it carefully, and at first, indeed, did not realise it herself.

There was much entertaining at Court and in St. Petersburg that winter. There were many balls, to which the Grand Duchess took her sister, who danced more than ever again in her life. There were concert balls at the Winter Palace, and the Grand Duchess often took her family to the Opera and ballet. Afternoons were spent at the fashionable skating-grounds in the Jardin de la Tauride, where Prince Ernest Louis and Princess Alix with the Tsarevich, his brother, the Grand Duke George and the Grand Duchess Xenia skated or tobogganed down the ice-hills, with the younger members of St. Petersburg society. Princess Alix enjoyed everything. It was only on her return to Darmstadt that she felt that she had left her heart in Russia.

Many princes came to call during the next few years, but no one had succeeded in touching the heart of Princess Alix. She was always faithful to the Tsarevich. Nicholas wrote in his diary, "It is my dream to one day marry Alix H. I have loved her for a long time." But she knew that the wife of the heir to Russia had to be of the Orthodox faith, and to her the religious question then seemed an insurmountable obstacle. They did not meet between 1889 and 1894, though they corresponded, and exchanged small gifts, and the Tsarevich heard much of Princess Alix from the Grand Duchess Serge. Both she and the Grand Duke had always wished for the marriage, and she naturally rejoiced at the idea of having her sister in Russia. She guessed Princess Alix's romance, and saw the charm that she had for the Tsarevich. Russia had quickly attracted the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, as she was now called. She loved the country and the people. She had made many friends and was very popular. Her husband not being in the direct succession, she could have retained the Lutheran faith, but the Orthodox Church appealed to her, and of her own free will - her husband never attempted to influence her - she became Orthodox in 1891. She did not, therefore, see the religious question as an impediment.

In the autumn of 1893 the Grand Duke of Hesse became engaged to his first cousin, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg (a daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh). She went to Coburg for the Grand Duke's wedding. At the last moment the news came of the Tsarevich's unexpected arrival. They met, and he convinced her that she could reconcile her religious beliefs with his. Love conquered (she eventually became a fervent convert), and on April 20th, 1894, Princess Alix of Hesse and the Tsarevich Nicholas were engaged.

The Tsarevich's simple, engaging manner endeared him to those of the Princess's relations who had not yet met him. Physically he was very much like his cousin, the Duke of York (King George V), and this produced many amusing mistakes. When the Tsarevich was in England for the Duke's wedding in 1893, many of the guests at a garden party shook him warmly by the hand, with congratulations, taking him for his cousin the bridegroom.

Alexander III died on November 1, 1894 and Nicholas became Tsar of all the Russias at the age of twenty-six. The marriage was not delayed. Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna (who became Empress of Russia on her wedding day) were married in the Chapel of the Winter Palace of Saint Petersburg on November 14, 1894. The marriage that began that night remained unflawed for the rest of their lives. It was a Victorian marriage, outwardly serene and propor, but based on intensely passionate physical love.

Alexandra wrote in her diary: Never did I believe there could be such utter happiness in the world-such a feeling of unity between two mortal beings. No more separations. At last united, bound for life, and when this life is ended we meet again in the other world and remain together for Eternity.

Soon Nicholas and Alexandra began their beautiful and ever-growning family, Alexandra was (like her husband) very focused on family. Almost one year after her marriage to the Tsar, Alexandra gave birth to the couple's first child: a girl, named Olga, was born on November 15, 1895. Olga could not be the heir as only a male could succeed to the Russiana throne. Olga was well-loved by her young parents. Three more girls followed Olga: Tatiana on June 10, 1897, Maria on June 26, 1899 and Anastasia on June 18, 1901. Three more years passed before the Empress gave birth to the long-awaited heir. Alexei Nikolaevich was born in Peterhof on August 12, 1904. To his parents dismay, Alexei was born with hemophilia an incurable bleeding disease passed down through the daughters of England's Royal Family.

Olga was most like her father. Shy and subdued, she impressed people with her kindness, her innocence and the strength of her private feelings. Second daughter Tatiana surrounded her mother with unwearying attention. During the family's final months, Tatiana helped her mother move from place to place, pushing her about the house in a wheelchair. The next daughter Marie liked to talk about marriage and children. The Tsar thought she would make some man an excellent wife. Marie was considered the angel of the family. Anastasia, the youngest and most famous daughter, was called 'the imp.' She was a tomboy who loved climbing trees.

Alexandra doted on Alexei. The children's tutor, Pierre Gilliard wrote, "Alexis was the centre of a united family, the focus of all its hopes and affections. His sisters worshipped him. He was his parents' pride and joy. When he was well, the palace was transformed. Everyone and everything in it seemed bathed in sunshine."

Having to live with the knowledge that she had given him the bleeding disease, Alexandra was obsessed with protecting her son; she kept a close eye on him at all time, especially during his nearly fatal attacks. Alexandra spoiled her only son and let him have his way. She seemed to pay more attention to him that any of her four daughters. When Alexei's illness was finally announced to the public in 1912, Alexandra became an unpopular figure with her people. Her German background during Great War only made this hatred grow.

At first Alexandra turned to Russian doctors to treat Alexei. Their treatments generally failed as there was no known cure. Burdened with the knowledge that any fall or cut could actually kill her son, Alexandra turned toward God for comfort, to the Orthodox rituals and saints, and spent hours praying in her private chapel for deliverance.

The Empress's character was very complex. Love for her husband and children was its dominant trait. She was an ideal wife and mother. She was a very womanly woman. Her intellect was always subordinate to her heart. In her dealings with other people, her idealism often made her find in them the good that her own nature led her to expect. Her inherent shyness, which she was never able to conquer, was misunderstood and considered pride. She never acquired the easy outward manner and ready smile that win the hearts of the public, and her modesty kept her from fighting for the popularity that she so ardently desired at heart. At the same time, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was full of true dignity, and on official occasions could be more impressive than Nicholas II, who had wonderful simplicity and an almost homely manner, inherited from his mother, the Empress Marie.

She was the centre of the life of her husband and children. All her thoughts were for them, and they looked to her for sympathy in all their doings. She was an ideal wife and an ideal mother. She shared her children's joys - and sorrows, and entered into all their games and interests with real enthusiasm. the Empress did not want her children to have a regular governess. She did not like the idea of a stranger coming between herself and her children. The Empress really brought up her daughters herself, and her work was well done. It is not possible to imagine more charming, pure girls.

The Emperor Nicholas and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna were everything to each other, and their devotion lasted all their lives. Their natures were very different, but they had grown into harmony with each other till they had reached that perfection of understanding in which the tastes and habits of the one are a development and continuation of those of the other. She was always ready with a welcoming smile whenever he came into the room. She loved him passionately, even fanatically, and had boundless admiration for his wonderful gentleness, self-denial, patience and sense of duty.

She came to Russia with high ideals about duty. She worked incessantly to improve the conditions of the poorer classes, founding schools and hospitals. All she did in this respect for Russia has never been told and has, since the Revolution, been consistently ignored by all those who have written about her. The Empress adored Russia and the Russian people. No sacrifice could be too great for Russia.

Towards the end the selflessness and spiritual serenity of the Empress grew daily, and are seen in the courage and the nobility with which she bore, without a murmur, the long martyrdom of seventeen months' unceasing humiliation. Her hunger and thirst were for righteousness. At the last, in her Christian submission to the Divine will, she must have found the Truth she sought, and it was the supreme mercy that sent her the fulfilment of the prayer of Ruth and left her with her husband.

In 2000 Alexandra was canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church together with her husband Nicholas II, and their children.

Ella ... Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna

The brightest star in the celestial array of Russians Martyrs is that Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth. She was like a sun whose penetrating rays warm hearts grown cold and renew the lost faith of a falling and despairing humanity, as if to say that there are still tose servants of love whose example points the way to the true path of happiness, both on this earth and for all eternity. Love was the cornerstone of her life. This love made easy for her what was difficult. It made serving her fellow man a pleasure. And through it, the forgiveness of enemies was made possible.

It was said of her, "She was a rare combination of exalted Christian spirit, moral nobility, enlightened mind, gentle heart and refined taste." She possessed an extremely delicate and multifaced spiritual composition, and her outward appearance reflected teh beauty and greatness of her spirit. And elevated dignity set her apart from those around her. Perhaps she so loved the color white because it was the reflection of her heart.

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia was a German princess of the House of Hesse, and the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, fifth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and the Rhine. An older sister of Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Russian empress, Elizabeth became famous in Russian society for her beauty, charm and good works among the poor.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Louise Alice of Hesse and the Rhine on November 1, 1864. She was the second child of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and the Rhine and British Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. Elizabeth was also called "Ella" within her family.

Though she came from one of the oldest and noblest houses in Germany, Elizabeth and her family lived a rather modest life by royal standards. The children swept the floors and cleaned their own rooms, while their mother sewed dresses herself for the children. In the winter of 1878, diphtheria swept through the Hesse household, killing Elizabeth's youngest sister, Marie (May), as well as her mother. Elizabeth had been sent away to her paternal grandmother's home at the beginning of the outbreak, and was the only member of her family to remain unafflicted.

The Princess Elizabeth Ella was a very pretty girl, tall and fair, with regular features. She was the personification of unselfishness, always ready to do anything in order to give pleasure to others. She was cheerful, with a strong sense of humour, and as a child always the peacemaker in nursery and schoolroom, a favorite with all her siblings, and a link between them.

Charming and with a very accommodating personality, Elizabeth was considered by many historians and contemporaries to be one of the most beautiful women in Europe at that time. As a young woman, she caught the eye of her elder cousin, the future Emperor William II of Germany. He was a student then at Bonn University, and on weekends he often visited his Aunt Alice and his Hessian relatives. During these frequent visits he fell in love with Elizabeth, writing numerous love poems and regularly sending them to her. Flattered as she may have been by his attentions, Elizabeth was not attracted to William. She politely rejected him, and his resulting frustration caused him to give up his studies and return to Berlin.

Charming and with a very accommodating personality, Elizabeth was considered by many historians and contemporaries to be one of the most beautiful women in Europe at that time. As a young woman, she caught the eye of her elder cousin, the future Emperor William II of Germany. During these frequent visits to his Hessian relatives, he fell in love with Elizabeth, writing numerous love poems and regularly sending them to her. Flattered as she may have been by his attentions, Elizabeth was not attracted to William. She politely rejected him, and his resulting frustration caused him to give up his studies and return to Berlin.

Other admirers included Prince Felix Yussupov, who considered her a second mother and stated in his memoirs that she helped him greatly during the most difficult moments of his life. As a young girl, Queen Marie of Romania was very fascinated with her Cousin Ella, and would later describe her beauty and sweetness in her memoirs as "a thing of dreams."

But it was a Russian grand duke who ultimately won Elizabeth's heart. Elizabeth's great-aunt, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, was a frequent visitor to Hesse. During these visits she was usually accompanied by her youngest sons, Sergei and Paul. Elizabeth had known the boys since they were children, and she initially viewed them as haughty and reserved. Sergei especially was a very serious young man, intensely religious, and he found himself attracted to Elizabeth after seeing her as a young woman for the first time in several years.

At first, Sergei made little impression on Elizabeth. But after the death of both of Sergei's parents within the same year, the shock of his loss caused Elizabeth to gradually see Sergei in a new light. She had felt this same grief after the death of her mother, and their other similarities (both were artistic and religious) began to draw them closer together. It was said that Sergei was especially attached to Elizabeth because she had the same character as his beloved mother. So when Sergei proposed to her for the second time, she accepted.

Sergei and Elizabeth married on June 15, 1884, at the Chapel of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. She became Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna. The new grand duchess made a good first impression on her husband's family and the Russian people. Everyone fell in love with her from the moment she came to Russia from her beloved Darmstadt wrote one of Sergei's cousins. The couple settled in the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace in St. Petersburg; after Sergei was appointed Governor-General of Moscow in 1892, they resided in one of the Kremlin palaces. During the summer, they stayed at Il'yinskoe, an estate outside Moscow that Sergei had inherited from his mother.

The Grand Duke Serge was much liked by his wife's family. He was a real grand seigneur, of high culture, artistic temperament and intellectual pursuits, though a certain shyness made him seem outwardly stiff and unresponsive. He took a great liking to little Princess Alex, whom he very much admired. He used to tease her unmercifully, and often reduced her to a state of blushing confusion, which she really rather enjoyed.

The couple never had children of their own, but their Il'yinskoye estate was usually filled with parties that Elizabeth organized especially for children. They eventually became the foster parents of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Sergei's niece and nephew.

Il'yinskoye was a real Russian country-house, like those described by Turgenyev in his novels. The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess Serge lived a simple country life, with the ladies and gentlemen of their court, and a few personal friends invited for prolonged visits, in the Russian fashion. The Grand Duchess loved it all dearly. She was interested in the village people and enjoyed being a "lady bountiful." The typically Russian surroundings, the wide expanse of flat meadows, the immense horizons, the vast pine forests, the grey birches of her garden, attracted her more and more.

Although Elizabeth was not legally required to convert to Russian Orthodoxy from her native Lutheran religion, she voluntarily chose to do so in 1891. Although some members of her family questioned her motives, her conversion was sincere.

On February 18, 1905, Sergei was assassinated in the Kremlin by a Socialist-Revolutionary, Ivan Kalyayev. The unfortunate Grand Duchess was busy in her workroom at the Kremlin when the sound of the explosion reached her. She had an intuition that something had happened, rushed out, and saw the most terrible sight that a wife's eyes ever saw. The event came as a terrible shock to Elizabeth, but she never lost her calm. Her niece Marie later recalled that her Aunt's face was pale and stricken rigid and she would never forget her expression of infinite sadness. In her rooms, said Marie, Elizabeth let herself fall weakly into an armchair ... her eyes dry and with the same peculiar fixity of gaze, she looked straight into space, and said nothing. As visitors came and went, she looked without ever seeming to see them. Throughout the day of her husband's murder, Elizabeth refused to cry. But Marie recalled how her aunt slowly abandoned her rigid self-control, finally breaking down into sobs.

Elizabeth personally visited Kalyayev in his jail cell, asking him to consider the gravity of his deed and repent. She hoped to soften his heart and win his soul to the Lord before his execution. Later, she asked her nephew/brother-in-law, Tsar Nicholas II, to forgive her husband's assassin, but the revolutionary refused to accept a pardon and was hanged on May 23, 1905.

After Sergei's death, Elizabeth wore mourning clothes and became a vegetarian. In 1909, she gave away her magnificent collection of jewels and sold her other luxurious possessions. With the proceeds she opened the Convent of Sts. Martha and Mary and became its abbess. She soon opened a hospital, a chapel, a pharmacy and an orphanage on its grounds. Elizabeth and her nuns worked tirelessly among and the poor and the sick of Moscow. She often visited Moscow's worst slums and did all she could to help alleviate the suffering of the poor. Without Serge, she could never join in the life of the world again, and afterwards lived only for the poor and suffering.

She continued to live in the Community, to nurse the soldiers in her hospital and to give free meals to the poorest people - in short, she made no change in her life, except that she redoubled the fervour of her prayers. She lived with calm and serenity, giving herself up entirely to the will of God. At the moment when Bolshevism was let loose, in April 1918, she wrote to an old friend as follows:

"One must fix one's thoughts on the heavenly country in order to see things in their true light, and to be able to say 'Thy will be done,' when one sees the complete destruction of our beloved Russia. Remember that Holy Russia, the Orthodox Church "against whom the Gates of Hell shall not prevail," still exists, and will always exist. Those who can believe this without a doubt will see the inner light shining through the darkness in the midst of the storm. I am not exaltee, dear friend, I am only certain that the God who chastises is the same God who loves. I have been reading the Bible a good deal lately, and if we believe in the sublime sacrifice of God the Father in sending His Son to die and rise again for us, we shall feel the Holy Spirit lighting our way, and our joy will become eternal, even if our poor human hearts and earthly minds pass through moments which seem terrible. Think of a storm; there are some things sublime in it, some things terrifying; some are afraid to take shelter, some are killed by it, and some have their eyes opened to the greatness of God; is not this a true picture of the present times? We work, we pray, we hope and each day we feel more and more the divine compassion. It is a constant miracle that we are alive. Others are beginning to feel the same, and they come to our Church to seek rest for their souls. Pray for us, dear heart. Always your old and faithful friend."

In 1918, Lenin ordered the notorious Cheka to arrest Elizabeth. They then exiled her first to Perm, then to Yekaterinburg, where she spent a few days and was joined by others: the Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich Romanov, Princes Ioann Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich and Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, Grand Duke Sergei's secretary, Fyodor Remez and Varvara Yakovleva, a sister from the Grand Duchess's convent. They were all taken to Alapaevsk on May 20, 1918, where they were housed in the Napolnaya School on the outskirts of the town.

At noon on July 17th, Cheka officer Petr Startsev and a few Bolshevik workers came to the school. They took from the prisoners whatever money they had left and announced that they would be transferred that night to the Upper Siniachikhensky factory compound. The Red Army guards were told to leave and Cheka men replaced them. That night the prisoners were woken and driven in carts on a road leading to the village of Siniachikha. The Cheka beat all the prisoners before throwing their victims into an abandoned iron mine with a pit, Elizabeth being the first. Hand grenades were then hurled down the shaft, but only one victim, Feodor Remez, died as a result of the grenades.

According to the personal account of one of their murderers, Elizabeth and the others survived the initial fall into the mine, prompting a grenade to be thrown in after them. Following the explosion, he claimed to hear Elizabeth and the others singing a Russian hymn from the bottom of the shaft. Then came a second grenade, but the singing continued. Finally a large quantity of brushwood was shoved into the opening and set alight.

On October 8, 1918, the White Army discovered the remains of Elizabeth and her companions, still within the shaft where they had been murdered. Elizabeth had died of wounds sustained in her fall into the mine, but had still found strength to bandage the head of the dying Prince Ioann. Her remains were removed and ultimately taken to Jerusalem, where they lie today in the Church of Maria Magdalene.

Ella once wrote, "Always be guided by your heart rather than your head, and your life will be transformed. Happiness does not consist in living in a palace or enjoying a large fortune. True happiness is something that neither men nor women nor events can take away from you. You find it in faith, in hope and in charity. Try to make those around you happy, and you will be happy yourself."

Elizabeth was canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and by the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia in 1992 as New-Martyr Elizabeth. Her principal shrine is the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent she founded in Moscow. She is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.

A statue of Elizabeth was erected in the garden of her convent after the fall of Communism in Russia. Its inscription reads: "To the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna: With Repentance."

Marie of Edinburgh ... Queen Marie of Romania

When looking for an example of beauty, charm, graciousness and sterling character, I can find it embodied within one of my ultimate inspirations ... Queen Marie of ROmania.

Princess Marie Alexandra Victoria of Edinburgh was born on October 29, 1875, at Eastwell Park in Kent, the second child and eldest daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Her father was the second-eldest son of Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Her mother was the only surviving daughter of Alexander II of Russia and Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse. She was baptised in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle on December 15, 1875 and her godparents were the Empress and Tsarevitch of Russia, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Princess of Wales and the Duke of Connaught. As her father was in the Royal Navy she spent much of her time abroad, particularly in Malta. Within the family, she was called Missy. The most important person for Missy during her childhood was her younger sister Victoria Melita, known as Ducky, to whom she was very attached. Altough being born a year later than Missy, Ducky was taller so she looked older than her sister. Ducky's hair and eyes were dark, in contrast with Missy, whose hair was blonde and had pale blue eyes, and she (Missy) was recognized as the beauty of the family. The Edimburgh sisters used to pay constant visits to their grandmother, Queen Victoria. The Duchess of Edimburgh took her children to Russia as often as she could. Personally, Missy prefered the most cheerful Russian court to the severity of the British Victorian.

The Edinburgh Sisters: Beatrice, Ducky, Alexandra and Marie

In her youth, Princess Marie was considered a suitable match for marriage to the royalty of Europe. Her first cousin, Prince George of Wales, later King George V, fell in love with her and proposed marriage. Both Marie's father and George's father approved of the marriage. However, Marie's mother felt deep disdain for the British Royal Family, and was keen to see her daughters marry outside its Court.

At the begining of 1892, George's eldest brother, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, died, and he (George) became the second in the line of succesion to the British throne. His parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales made a formal marriage proposal in his name to Missy's parents, but the Duchess of Edinburgh rejected it immediately, arguing that her daughter had just been confirmed in the German Lutheran faith and she was not able to leave it to enter the Anglican Church. George wrote Missy a letter telling her that he had hoped that when she was old enough they would get married. Missy answered, under her mother's supervision, that altough she was fond of him, there was nothing defined in the friendship that had sprang out in Malta. On her autobigraphy, Queen Maria would later wrote that it was impossible for a young princess to make a choice of herself in those years. Later on, when she met her cousin George, she confessed she felt sad and she remembered the days they spent together.

In 1893, a few months before her father became Duke of Coburg-Gotha, Princess Marie married Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, nephew of King Carol I of Romania. The marriage, which produced three daughters and three sons: Carol II (1893-1953), Elisabeth (1894-1956), Mignon. (1900-1961), Nicholas (1903-1978), Ileana (1909-1991) and Mircea (1913-1916).

But the marriage was not a happy one. Her correspondence with her longtime secret confidante, the American dancer Loie Fuller, revealed "the distaste, which grew to revulsion" that Marie felt for her husband.

In 1914, Carol I died and Ferdinand ascended the throne of Romania. Crown Princess Marie then became styled Her Majesty Queen Marie of Romania. Due to World War I, they were not crowned as monarchs until 1922.

Marie had become a Romanian patriot, and her influence in that country was large. A.L. Easterman writes that King Ferdinand was "a quiet, easy-going man, of no significant character it was not he, but Marie who ruled in Romania." He credits Marie's sympathies for the Allies as being "the major influence in bringing her country to their side" in the war.

During the war she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse to help the sick and wounded and wrote a book, My Country to raise funds for the Red Cross. But these were by no means her most notable contributions to the war effort. In 1917, with the country half-overrun by the German army, she and a group of military advisers devised the plan by which the Romanian army, rather than retreating into Russia, would choose a triangle of the country in which to stand and fight.

Queen Marie with daughter Mignon

After the war ended, the Great Powers decided to settle affairs at Versailles. The Romanian objective was to regain its territories from the now-defunct Austria-Hungary and also from Russia, thereby uniting all Romanian-speakers in a single state. With the Romanian delegation losing ground in the negotiations, Prime Minister Ion Bratianu called upon the Queen to travel to France. Marie famously declared that "Romania needs a face, and I will be that face." The arrival of the so-called Soldier Queen was an international media sensation and she argued passionately that the Western powers should honour their debt to Romania (which had suffered a casualty rate proportionately far greater than Britain, France or the USA). Behind the scenes, she alternately charmed and bullied the Allied leaders into backing the Romanian cause. As a direct result of her charismatic intervention, Romania won back the initiative and successfully achieved all its pre-conference aims, eventually expanding its territory by 40%, gaining Transylvania, Bessarabia as well as parts of Bukovina and the Banat.

Ferdinand and Marie's son, the Crown Prince Carol (later King Carol II), was never close to his father. By the time Carol was an adult, their antagonism became open. But there continued to be a "deep bond of affection and sympathy" between Carol and Marie. Their relationship, however, deteriorated. The initial conflict came over Carol's objections to Marie's Marie attempted to steer Carol toward a dynastic marriage rather than allow him to choose his own bride. During Carol's exile in Paris, Loie Fuller had befriended Carol and his mistress Magda Lupescu; they were unaware of Fuller's connection to Marie. Fuller initially advocated to Marie on their behalf, but later schemed unsuccessfully with Marie to separate Carol from Lupescu. Eventually, when Carol became King and did not seek her counsel, the breach between mother and son became complete.

A true "lady" in every sense of the word, Marie used her elevated position in life to reach out and do for others. Though born to nobility, Marie displayed a servant's heart as she embraced her adopted country of Romania, preferring charitable work among the gypsy peasants and nursing wounded soldiers in the field.

Though her later years were filled with betrayal, isolation and exile, she was neer bitter, always showing forgiveness to her oppressors.

"Love lives in my heart invincibly, a light nothing can obscure. Neither disappointment, nor disillusionment, nor ever mistrust and misunderstanding of mankind. The inner faith by which I go forward is stronger than all else. Invincible, invlnerable, not to be overthrown. It has become an armour which protects me from the snares of existence.

No heart rendering experience, no conflict, no defeat, no surrender leaves any bitterness in my soul. All that I have endured, submitted to, all that has either gladdened or saddened my days seems but to strengthen that light. Nor do I ever feel that any desire to strike back at those who harm me. My one and only wish is that they should understand the sad unfruitfulness of their hate.

After the death of her husband in 1927, Queen Marie remained in Romania, writing books and her memoirs, The Story of My Life. She died on July 18, 1938, and was buried next to her husband in the Monastery of Curtea de Arges. In accordance with her will, her heart was kept in a cloister at the Balchik Palace which she had built. In 1940, when Balchik and the rest of Southern Dobrudja were returned to Bulgaria in accordance with the Treaty of Craiova, Queen Marie's heart was transferred to Bran Castle. This had been her principal home for much of the early 20th century, and the artifacts with which she chose to surround herself (traditional furniture and tapestries, for example) can be seen by visitors today. Many of her other personal effects can be seen in the home of Sam Hill, an American who Queen Marie had a corespondence with for much of her life. The home, now called the Maryhill Museum lies in the Northwest of the U.S. on the Washington side of the Columbia River. It displays much of Queen Marie's regalia, furniture, and other possessions including her crown.

Queen Marie shortly before her death

Alex of Denmark ... Princess of Wales, Queen Alexandra

Before there was Diana, the Princess of Wales and England's Rose, there was Alex of Denmark. The Danish Rose who was to become the Princess of Wales and later Queen Alexandra was born November 1, 1844, the daughter of Christian IX, King of Denmark, and Princess Louise Wilhelmina of Hesse-Cassel. And she was the first Princess of Wales to be dubbed The Queen of Hearts."

King Christian is often called the grandfather of Europe because of the number of his discendents who became monarchs. Christian himself produced three kings, a queen and a tsarina. His son Frederick succeded him as King of Denmark in 1906. His son Charles became King Haakon VII of Norway in 1905. Another son William became king of Greece. Alexandra married the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) and became Queen of England. And Dagmar married Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Although poorly educated, King Christian was a man of high morals and a devoted husband and father.

Princess Louise was much more lively and forceful. Her husband and children were devoted to her. She suffered from otosclerosis, a hereditary form of deafness, which she passed on to Princess Alexandra. Louise was the kindest of mothers.

Alexandria as a girl was raised in rather frugal circumstances in Copenhagen. She and her sisters sewed many of their own clothes. Occasionally they would wait on tables and perform other household chores. It was a very happy family. She was a naural athelete and the children practiced gymastics. She loved to ride and became a very proficient horsewoman. She grew up to be a beautiful woman but had no interest in intellectual pursuits. As one historian put it, she "had no brain." Her engaging personality and lack of pretense made her a favorite of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria. She also was a great favorite of the British people. Her children, horses and dogs became the center of her life. Her husband who, liked no only beautiful, but also witty women, would seek their companionship.

Alex with her parents and sister Dagmar

Alexandra Carolina Marie Charlotte Louise Julia was born in the Yellow Palace in Copenhagen. Little information is known about Alexandra's childhood. We know she was raised in frugal, but comfortable middle class suroudings. The Danish royals did not have the wealth of some European royals. This was especially true of Alex's family as her father, while of the bluest of royal blood, had no family inheritance and was not initially in line to inherit the Danish Crown. The family lived on his small incomne as an army officer. They lived in a moderate mansion and could not afford many of the glamorous trimmings often associated with royals. Alex and her sisters, Dagmar and Thyra, were plainly dressed, primarily because money was scarce, and as teenagers they learned the best way to get a new frock was to sew one. Alex as a girl wore her hair in long ringlet curls. Alex's family was not noted for its intellectual pursuits. There was little money for tutors. Their mother taught the children music and dance. Their father focused on gymastics, which the children loved.

Alex's time was almost entirely spent in the company of Dagmar, with whom she shared a small bedroom, since the Yellow Palace was so small that it didn't allow the children to have rooms of their own.

Denmark was different than most European countries in that there was a personal relationship between the Crown and the people. The country had been so reduced by the Bapoleonic Wars that in the 19th century it was possible for soverign and subjects to know each other persinally. There was not the distance that seperated soverigns and subjects in the larger, more important European countries. Denmark was not as clannish as many other countries and in fact saw itself as one large family. (This was best seen in how the Danes managed to save their Jewish citizens from the NAZIs during World War II.) This was the Denmark in which Princess Alexandra was raised and in which her cahracter was shaped. And even after marrying the Prince of Wales she never lost her fierce devotion to Denmark and the Danish people.

Princess Alexandra was a beauty girl. She is said to have been quick tempered and passionate. She was affectionate, honest and one of the most kind and giving people to reign as Queen of England. This was was noticed by her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria, while Alex was still Princess Of Wales. Princess Alex inherited her mother's slim, exquisite figure, her taste for music as well as her religious faith. As a woman she also inherited her mother's deafness, too.

Bertie was a bit of a problem in the early 1860s. He was increasingly difficult to control. In fact his father was not at all well and he made a trip in the worst of weather to discuss his son's indistretion. The exposure and poor medical attention soon resulted in his death. Both his parents thought that marriage might settle him down. He was not a particularly handsome youth and his behavior did not endear him to some perspective brides -- especially the very high opinion he had of himself. His sister Victoria, then Crown Princess of Prussia tried to find a German princess, but first rejected them as to plain. Largely for diplomatic reasons, none wanted to see a marriage with a Danish princess--given the problems over Scheswig-Holstein. The Queen and Prince Albert at first objected because Denmark was not a very important country and they did not approve of some of her relatives. Prince Albert is reported to have said, "We take the Princess, but not her relations." Vicky did obtain a photograph and was impressed. Victoria and Allbert eventually consented. Vicky arranged a meeting in Germany, but Alex was not told about it and thought that her family just bumped into Berie by accident. (She presumably figured it out as her mother had insisted she wear her best dress even though they were going on a train, a dusty undertaking at the time.) After the meeting Berie delayed, probably because one of his many affairs had surfaced in the press. It was this affair that caused Prince Albert to go to Cambridge and speak with his son. He got drenched. After returning home he fell sick and died of typhoid fever in December 1861. The Queen blamed her son. After his father's death, the wedding had to be further delayed.

Bertie and Alexandria married on March 10, 1863. He was 21 and Danish Princess Alexandra Oldenburg, now the Princess of Wales, was age 18. She was delivered to London aboard the royal yacht. The British public was relieved to find it was not another royal marriage to a German royal family and were delighted with the Princesses' beauty and charm. It was a time of great celebration in Britain, finally emerging from the gloom surrounding the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Marriage into the British royal family was quite a change for Alexandra. Marriage to Bertie, however, was no picnic. She had to contend with many infidilities. One author called him a prodigious philanderer. Her husband liked not only beautiful, but also bright, witty women and would seek their companionship. Alex, while charming, was totally unable to conduct any kind of intellectual converstion. Bertie was a philanderer, although he did become more discrete after marriage. Alex knew of this, but tolerated it. She expalained, "He always loved me the most". Her tolerance and forebarence no doubt helped to endeared her to the British people who loved her from the first day she set foot on English soil.

The Queen's initial reluctance vanished even before she had met Alex. After they met, Alex's engaging personality and lack of pretense charmed the Queen and made her a favorite of her mother-in-law. Alex had the ability to light up any room she entered. Although Victoria's meddling caused priblems, the bonds between the two were never broken. In large measure this was due to Alex. She was able to charm the Queen when ever they were together. It is quite amazing how often she refused to acede to Victoria's constant interfearing on her private life and in raising the children, yet avoid any open break in their relationship. Queen Victoria complained about Alex, primarily because she did not follow a never ending stream of instructions. The Queen wrote to her daughter Vicky in Prussia, "Alex shows me no confidence whatsoever especially about the children ..." Some letters were even more severe, at times bringing Alex to tears. In this regard Berie, despite his many failings as a husband, would stand up for his wife. The Queen always was swayed by Alex's charm when she visited.

Alex from the beginning was enormously popular with the British public. In many ways it was much like the devotion that Princess Diana sparked. Alex's beauty was one factor, but it was her enormous charm that sealed the relationship. For many years she and Bertie were the public face of monarchy in Britain. The Queen secluded herself and did not attend public functions. She refused to give Bertie any real responsibility, but it was Alex and Bertie that the public saw. The public adulation affected how Victoria regarded Alex in one way. There was an element of jealousy in their relationship with the Queen resenting her daughter-in-laws great popularity. In later years, the dignity with which Alex conducted herself regarding her husband's philandering added even greater luster to her public image. Alex was for a long time the only really popular member of the royal family. There were times as Princess of Wales that crowds would cheer her, but hiss when her husband arrived.

Bertie had of course grown up in Windsor, Osborne, and Balmoral. Marlborough House was given to Edward with a view to it becoming his official residence on his reaching age 18. Alex enjoyed social occassions, but she was at heart a home body. She loved Marlborough House from the beginning and came feel the same about Sandringham.

Alex and Bertie never tired of attending parties. Even before Edward became king, he and Alex led the way for Society. Their glitering social life could not have been any more different than the perpetual gloom surrounding Victoria after her husband's death.

Alex's first two pregancies (sons Princt Albert Victor Christian Edward and Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert) were relatively uneventful except for the premature deliveries. Princess Louise's pregnancy was very different. Alex became very sick, especially after the delivery. Her husband did not appear to take it seriously. The Queen did and Alex's parents were asked to come to her bed side. She was suffering from Rheumatic fever, and there was real concern for her life. She suvived, but emerged as quite a changed person. This was the first time this active, outgoing young woman had experienced such intense pain and such a severe illness. She must have been hurt by her husband's behavior. Rather than remain at her bed side, he continued his social life, including flirtations with several beautiful women. She also was left with a noticeable limp, which must have had a great impact on such an athletic young woman. Worse still was her otosclerosis, which is often activated by illness and pregnancy. Alex became increasingly deaf. Otosclerosis was untreatable at the time. It was a terrible handicap fox Alex. Her deafness cut her off from the conversation that would have exposed her to the great issues of the day. It also limited her ability to share in her husband's active social life which only incouraged his indiscretions.


Alexandra was a very good mother and was one of the very few mothers in privlidged circumstances who actually played an important part in raising her own children. She did not just hand them over to nannnies and forget about them. Motherhood was Alex's principal interest, along with her horses and dogs.

There would be six children in all, five of whom would survive to adulthood:

HRH Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
(January 8, 1864 January 14, 1892)

HM King George V
(June 3, 1865 to January 20, 1936)
married 1893 to Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary)

HRH The Princess Louise, Princess Royal
(February 20, 1867 to January 4, 1931)
married 1889 to Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife

HRH The Princess Victoria
(July 6, 1868 to December 3, 1935)

HRH Princess Maud
(November 26, 1869 to November 20, 1938)
married 1896, Haakon VII, King of Norway

HRH Prince Alexander John
(April 6, 1871 to April 7, 1871)

Alex's many pregancies prevented her accompanying her husband on many of his European trips. One trip they did take together was an epic 6-month journey to Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna, Trieste, Egypt, Istambul, the Crimea, and Greece. One of the purposes was to show her mother Princess Louise, her name sake. Here the Queen's rudely expressed objections brought Alex to tears, but it was finally agreed that the boys and Louise would join up with their parents in Denmark to visit with their grandparents. After the visit the children tearfully returned to England and their parents continued on. The official visits wee extensive in Berlin and Vienna. They were fascinated by Egypt. The boys wrote hoping that they would not be eaten by "Crokkydiles". Berie of course shot one. Alex brought a live trophy ... a black ram who she rescuced from the butcher and also installed at her menagerie at Sandringham. Finally they visited Alex's brother King George in Greece.

Alexandra was an extemely generous individual on both the personal and public level. She was consantly sending small gifts both to friends and staff. Her primary public works were long association with the Red Cross and the Army Nursing Services. Alexandra helped to found the Red Cross in England. She also started several nursing programs in her own name. She helped outfit a hospital ship to help the soldiers wounded in the Boer War. There were many smaller public charitable activities, such as a banquet for the poor boys of London.

Eddy, Maud, Alexandra, Louise, Edward
George and Victoria

At the time of his birth, Prince Albert Victor, known within the famly as Eddy was second in the line of succession to the throne after his father. By now, Prince Eddy had been created The Duke of Clarence

In 1889 Eddy fell hopeless in love with his cousin Princess Alix of Hesse (future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia). But Alix rejected him. Eddy was chrushed; he wrote to his mother: "I don't think she knows how much I love her or she could not be so cruel."

By 1890, Eddy he had met Princess Helene of Orleans. Queen Victoria disagreed with a possible marriage because Helene was a Roman Catholic and Eddy, being heir presuntive to the Throne of England, could not realized such a union. If Helene wanted to marry Eddy, she had to change religion and neither her father nor the Pope Leo XIII would allow that. Eddy had to forget about Helene, who by all accounts was the love of his life.

Prince Eddy finally met someone who seemed to be the appropiate woman for him: Princess Mary of Teck (known as Princess May). They became engaged on December 3, 1891, and set the wedding for the last week of January, 1892.

Prince Eddy spent Christmas at Sandringham. On January 4, Princess May and her parents arrived to join Eddy, the Prince and Princess of Wales and their daughters to continue making arrangements for their wedding. Prince Eddy spent some days hunting in the cold wind and snow. his 28th birthday, Eddy developed a persistent cough and fell ill, a victim of the deadly influenza epidemic that had been raging in Britain for a year. This was further complicated by the settling in of pneumonia. He was soon cofined to bed, unable to attend his birthday dinner. The next day he had developed inflamation of the lungs. As the prince weakened, anxious crowds gathered to read the bulletins posted at Marlborough House. On the morning of January 12 , Prince Eddy was worse and the next day his temperature rose higher and he was delirious, shouting about his Regiment, his horses, his friends and his love for his grandmother, the Queen. He frerquently cried out "Helene!, Helene!". In the early morning of January 14, Eddy's agony began and lasted for six hours. The Princess of Wales sat at the head of her dying son's bed, holding his hand. There were also his father, his sisters Louise, Victoria and Maud and his fiance, Princess Mary, with her mother.

Eddy died at 9:35 of the morning of January 14, 1892. He was 28 years old. His death was announced by black-bordered newspapers and tolling bells all over London. When the solelmn tolling of the great bells of St. Paul's Cathedral was heard that morning, it conveyed to everyone within hearing of their deep-mounted booming the fact that the Duke of Clarence and Avondale had passed away. The bells in St. Paul's are never tolled save on the occasion of the death of an heir to the throne, and therefore no further information was necessary for the people of London to make them aware that after a gallant struggle, the Duke had finally succombed. The bells tolled all the afternoon.

A member of the Associated Press learned from an undisclosed member of the Duke's household that ...

the most distressing scenes had occured at the bedside of the dying Prince since the day before. Since midnight, Prince Albert Victor had been eithe rdelirious or wholly unconscious, save for a few minutes now and then. During his lucide intervals, he was most tender and affection to his parents and the others who were at his bedside. The Prince and Princess of Wales are in the deepest distress, and nothing can afford them consolation for the loss they have sustained.

Prince Albert Victor was and always had been Queen Victoria's favorite grandson, and his untimely death was a most severe blow to her.

He was buried at Albert Memorial Chapel in Windsor. Over his coffin there was a large band ribbon with only one word: "Helene".

Alexandra never fully recovered from her son's death and kept the room in which he died and his possessions as a shrine. For the rest of her life, Princess Alexandra made daily visits to the room where Eddy died, leaving fresh flowers on his bed.

But most other people soon forgot about the prince. His younger brother Prince George took his place in the line of succession, and 18 months later, Prince George married Princess May himself, George V became king in Eddy's place in 1910, reigning for 25 years with the renamed Queen Mary by his side.

It is generally believed that, compared to his brother, Eddy would have been more responsive to events and more interested in the arts. He would also have felt able to take risks. In 1918, George V refused to let his cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family take refuge in Britain. It is probable that Eddy would have let them in, not caring about what people thought or having any worries about republicanism. George had replaced an heir who was probably his superior in many ways.

Mourning Eddy: Maud, Alexandra, Louise, George and Toria

Besides her children, Alex's great passion in her life was for her animals. The menangere at Sandriham which delighted her children and grandchildren was a testimnony to that.


The Princess was not extravigant concerning clothes, no doubt an affect of the precarious finances of her youth. She even had her maids darning handkerchiefs and socks. She mostly bought from English dressmakers in London for poltical reasons. Redfern was her favorite. There were occasional trips to Paris where she would shop at Doucet, a famous shop.

Alexandra dabbled with painting in both water colors and oil. She showed no great aptitude here. Her photography was much more interesting. She took up photography and here showed some talent. She called her camera a "photography machine". Given her position she was able to photograph many of the greats of the age such as Queen Victoria and Admiral Sir John Fisher who many credit for preparing the British fleet to fight World War I. She took many photographs of her grandchildren.

Alexandra is said to have been a doting grandmother. She waa always more prone to spoiling rather than disciplining her own children, but this is often more of a virtue for a grandmother. Prince George's children grew up next door in York Cottage. Their parents, now the Duke and Duchess of York, did not especially approve of Alex's endulgences with the children, but neither was about to make a strong issue of it which would have terribly upset Alexandra. She was allowed to have the children when ever she wanted. The young princes and princess loved to visit their grandmother who spoiled them terribly, in contrast's to their fathers' strict navy routein. Both grandparents doted on them. The children quickly learned that the excuse, "but grandmama said we could" often got them out of difficult situations. Their grandfather was also quite endulgent, but not as engaged. Alex developed an especially close relationship to Prince John, the youngest child who suffered from epilepsy and died while still a child. Her relationship with her grandchildren by Louise (now Duchess of Fife) was more distant. Not only were they in Scotland, but Louise was not nearly as willing for Alexandra to have the children as often as Alexandra would have wanted. The Princess was hurt by the differing attitude of her own daughter compared to her daughter-in-law.

Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901. The Queen's cofin was taken from Osborne to London on board the Royal yatch Alberta. Bertie noticed that the Royal standard in the yatch was at half-mast; he asked the captain the reason at which the man replied: "The Queen is dead sir". But Bertie frimly declared: "But the King is alive", and the satndard was soared. The Victorian Era was over and Bertie was now King Edward VII.

Edward was crowned King in 1902. He refused to give up his first name and be crowned Albert I, in deference to his father. Instead he was crowned Edward VII. Alex was Queen Alexandra, after having held the title of Princess of Wales for 38 years, longer than any other to have the title, before or since. An entire era was named after them ... the Edwardian Era.

But King Edward VII reign only nine years. After suffering from chronic bronchitis for many years, throughout the afternoon of Friday, May 6, 1910, he suffered a series of heart attacks and the doctors declared it was the end. He had moments of consciousnness during which he recieved the visit of Alice Keppel, his mistress, whom Queen Alexandra had generously sent for. At 5 pm. Prince George informed his father that one of the King's horses, Witch of the Air, had won a race at Kempton Park. "I am very glad" said the King. Soon after, he sank into coma. He died at 11:45 that night.

Queen Alexandra became Dowager Queen. "Georgey," as she loving called her second son, was crowned King George V. Throughout the corination, Alexandra sobbed and repeated over and over, "This should be Eddy, not George." But Goerge was understanding, knowing that this was spoken from the heart of a mother still grieving for her lost son.

Her parents had died, and so she bought a house in Denmark with her sister Dagmar so they would have a place to stay when they visited Denmark.

Dagmar and Alex with their beloved pets

Princess Victoria, Queen Marie and The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna - London, 1905

The Russian Revolution was terrifing for the Royal family. Knocking the Russians out of the War allowed the German to mount a massive new assault on the Western Front. Had Kaissr Wihelm II not acquiesed in military demands for unconditional sunmarinr warfare in 1917 brining America into the War, they probably would have succeeded. More directly for Alex were family ties to the Tsar's family. Tsar Nicholas was her nephew. He and his family were assasinated in 1918, but his mother, Alex's sister Dagmar managed to get to areas controlled by the white forces in the Crimea. She was eventually rescued there by a Royal Navy ship. She refused to board until they agreed to take her family and friends. Once safely in England she was installed at Frogmore House.

As Queen Mother towards the end of her life she became almost completely deaf and suffered from mild senile dementia. Her deafness was getting worse and her son, George V, on the wishes of his wife Mary, pushed his mother to the background. She resided chiefly at Sandringham House, which Edward VII had received as Prince of Wales. In her drives about the countryside she would graciously wave and bow to the cows in the fields, the faithful Princess Victoria always in attendance.

Although she had a number of suitors, Princess Victoria never married. Her mother, Alexandra, is believed to have actively discouraged her from marrying. Instead she remained a companion to her parents, particularly her mother, with whom she lived until Queen Alexandra's death in 1925. The Princess then set up her own home at Coppins, Iver, in Buckinghamshire. She took a particular interest in the village life, becoming honorary president of the Iver Horticultural Society.

As Queen from 1901 to 1910, and Queen Mother thereafter, Alix was greatly loved by the British people. She was associated with many charities, the most notable being "Alexandra Rose Day". Alexandra Rose Day was founded in 1912 when Queen Alexandra started the first national Flag Day to mark the fiftieth anniversary of her arrival in the UK from Denmark. Thousands of volunteers sold roses in London for the benefit of hospitals and other charitable institutions. The first Rose Day raised 32,000 (over 2 million in today's money). Alexandra paid her first round of visits to London rose-sellers in 1912. This drive became an annual event until her final progress 1923, The last Rose Day she lived to see was on June 10th, 1925, when Queen Alexandra sent a kindly message from Sandringham.

Alexandra Rose Day continues still today and will always commemorate the well-beloved Queen Alexandra by helping people-caring charities (disabled people, children, the young and the elderly) to help themselves. This summer festival, when rose-sellers in the streets raise money for hospitals and charities, in fact helps any voluntary organisation that aims to help people in need or to improve their quality of life. Most of them are small community-based organisations that rely on volunteer workers and have limited funds. These are the groups that miss out on government funding because they operate at a personal level helping individuals

The beautiful Queen Alexandra died of a heart attack on November 20, 1925, at Sandringham. Only King George and Queen Mary were at her bedside when she quietly stopped breathing. Her death deeply grieved the nation. She was buried at Windsor.

Tea with Queen Alexandra

Camilla ... The Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other 15 Commonwealth Realms. Prior to their marriage she had been his long-time partner.

Christened Camilla Rosemary Shand and known since childhood as "Milla", she spent her early youth in the village of Plumpton, East Sussex, England, where the family home stood opposite the Plumpton Racecourse. Her ancestry is French, English, Dutch, and Scottish.

She attended Dumbrells School in Sussex, as well as Queen's Gate School in Kensington; later she attended Mon Fertile, a finishing school in Switzerland.

She made her debut in London in 1965. In her youth she worked for a year at the London decorators, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler.

Before her wedding in 1973 Camilla had been the girlfriend of Prince Charles. The relationship between Camilla and the Prince of Wales began in 1970, after they met at a polo match before either of them was married. In 1973, the then-Camilla Shand married Andrew Parker Bowles, an Army officer and a friend of the Prince of Wales. They had two children together, Tom, born in 1974 and a godson of Prince Charles, and Laura, born in 1978. Andrew and Camilla were divorced in March 1995. Andrew Parker Bowles remarried a year later.

In February 2005, it was announced that Camilla and the Prince of Wales would marry on April 8, 2005 at Windsor Castle with a civil service followed by a Church of England service. On April 4, it was announced that the wedding would be postponed 24 hours until April 9, so that the Prince of Wales could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II as the representative of the Queen.

The civil marriage ceremony took place at the Guildhall, Windsor, instead of the castle, as a wedding licence for Windsor Castle would have been required and a standard condition would be for it to accept public weddings for a minimum of three years. The service was attended by close members of the couple's family.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did not attend the civil marriage ceremony, but did attend the Church of England service at St George's Chapel following the civil ceremony (officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury). A reception was held for the couple in Windsor Castle afterwards.

Camilla's choice of clothes for her wedding day won widespread media praise, with the News of the World calling her outfits "sensational". Following the wedding, the couple travelled to Birkhall, the Prince's country home in Scotland, near Balmoral Castle.

As she is the consort and wife of the Prince of Wales, Camilla legally holds the title and technical rank of Princess of Wales. Due to the fact that this style is so strongly associated with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, she elects, with the Queen's permission, to use the feminine form her husband's subsidiary title, Duke of Cornwall, rather than Princess of Wales. However, in Scotland both Charles and Camilla are formally styled as Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, a title historically associated with heirs to the Scottish throne.

Though she maintains a residence in Wiltshire, the Duchess of Cornwall primarily lives at Highgrove House and at Clarence House, the former residence of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, which is now the Prince of Wales's official London residence.

The Duchess of Cornwall supports her husband The Prince of Wales in his work and role as Heir to the Throne, as well as being Patron or President of a number of her own charities and organisations in the role of President or Patron. The Duchess has a wide range of interests which include the performing arts, gardening, riding and owns both horses and dogs.

The Prince and The Duchess are both great supporters of the arts They regularly attends concerts and theatre shows, which are often fundraising events for charities with which they are affiliated.

This is reflected in The Duchess's patronage of the London Chamber Orchestra, St Johns, Smith Square, and the New Queen's Hall Orchestra. Their Royal Highnesses are also Joint Patrons of the restored Georgian Theatre Royal, in Richmond, Yorkshire.

When at Birkhall, Their Royal Highnesses enjoy fishing and walking in the Scottish countryside and they both share a passion for gardening.

The Duchess also loves riding and has bred horses herself. She keeps three horses, Molly, Willie and Bearskin, at the Highgrove Estate. The horses take part in showjumping, showing, general riding and cross-country trialling.

The Duchess owns two Jack Russell terriers Tosca and Rosie.

Her Royal Highness supports Soroptimists which is a worldwide organisation of women founded in 1921. It promotes human rights and the status of women and has around 95,000 members across the world.

Clarence House has indicated that when Charles accedes the throne it is intended that she will use the title HRH The Princess Consort. Commentators have pointed out that unless a specific Act of Parliament is passed to the contrary, she will, as a King's wife, legally be Queen, regardless of whether she uses that title or not.

But regardless of the title she decides on, Camilla will truly be Great Britain's Queen to me and her legacy will be a source of pride to her country long after we are all gone.

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This page is Dedicated to the Memory of
My Grandmother, Nancy Young Noe,
The One True Victorian English Lady in My Life

Midi= The Mermaid by Yanni