Beatrice was the last child born to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her father died when she was four and as Matthew Dennison will relate Victoria came to depend on her youngest daughter absolutely, but she also demanded from her complete submission. It is an enthralling story, not just of a mother/daughter relationship, but of a Queen and subject relationship. Victoria was not above laying it down regally even with her own children. Beatrice succumbed to her mother's obsessive love, so that by the time she was in her late teens she was running her mother's office, which meant that when Victoria died her daughter became literary executor, a role she conducted with teutonic thoroughness. She edited and bowdlerised her mother's Journal that cover 70 years and where possible her voluminous correspondence. But thank goodness Beatrice inherited some of her mother's more steely qualities. Although Victoria tried to prevent Beatrice even so much as thinking of love, her guard slipped when Beatrice was 29. Perhaps Victoria thought she was over the hill, but Beatrice met Liko, Prince Henry of Battenberg, and fell in love.
As Dennison puts it: hers was a 'hard-won victory of love over family prejudice, political relactance and, most significantly, Queen Victoria's opposition.' Sadly, Beatrice inherited from her mother the haemophilia gene, which she passed on to two of her four sons and which her daughter Victoria Eugenia, in marrying Alfonso XIII of Spain, in turn passed on to the Spanish royal family. Beatrice, however, did not end up simply as a wife and mother. She loved music and composed a military march which apparently remains in the repertoire of British regimental bands, she sang and she painted. Dennison sums up: 'she was an essential component in the smooth-running of Victoria's queenship. This new exmaination will restore her to her proper prominence -as Queen Victoria's second consort.'
Matthew Dennison is a journalist. He writes for The Times, The TLS, The Spectator and House & Garden. He is married and lives in London and North Wales