World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom

Article Id: WHEBN0000303055
Reproduction Date:

Title: Princess Helena of the United Kingdom  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria, Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Margaret of Connaught
Collection: 1846 Births, 1923 Deaths, British Princesses, Burials at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, Companions of the Order of the Crown of India, Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, House of Augustenburg, House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (United Kingdom), Ladies of the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Members of the Royal Red Cross, People from Old Windsor, Princesses of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, Women of the Victorian Era
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom

Princess Helena
Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
Spouse Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
Issue Prince Christian Victor
Albert, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein
Princess Helena Victoria
Princess Marie Louise
Prince Harald
Full name
Helena Augusta Victoria
House House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (by birth)
House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (by marriage)
Father Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Mother Queen Victoria
Born (1846-05-25)25 May 1846
Buckingham Palace, London
Died 9 June 1923(1923-06-09) (aged 77)
Schomberg House, London
Burial Frogmore, Windsor

Princess Helena (Helena Augusta Victoria; Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein by marriage;[1] 25 May 1846 – 9 June 1923) was the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Helena was educated by private tutors chosen by her father and his close friend and adviser, Baron Stockmar. Her childhood was spent with her parents, travelling between the variety of royal residences in Britain. The intimate atmosphere of the royal court came to an end on 14 December 1861, when her father died and her mother entered a period of intense mourning. In the early 1860s, Helena began a flirtation with Prince Albert's German librarian, Carl Ruland. Although the nature of the relationship is largely unknown, Helena's romantic letters to Ruland survive.[2] After the Queen found out in 1863, she dismissed Ruland, who returned to his native Germany. Three years later, on 5 July 1866, Helena married the impoverished German Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. The couple remained in Britain, in calling distance of the Queen, who liked to have her daughters nearby, and Helena along with her youngest sister, Princess Beatrice, became the Queen's unofficial secretary. However, after Queen Victoria's death on 22 January 1901, Helena saw relatively little of her surviving siblings.

Helena was the most active member of the royal family, carrying out an extensive programme of royal engagements at a time when royalty was not expected to appear often in public. She was also an active patron of charities, and was one of the founding members of the Red Cross. She was founding president of the Royal School of Needlework, and president of the Royal British Nurses' Association. As president of the latter, she was a strong supporter of nurse registration against the advice of Florence Nightingale.[3] She became the first member of her family to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary in 1916, but her husband died a year later. Helena outlived him by six years, and died aged 77 at Schomberg House on 9 June 1923.


  • Early life 1
  • Death of Prince Albert 2
  • Marriage 3
    • Marriage controversy 3.1
    • Engagement and wedding 3.2
    • Married life 3.3
  • Royal duties 4
    • Nursing 4.1
    • Needlework 4.2
  • Writing 5
    • Bergsträsser affair 5.1
  • After Victoria 6
    • Edwardian period 6.1
    • Later years 6.2
  • Legacy 7
  • Titles, styles, honours and arms 8
    • Titles and styles 8.1
    • Honours 8.2
    • Arms 8.3
  • Issue 9
  • Ancestry 10
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Early life

Princess Helena (right) with her brother Prince Alfred. Helena was Alfred's favourite sister.

Helena was born at Buckingham Palace, the official royal residence in London, on 25 May 1846, the day after her mother's 27th birthday.[4] She was the third daughter and fifth child of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert reported to his brother, Ernest II, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, that Helena "came into this world quite blue, but she is quite well now".[5] He added that the Queen "suffered longer and more than the other times and she will have to remain very quiet to recover."[6] Albert and Victoria chose the names Helena Augusta Victoria. The German nickname for Helena was Helenchen, later shortened to Lenchen, the name by which members of the royal family invariably referred to Helena.[7] As the daughter of the sovereign, Helena was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Helena from birth. Helena was baptised on 25 July 1846 at the private chapel at Buckingham Palace.[8] Her godparents were The Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, her first cousin once-removed by marriage; The Duchess of Orléans (Hélène, for whom The Queen's mother The Duchess of Kent stood proxy); and The Duchess of Cambridge.[9]

Helena was a lively and outspoken child, and reacted against brotherly teasing by punching the bully on the nose.[10] Her early talents included drawing. Lady Augusta Stanley, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, commented favourably on the three-year-old Helena's artwork.[7] Like her other sisters, she could play the piano to a high standard at an early age. Other interests included science and technology, shared by her father Prince Albert, and horseback riding and boating, two of her favourite childhood occupations.[11] However, Helena became a middle daughter following the birth of Princess Louise in 1848, and her abilities were overshadowed by her more artistic sisters.[12]

Death of Prince Albert

Helena's father, Prince Albert, died on 14 December 1861. The Queen was devastated, and ordered her household, along with her daughters, to move from Windsor to Osborne House, the Queen's Isle of Wight residence. Helena's grief was also profound, and she wrote to a friend a month later: "What we have lost nothing can ever replace, and our grief is most, most bitter...I adored Papa, I loved him more than anything on earth, his word was a most sacred law, and he was my help and adviser...These hours were the happiest of my life, and now it is all, all over."[13]

The Queen relied on her second eldest daughter Princess Alice as an unofficial secretary, but Alice needed an assistant of her own. Though Helena was the next eldest, she was considered unreliable by Victoria because of her inability to go long without bursting into tears.[14] Therefore, Louise was selected to assume the role in her place,[15] Alice was married to Prince Louis of Hesse in 1862, after which Helena assumed the role—described as the "crutch" of her mother's old age by one biographer—at her mother's side.[16] In this role, she carried out minor secretarial tasks, such as writing the Queen's letters, helping her with political correspondence, and providing her with company.[17]


Marriage controversy

Princess Helena

Princess Helena began an early flirtation with her father's former librarian, Carl Ruland, following his appointment to the Royal Household on the recommendation of Baron Stockmar in 1859. He was trusted enough to teach German to Helena's brother, the young Prince of Wales, and was described by the Queen as "useful and able".[18] When the Queen discovered that Helena had grown romantically attached to a royal servant, he was promptly dismissed back to his native Germany, and he never lost the Queen's hostility.[19]

Following Ruland's departure in 1863, the

  • Helena's Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article by John Van der Kiste
  • Royal British Nurses' Association article on nurse registration
  • St George's Chapel article on royal burials
  • Heraldica – British Royalty Cadency
  • Archival material relating to Princess Helena listed at the UK National Archives

External links

  • Battiscombe, Georgina, Queen Alexandra (Constable & Company Ltd, London, 1969)
  • Bennet, D., Queen Victoria's Children (Gollancz, London, 1980) ISBN 0-575-02690-1
  • Chomet, Seweryn, Helena: A Princess Reclaimed (Begell House, New York, 1999) ISBN 1-56700-145-9
  • Dennison, Matthew, The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007) ISBN 978-0-297-84794-6
  • Eilers, Marlene A., Queen Victoria's Descendants (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1987) ISBN 0-8063-1202-5
  • Longford, Elizabeth, Victoria R. I. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Second Edition 1987) ISBN 0-297-84142-4
  • Marie Louise (Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein), My Memories of Six Reigns (Second edition, Penguin, Middlesex, 1959)
  • Packard, Jerrold M., Victoria's Daughters (St Martin's Griffin, New York, 1998) ISBN 0-312-24496-7
  • Van der Kiste, John, Queen Victoria's Children (Sutton Publishing, Gloucester, 2006) ISBN 0-7509-3476-X
    • 'Helena, Princess [Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein] (1846–1923)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 22 Feb 2008
  • Wake, Jehanne, Princess Louise: Queen Victoria's Unconventional Daughter (Collins, London, 1988) ISBN 0-00-217076-0
  • Thomas Weiberg: ... wie immer Deine Dona. Verlobung und Hochzeit des letzten deutschen Kaiserpaares. Isensee-Verlag, Oldenburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89995-406-7.


  1. ^ When German names, styles and titles in 1917, the couple simply became Prince and Princess Christian with no territorial designation.
  2. ^ Chomet, p. 6
  3. ^ Chomet, p. 121
  4. ^ Chomet, p. 9
  5. ^ Bennet, p. 89
  6. ^ Quoted in Chomet, p. 10
  7. ^ a b Chomet, p. 11
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 20626. p. 2754. 28 July 1846. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 20627. p. 2789. 30 July 1846. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  10. ^ a b c d  
  11. ^ Chomet, p. 10
  12. ^ Chomet, p. 12
  13. ^ Packard, p. 101
  14. ^ Packard, p. 102
  15. ^ Packard, p. 103
  16. ^ Packard, p. 104
  17. ^ Dennison, p. 204
  18. ^ Chomet, p. 17
  19. ^ Chomet, p. 19
  20. ^ Chomet, p. 37
  21. ^ Packard, p. 99
  22. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 61
  23. ^ Packard, p. 121
  24. ^ a b Packard, p. 113
  25. ^ Battiscombe, p. 77
  26. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 65
  27. ^ Packard, p. 114
  28. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 64
  29. ^ Battiscombe, p. 76
  30. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 181
  31. ^ Packard, p. 115
  32. ^ Packard, p. 116
  33. ^ The London Gazette: no. 23140. p. 4092. 17 June 1866. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  34. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 72
  35. ^ Packard, p. 117
  36. ^ Chomet, p. 55
  37. ^ Chomet, p. 133
  38. ^ Packard, p. 192
  39. ^ Chomet, p. 52
  40. ^ Chomet, p. 54
  41. ^ Chomet, p. 59
  42. ^ Packard, p. 194
  43. ^ Benson, p. 300
  44. ^ Packard, pp. 269–270
  45. ^ Packard, p. 193
  46. ^ Quoted in Chomet, p. 128
  47. ^ Quoted in Chomet, p. 129
  48. ^ Chomet, p. 130
  49. ^ a b Chomet, p. 119
  50. ^ a b Chomet, p. 120
  51. ^ a b Chomet, p. 122
  52. ^ Battiscombe, p. 234
  53. ^ a b Chomet, p. 123
  54. ^ Quoted in Battiscombe, p. 233
  55. ^ "Registration of Nurses". Royal British Nurses' Association. 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  56. ^ a b Chomet, p. 124
  57. ^ Chomet, p. 125
  58. ^ a b Chomet, p. 126
  59. ^ Quoted in Chomet, p. 126
  60. ^ Chomet, p. 70
  61. ^ Chomet, p. 71
  62. ^ Chomet, p. 80
  63. ^ Chomet, p. 83
  64. ^ a b Chomet, p. 84
  65. ^ Chomet, p. 86
  66. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 180
  67. ^ Battiscombe, pp. 75–78
  68. ^ a b Van der Kiste, p. 182
  69. ^ Marie Louise, pp. 195–196
  70. ^ Marie Louise, pp. 141–142
  71. ^ Marie Louise, p. 142
  72. ^ Marie Louise, p. 43
  73. ^ Chomet, pp. 143–144
  74. ^ Chomet, p. 149
  75. ^ "Royal Burials at St George's Chapel, Windsor". St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. 2008. Archived from the original on February 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  76. ^ "President's Message to the RBNA". Royal British Nurses' Association. 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  77. ^ Chomet, p. 30
  78. ^ Chomet, p. 87
  79. ^ Chomet, p. 40
  80. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22956. p. 1985. 11 April 1865. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  81. ^ Van der Kiste, p. 36
  82. ^ Longford, p. 395
  83. ^ Chomet, p. 4
  84. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24539. pp. 113–114. 4 January 1878. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  85. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26725. p. 1960. 27 March 1896. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  86. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30730. p. 6685. 4 June 1917. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  87. ^ "British Royal Cadency". Heraldica. 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  88. ^ Eilers, p. 205
  89. ^ Eilers, p. 206
  90. ^ Eilers, p. 206



Name Birth Death Notes
Prince Christian Victor Albert Ernest Anton[88] 14 April 1867 29 October 1900 His mother's favourite son; died unmarried and without issue while serving in the Boer War
Prince Albert John Charles Frederick Arthur George 28 February 1869 27 April 1931 Succeeded as head of the House of Oldenburg in 1921; had one illegitimate daughter, Valerie Marie zu Schleswig-Holstein.
Princess Victoria Louise Sophia Augusta Amelia Helena, "Helena Victoria" 3 May 1870 13 March 1948 Never married. One of her last public appearances was at the wedding of the future Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Princess Franziska Josepha Louise Augusta Marie Christina Helena, "Marie Louise"[89] 12 August 1872 8 December 1956 Married 1891; Prince Aribert of Anhalt; no issue; marriage was dissolved in 1900
Prince Frederick Christian Augustus Leopold Edward Harald[90] 12 May 1876 20 May 1876 Died an infant at eight days old
An unnamed stillborn son 7 May 1877 7 May 1877 Stillborn
Prince and Princess Christian had six children, four of whom lived to adulthood. They had one grandchild, Valerie Marie zu Schleswig-Holstein, who died in 1953 as their final descendant.


[87] In 1858, Helena and the three younger of her sisters were granted use of the



  • 25 May 1846 – 5 July 1866: Her Royal Highness The Princess Helena
  • 5 July 1866 – 17 July 1917: Her Royal Highness Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
  • 17 July 1917 – 9 June 1923: Her Royal Highness Princess Christian

Titles and styles

Princess Helena's coat of arms (1858–1917)

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Helena was closest to her brother, Prince Alfred, who considered her his favourite sister.[81] Though described by contemporaries as fearfully devoted to the Queen, to the point that she did not have a mind of her own, she actively campaigned for women's rights, a field the Queen abhorred.[82] Nevertheless, both she and Beatrice remained closest to the Queen, and Helena remained close to her mother's side until the latter's death. Her name was the last to be written in the Queen's seventy-year-old journal.[83]

Music was one of her passions; in her youth she played the piano with Charles Hallé, and Jenny Lind and Clara Butt were among her personal friends.[10] Her determination to carry out a wide range of public duties won her widespread popularity.[79] She twice represented her mother at Drawing Rooms, where guests were instructed to present themselves to Helena as if they were presenting themselves to the Queen.[80]

very lovely, with wavy brown hair, a beautiful little straight nose, and lovely amber-coloured eyes...She was very talented: played the piano exquisitively, had a distinct gift for drawing and painting in water-colours...Her outstanding gift was loyalty to her friends...She was brilliantly clever, had a wonderful head for business...[78]

In appearance, Helena was described by John Van der Kiste as plump and dowdy; and in temperament, as placid, and business-like, with an authoritarian spirit. On one occasion, during a National Dock Strike, the Archbishop of Canterbury composed a prayer hoping for its prompt end. Helena arrived at the church, examined her service sheet, and in a voice described by her daughter as "the penetrating royal family whisper, which carried farther than any megaphone", remarked: "That prayer won't settle any strike."[10] Her appearance and personality was criticised in the letters and journals of Queen Victoria, and biographers followed her example.[77] However, Helena's daughter, Princess Marie Louise, described her as:

Helena was devoted to nursing, and took the lead at the charitable organisations she represented. She was also an active campaigner, and wrote letters to newspapers and magazines promoting the interests of Baroness Cox as president.[76]

British Royalty
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Victoria and Albert
Victoria, Princess Royal and German Empress
Edward VII
Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Helena, Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany
Beatrice, Princess Henry of Battenberg


Princess Helena, Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, died at Schomberg House on 9 June 1923.[74] Her funeral, described as a "magnificently stage-managed scene" by her biographer Seweryn Chomet, was headed by King George V. The regiment of her favourite son, Prince Christian Victor, lined the steps of Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, a few miles from Windsor, after its consecration on 23 October 1928.[75]

In 1917, in response to the wave of anti-German feeling that surrounded the war, George V changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. He also disposed of his family's German titles and styles, so Christian, Helena and their daughters simply became Prince and Princess Christian; Princess Helena Victoria and Marie Louise with no territorial designation. Helena's surviving son, Albert, fought on the side of the Prussians, though he made it clear that he would not fight against his mother's country.[72] In the same year, on 8 October, Prince Christian died at Schomberg House. Her last years were spent arguing with Commissioners, who tried to turn her out of Schomberg and Cumberland Lodge because of the expense of running her households. They failed, as clear evidence of her right to live in those residences for life was shown.[73]

Princess Helena's grave at Frogmore (second from left) in the Schleswig-Holstein burial plot

Edward VII died in 1910, and the Queen Mary were present when the telegram was received, and the King remarked to Helena's daughter, Marie Louise, that her former husband, Prince Aribert of Anhalt, did her a service when he turned her out. When Marie Louise said she would have run away to Britain if she was still married, the King said, "with a twinkle in his eye", that he would have had to intern her.[71]

Later years

Helena saw relatively little of her surviving siblings, and continued her role as a support to the monarchy and a campaigner for the many charities she represented.[68] Christian also led a quiet life, although despite old age, he represented the King at a number of foreign functions, including the 1906 silver wedding anniversary of Kaiser Wilhelm II, son of Helena's sister Victoria.[68] During the Edwardian period, Helena visited the grave of her son, Prince Christian Victor, who died in 1900 following a bout with malaria while serving in the Second Boer War. She was met by South African Prime Minister Louis Botha, but Jan Smuts refused to meet her, partly because he was bitter that South Africa had lost the war and partly because his son had died in a British concentration camp.[69]

Helena's favourite son, Prince Christian Victor, died in 1900, followed shortly by her mother, Queen Victoria, at Osborne House on 22 January 1901. The new King, King Edward VII, did not have close ties with his surviving sisters, with the exception of Princess Louise. Helena's nephew, Prince Alexander of Battenberg (later Marquess of Carisbrooke) recorded that Queen Alexandra was jealous of the royal family, and would not invite her sisters-in-law to Sandringham.[66] Moreover, Alexandra never fully reconciled herself to Helena and Christian following their marriage controversy in the 1860s.[67]

Edwardian period

After Victoria

Bergsträsser was persuaded to drop his demand for a delay in publishing, and modify his copyright claims in return for a lump sum of money. However, the Queen and Helena refused, claiming that the copyright actually belonged to the Queen, and that only Sell's original preface was open to negotiation. The royal ladies considered Bergsträsser's claims "unjustified if not impertinent", and would not communicate with him directly.[64] Eventually, Bergsträsser came to Britain in January 1884, willing to accept £100 for the first 3000 copies and a further £40 for each subsequent thousand copies sold.[64] Martin chose the publisher John Murray, who after further negotiations with Bergsträsser, printed the first copies in mid-1884. It sold out almost immediately; but for the second edition, Murray replaced Sell's biographical sketch of Princess Alice with the 53-page memoir written by Helena. The problem of royalties to Sell was thus avoided, and the fact that Helena gave her name to the memoir to her sister attracted greater interest in the book.[65]

A copyright issue arose after the publication of letters written by Helena's sister, Princess Alice. In Germany, an edition of Alice's letters was published in 1883, by a Darmstadt clergyman called Dr. Carl Sell, who chose a selection of her letters made available to him by the Queen. When it was done, Helena wrote to Sell and requested permission to publish the German text into English, and it was granted, but without the knowledge of the publisher, Dr. Bergsträsser. In December 1883 Helena wrote to Sir Theodore Martin, a favoured royal biographer, informing him that Bergsträsser was claiming copyright of Alice's letters, and on that basis was demanding a delay in the publication of the English edition. Martin acted as an intermediary between Helena and Bergsträsser, who claimed to have received many offers from English publishers, and that the chosen one would expect a high honorarium.[63]

Bergsträsser affair

Among Helena's other interests was writing, especially translation. In 1867, when the first biography of her father, the Prince Consort was written, the author, Sir Charles Grey, notes that the Prince's letters were translated (from German to English) by Helena "with surprising fidelity".[60] Other translations followed, and in 1887 she published a translation of The Memoirs of Wilhelmine, Margravine of Bayreuth. It was noted by the Saturday Review that Helena wrote an English version that was thoroughly alive, with a sound dictionary translation and a high accuracy in spirit.[61] Her final translation was undertaken in 1882, on a German booklet called First Aid to the Injured, originally published by Christian's brother-in-law. It was republished several times until 1906.[62]


Helena was anxious to help children and the unemployed, and began hosting free dinners for their benefit at the Windsor Guildhall. She presided over two of these dinners, in February and March 1886, and over 3000 meals were served to children and unemployed men during the harsh Winter that year.[58] Through her charitable activities, she became popular with the people; a contemporary author, C. W. Cooper, wrote that "the poor of Windsor worshipped her".[59]

Helena was also active in the promotion of Royal Commissioners requesting money; for example, in 1895, she requested and acquired £30,000 for erecting a building for the school in South Kensington.[57] Her royal status helped its promotion, and she held Thursday afternoon tea parties at the school for society ladies, who wanted to be seen in the presence of royal personages such as Princess Helena. When the Christmas Bazaar was held, she acted as chief saleswoman, generating long queues of people anxious to be served personally by her.[58]


The RBNA gradually went into decline following the Isle of Wight, Windsor and Great Western Railway branches of the Order of St. John. In this position, she personally signed and presented many thousands of certificates of proficiency in nursing.[56]

Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the new Queen, Alexandra, insisted on replacing Helena as President of the Army Nursing Service.[51] This gave rise to a further breach between the royal ladies, with King Edward VII caught in the middle between his sister and his wife.[52] Lady Roberts, a courtier, wrote to a friend: "matters were sometimes very difficult and not always pleasant." However, in accordance with rank, Helena agreed to resign in Alexandra's favour, and she retained presidency of the Army Nursing Reserve.[51] Though thought to be merely an artefact created by society ladies,[53] Helena exercised an efficient and autocratic regime—"if anyone ventures to disagree with Her Royal Highness she has simply said, 'It is my wish, that is sufficient.'"[54]

Helena had a firm interest in nursing, and became President of the British Nurses' Association (RBNA) upon its foundation in 1887. In 1891, it received the prefix "Royal", and received the Royal Charter the following year.[49] She was a strong supporter of nurse registration, an issue that was opposed by both Florence Nightingale and leading public figures.[49] In a speech Helena made in 1893, she made clear that the RBNA was working towards "improving the education and status of those devoted and self-sacrificing women whose whole lives have been devoted to tending the sick, the suffering, and the dying".[50] In the same speech, she warned about opposition and misrepresentation they had encountered. Although the RBNA was in favour of registration as a means of enhancing and guaranteeing the professional status of trained nurses, its incorporation with the Privy Council allowed it to maintain a list rather than a formal register of nurses.[50]

Florence Nightingale, against whom Helena promoted nurse registration


Royal duties

Helena's health was not robust, and she was addicted to the drugs opium and laudanum.[44] However, the Queen did not believe that Helena was really ill, accusing her of hypochondria encouraged by an indulgent husband.[45] Queen Victoria wrote to her daughter Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia, complaining that Helena was inclined to "coddle herself (and Christian too) and to give way in everything that the great object of her doctors and nurse is to rouse her and make her think less of herself and of her confinement".[46] Not all of her health scares were brought on by hypochondria; in 1869, she had to cancel her trip to Balmoral Castle when she became ill at the railway station. In 1870, she was suffering from severe rheumatism and problems with her joints. In July 1871, she suffered from congestion in her lungs, an illness severe enough to appear in the Court Circular, which announced that her illness caused "much anxiety to members of the royal family".[47] In 1873, she was forced to recuperate in France as a result of illness, and in the 1880s she travelled to Germany to see an oculist for her eyes.[48]

Helena, as promised, lived close to the Queen, and both she and Beatrice performed duties for her. Beatrice, whom Victoria had groomed for the main role at her side, carried out the more important duties, and Helena took on the more minor matters that Beatrice did not have time to do.[42] In later years, Helena was assisted by her unmarried daughter, Helena Victoria, to whom the Queen dictated her journal in the last months of her life.[43]

The Christians were granted a parliamentary annuity of £6000 a year, which the Queen requested in person.[39] In addition, a dower of £30,000 was settled upon, and the Queen gave the couple £100,000, which yielded an income of about £4000 a year.[40] As well as that of Ranger of Windsor Park, Christian was given the honorary position of High Steward of Windsor, and was made a Royal Commissioner for the Great Exhibition of 1851. However, he was often an absentee figurehead at the meetings, instead passing his time playing with his dog Corrie, feeding his numerous pigeons, and embarking on hunting excursions.[41]

Helena and Christian were devoted to each other, and led a quiet life in comparison to Helena's sisters.[36] Following their marriage, they took up residence at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park, the traditional residence of the Ranger of Windsor Great Park, the honorary position bestowed on Christian by the Queen. When staying in London, they lived at the Belgian Suite in Buckingham Palace.[37] The couple had six children: Christian Victor in 1867, Albert in 1869, and Princesses Helena Victoria and Marie Louise in 1870 and 1872 respectively. Their last two sons died early; Harald died eight days after his birth in 1876, and an unnamed son was stillborn in 1877. Princess Louise, Helena's sister, commissioned the French sculptor Jules Dalou to sculpt a memorial to Helena's dead infants.[38]

Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein

Married life

The engagement was declared on 5 December 1865, and despite the Prince of Wales's initial refusal to attend, Princess Alice intervened, and the wedding was a happy occasion.[31] The Queen allowed the ceremony to take place at Duke of Cambridge, who had a sudden gout attack. Christian filed into the chapel with his two supporters, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar and Prince Frederic of Schleswig-Holstein, and Helena was given away by her mother, who escorted her up the aisle with the Prince of Wales and eight bridesmaids.[33] Christian looked older than he was, and one guest commented that Helena looked as if she was marrying an aged uncle. Indeed, when he was first summoned to Britain, he assumed that the widowed Queen was inspecting him as a new husband for herself rather than as a candidate for one of her daughters.[34] The couple spent the first night of their married life at Osborne House, before honeymooning in Paris, Interlaken and Genoa.[35]

Engagement and wedding

Despite the political controversies and their age difference—he was fifteen years her senior—Helena was happy with Christian and was determined to marry him.[27] As a younger son of a reigning duke, the absence of any foreign commitments allowed him to remain permanently in Britain—the Queen's primary concern—and she declared the marriage would go ahead.[28] Helena and Christian were actually third cousins in descent from [30]

Princess Helena and Prince Christian, part of a series of photographs following their engagement in 1865


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.