Further to my post about the documentary 'Queen Victoria's Children' , during the research for my forthcoming biography of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, I am frequently left in amazement at the myth of Queen Victoria being an uncaring mother, or one who was so self-obsessed and absorbed in her husband that her children were either neglected or bullied! Over and over again, her letters and diary entries are filled with references to her children – her concern for them, her love for them, how she misses them when they are absent, their little foibles and all the funny things that children do!
Prince Leopold is often cited as an example of neglect. His illness (haemophilia) often meant that he was left behind when the rest of the family carried out their regular migrations between Osborne, Windsor, Buckingham Palace and Balmoral – but, far from glad that he was absent (‘out of sight, out of mind’) the Queen worried about him and missed him. When, for example, towards the end of his life, Prince Albert insisted on returning to London from Osborne in order to carry out an engagement, Queen Victoria was aghast at having to leave’ poor little Leopold on his sickbed.’ When Leopold was sent to France to avoid the damp English winter, Queen Victoria described kitting him out in a new little suit and kissing him goodbye. A little later, she described running up and downstairs all day, tending her children who had measles. When Vicky was ill in Prussia, Queen Victoria was so appalled that she was being treated by leeches that she wanted to send her own specialist to offer alternative treatment. I could cite a thousand more examples of her concern for her children, and the way in which she refused to force any of them into a loveless marriage...I could also quote many examples of foreign royalties being deeply touched by the affection shown to the royal children by their loving parents!
I sincerely hope my forthcoming biography will lead to a reappraisal of the totally unjust accusation about her lack of maternal feeling!