A life of 'Ducky', the twice-married granddaughter of Queen Victoria. [A slightly revised paperback edition was published in 1994]
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Princess Victoria Melita, or 'Ducky' (1876-1936), was the second daughter of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and his wife Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, and therefore a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her second name was bestowed on er as she was the first (and so far only) princess born on the island of Malta.
Married at 17 to her cousin Ernest, Grand Duke of Hesse, she braved strong family opposition when the marriage failed and she wanted to divorce him. Her second marriage to another cousin, Grand Duke Cyril of Russia, led to three years' exile for both. They were later allowed to return to Russia, and when revolution toppled the Romanov empire in 1917 she, her husband and children left the country for Finland, evading the bolsheviks but living in straitened circumstances for three years.
Considering himself the senior surviving member of the family, Cyril proclaimed himself Tsar in 1924, much to the fury of most of the other Romanovs. Nevertheless they spent the rest of their lives in dignified if not always serene exile. Victoria Melita predeceased her husband by two years.
Using previously unpublished correspondence from the Royal Archives, Windsor, and the Astor Papers, this book presents a fascnating portrait of a princess set against the imperial courts of the turn of the century and its often bitter post-Great War aftermath.
[First published 1991, revised edition 2003]
'She carried tragedy within her - she had tragic eyes - always - even as a little girl - But we loved her enormously, there was something mighty about her - she was our Conscience.'
Queen Marie of Roumania, her elder sister, to Lady Astor, 4 March 1936