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John Van der Kiste

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Publisher:  Alan Sutton ISBN-10:  0750908254 Type: 


Copyright:  Jul 1 1995

Sutton Publishing

Childhood for princes and princesses at the British court, from the childhood of Queen Victoria to the outbreak of the Great War

What was childhood like for royalty in the Victorian and Edwardian period? This book examines in lively detail their education, recreation and general upbringing. We read of Queen Victoria's isolated childhood, dominated largely by an unscrupulous comptroller who shamelessly tried to manipulate her as he did her widowed mother, the Duchess of Kent; the formative years of her children at Windsor, Osborne and Balmoral, under the supervision of Prince Albert and his mentor Baron Stockmar, and a procession of tutors and governesses; the more indulgent family life of the Prince and Princess of Wales, later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra; and the stricter, unbending Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary.

There are glimpses of Prince Waldemar of Prussia, who enjoyed collecting fossils on the Isle of Wight and terrifying his grandmother with a pet crocodile; Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein, the first prince to attend public school, but who found cricket more congenial than academic study; and Prince Louis of Battenberg, the future Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was thrilled to be able to record his voice on a wax cylinder, a primitive forerunner of the gramophone. Contrasts are drawn between childhood at the English court and that of the Queen's descendants in European capitals, such as Berlin and St Petersburg. The differing attitudes of royal parents are described, from Queen Victoria, who found babies very ugly and 'froglike', to Queen Alexandra, who hosted children's parties for her children when they were adults.

This book, including nearly 70 illustrations, draws upon a wealth of personal memoirs and letters, some previously unpublished, to evoke the childhood world of a long-vanished age.
'You must think me a brute for not having written before but cricket has taken up all my time. Midge has got his 2nd XI. I get horribly humbuged about it because I am always walking with him & going up to the house on Sundays. But I don't give a d- what the fellows say. Every one in the XI voted when we made up the 2nd XI...Please excuse the Coll[ege] paper & the writing but I am writing this in the Algebra Exam, & as you know I always had a more intimate acquaintance with 'square leg' than 'square root'. Also the curve I am most acquainted with is that 'peculiar' one which is often followed by a fall of the stumps.'

Prince Christian Victor to a friend, 20 July 1884

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