A collective biography of the children of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, who included King George V, and Queen Maud of Norway
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had six children. The youngest only lived for 24 hours, but the other five all reached maturity. Of these, only George V has received much attention from biographers. A conservatively-minded man, his reign was to span the Great War, the first Labour government, the advent of sound broadcasting, and the dawn of the age of the dictators.
The eldest, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, was a chronically backward youth whose early death was a tragedy for the family but in retrospect fortunate for the monarchy. (Though his private life was scandalous, rumours that he might have been 'Jack the Ripper' have however been disproved).
The three sisters, sometimes unkindly known as 'Their royal shynesses' - Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife, the spinster Victoria, and Maud, consort of Haakon VII, King of Norway - were never well-known to the British public, but new light shed upon their lives reveals how they supported the royal family and played their part in public life, albeit modestly, during a period of transition for the monarchy.
"He had had a terrible shock in the shipwreck! He was brave and never complained. I saw that he had felt the shock more deeply than we ever knew! He kept on and on but I saw he was failing. He cheered up and looked better here. He was always languid, but cheery and so thoughtful for us. Then he had a cold, a chill, that awful cough, and pain, and fever. He always smiled when we helped him, but at last he grew so weak, it tore my heart to hear the sob in his cough. He felt he was slipping from us. He said he would fight his illness as he had fought the waves - he only wanted to wait and help me and our children - and was very tired. He was ready for Heaven and now is at peace! Doctors, nurses, oxygen, all was done, but of no avail, he always went down, nothing on earth could hold him up. We sat by him and saw his precious life pass peacefully away."
Louise, Duchess of Fife, to Lady Alexander, 1 February 1912, on the death of her husband from pneumonia after being involved in a shipwreck off the Moroccan coast