Tag Archives: Kaiser Wilhelm

The Hoodooed Princesses: 1913

The "hoodooed" princesses of 1913.

The “hoodooed” princesses of 1913. Above, from left to right: Augustine Victoria, wife of Manual of Portugal, reported estranged within a month of their marriage, but now apparently on excellent terms with her husband again; Princess William, of Sweden, who found her husband, her father-in-law, and the Swedish court too dreadfully dull and ran away to Paris. Below: Princess Isabella, of Austria, who burned her bridal gown on her wedding night, left her husband and has procured an annulment; Princess Ernest August, of Cumberland, the Kaiser’s only daughter, whose happiness was endangered by a question of state and who was finally saved from her brothers by her father; Princess Eitel, wife of a son of the Kaiser. The latter’s reckless career has been ineffectually hushed up.

Hoodoo of 1913 Catches Five Princesses

Beauties of Royalty Find Love Jinx Hard to Escape.

Paris, France, Jan. 3. “So the prince and the princess were married and they lived happily ever afterward.”

That old fairy tale idea is sadly knocked in the head this year of 1913. No less than six royal princesses have gone on the rocks in their voyages toward a happy union. Some of the matrimonial craft have been patched up and are again navigating but, all in all, the proportion of rifted hearts and blighted romances in circles of the purple just at present makes the lot of the throne tenants far from enviable. The modest newlyweds in a cottage, with their baby, their vine-clad porch and their humble pleasures may well look with pity upon the high places of wealth, pomp and splendor.

First, there is the dramatic story of the princess who burned her wedding gown in her bed chamber on the bridal night. A tragic culmination to what was believed to be a pure love match. Little by little the tale of Prince George of Bavaria and Archduchess Isabella Marie, of Austria, has come out. He was a dashing officer, decorated by the Kaiser, the best middle-weight boxer in Germany. She was not only a pretty girl, but a great wit, a jolly good fellow.

And a hag of a gypsy plunged them into woe!

Whether the prince had been a trifle wild, as royal youths often are doesn’t matter. It would have happened just as it did anyway. The archduchess, when the prince, whom she dearly loved, proposed, foolishly put him off for 24 hours instead of falling into his arms with a “yes.”

Consults Family Gypsy.

She consulted the family gypsy.

“Ottilie—Ottilie,” whispered the crone. “I see an Ottilie who will come between you and your husband.”

The next day the archduchess accepted her prince, consulting her heart. She renounced her Austria royal rights to facilitate the marriage. Everywhere the union was admired. The two were supremely happy, it appeared to those around them.

Tells of Vision.

Overwrought on the night of her wedding, a vision appeared to her. Here is the story in her own words to one of her maids:

“When, upon my arrival in Munich, I entered my bedchamber in the evening, I suddenly remembered the words of the gypsy. The room itself looked mysterious. When I undressed myself and went to bed—how can I describe my horror.

“I beheld on the white pillow three drops of fresh, red blood. I jumped out of bed, trembling, and rang the bell. Nobody came. I began to pray. Soon I heard a weird noise and, looking around, I saw distinctly the figure of a pretty young girl in a night gown, staring at my ironically. How she had come in, I do not know. She just walked to the bed and occupied it without a world. I trembled all over.

“Madame,” she whispered, “this is not your bed, it is mine.”

“She was pretty, with dark long lashes and black eyes, just as the gypsy had told me. I asked:

“Are you Otillie?” She nodded and whispered: “Certainly I am. What do you want of me?”

When the princess opened her eyes, the prince was kneeling over her, keeping a towel with cold water on her head. She wildly questioned him. Who was Otillie? He stammered and stumbled, as he well might, perhaps never having heard the name before.

“It’s true,” she cried. A wild scene ensured. A few hours later they had separated forever.

The marriage was annulled. Prince George took his place alongside the three divorced sovereigns of Europe, King Frederick August, of Saxony; Grand Duke Ernest Ludwig, of Hesse, and Prince Albert I, of Monaco.

Solves Problem With Death.

But to proceed with this fateful year’s developments.

The hateful subterfuge of a morganic marriage is a possible resort when a prince falls in love with a “common” girl. But what when a princess prefers a commoner to all the sickly crowned youth put before her for her selection?

The latter was the problem of the beautiful Sophie, of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and she solved it with—death.

It is a sad position which the house of Saxe-Weimar occupies—ancient and royal as the hills, but so impecunious their palace furnishings are threadbare.

The princess had been betrothed to a dissipated, middle-aged cousin, and had broken the engagement only by personal appeal to the Kaiser. A young lieutenant, whom she may have loved, had shot himself dead for her in Athens five years before and the crown princess of Greece, sister to the Kaiser, had wept real tears at his burial. The men of the house had in several cases found happiness outside of the purple. Her uncle, Duke Bernard, found a loving wife, and her brother, Prince Hermann, was also serene in his possession of a life partner not born to the palace. Her own father had fled to America in his youth and had even worked as a waiter in New York for a time. But what of the women of the family? Such exits from court restraint were barred to them. She was a proud girl, past 25, living a life without love.

There appeared the young von Bleichroeder, member of the banking house which is said to have made possible the German victory over France in 1870. The Kaiser, pitying the melancholy royal girl—he had even looked with favor on the young lieutenant—consented, but the grand duke of Saxony, head of the house, would not listen.

Is Made a Prisoner.

Then came an incident in the forest of Fontainebleau, near Paris. A gypsy’s child was killed by a magnificent motor car and in the car, it came out, had been the handsome young banker and Princess Sophie. After that Sophie kept to her room in the ancient, threadbare palace. She was practically under arrest.

She slept late one morning. A maid knocked long and hard and finally dared to push open the door. Across the bed lay a white form, a pistol clutched in her hand and an untied packet of letters half strewn upon the coverlet.

She had been called the most lovely princess in the world, but of this world she was no longer.

The Scandal of Princess William.

Then there is the scandal of the princess William. Lacking perhaps the tragic elements of the stories of Sophie and Isabella, it yet is not without its melancholy features. She had been a grand duchess of Russia, used to the gay and sometimes wanton life of the court of St. Petersburg. She is wedded to a cold Swedish prince. Her money buys him a palace. She is everything and he is nothing. The liveliest dancer, the brightest wit, the most sparkling figure in all Sweden, she is forced to endure the companionship of a stupid husband and the frown of an austere royal father-in-law. Of course she should have borne her trials, for the sake of her children if for no other reason, but modern human nature is prone to break restraints. Patient Griselda’s are rare today. She ran away to Paris. Ugly rumors followed. It was said she had betrayed her husband’s country to her fatherland—had sold Swedish military secrets to Russia. But such tales always rise in such circumstances. Perhaps we had better believe the dashing princess herself—that Stockholm was too deadly dull for endurance.

Honor First, Then Love.

It is hard for Americans to understand the circumstances which caused Prince Ernest Augustus, of Cumberland, to exclaim: “For me and my family honor comes first, then love!” He was and is dead in love with the Kaiser’s only daughter, now his wife, when he said it. We must remember how the iron hand of Bismarck closed upon and crushed the house of Hanover. It was a bitter wrong not forgot.

For a time it looked as though a bit of almost ancient history might defeat one of the few royal love matches. But the Kaiser is not so eager for crushing hearts—he has seen too many saddening incidents. He thought twice before he took a step which might have shattered his pretty daughter’s happiness—have made her a second Sophie, of Saxe-Weimar. His impetuous and imperialistic sons thought differently. They would have bereft the Hanoverian house of its last vestige of claim to its honors. But the Kaiser’s will prevailed. So it ever will be known whether the prince of Cumberland would have carried out his threat of resigning from the German army and retiring with his bride to live a peaceful, secluded life on their estate sin upper Austria, letting thrones go hang. The Kaiser undoubtedly breathed freer. His sons and his daughters and his relatives to the nth degree are not the least of his troubles. He was already worrying over his son, Eitel Frederick. Prince Eitel is a heavy, phlegmatic sort of individual. His wife, Sophie, of Oldenburg, is several years older, many times a millionaire, and a lover of good times, like Princess William, of Sweden.

Mystery in Manuel’s Life.

Lastly we come to the mysterious case of Manuel, late king of Portugal, and his bride, Augustine Victoria. They are not living together apparently in good terms. The absence of Manuel during his bride’s serious illness just after their marriage is unexplained, but the less said of it the better. Let us hope their royal bark is well enough repaired to weather all further storms.

El Paso [TX] Herald 3 January 1914: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: And a very happy Friday the Thirteenth to all! Mrs Daffodil is always amused by how distorted accounts of European royalty are in the American press. Let us look first at the story of Archduchess Isabella of Austria and Prince Georg of Bavaria. One does not find the story of the gypsy hag in the traditional histories. However, the Duchess’s wedding gown and trousseau were burnt just before the wedding. There were rumours that the Archduchess was in some way implicated. The couple were quite unhappy. They separated before the honeymoon was over; the marriage was annulled for nonconsummation (despite family statements that the couple merely had fundamental incompatabilities of character); and the discarded bridegroom later became a Catholic priest.  Archduchess Isabella became a nurse, serving gallantly in the First World War. She became engaged to a surgeon, but Emperor Franz Joseph refused his permission to marry. She never wed another.

Princess Sophie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (really, these smaller noble houses are as bad as the Russians or the Spanish with their strings of surnames.) fell in love with Baron Hans von Bleichröder, a wealthy banker of Heidelburg, but because of the difference in their station and religion, she was forbidden to marry him. While on holiday with von Bleichröder, Sophie hit and killed a child in France. Von Bleichröder paid compensation to the family and Sophie’s family tried to hush up the affair, but Sophie’s depression over taking a life and the scandal over her love affair with the banker led her to commit suicide in 1913.

Princess William of Sweden was the unhappy Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. She and Prince Wilhelm had one child before divorcing. The Prince, who was known to have many artistic and scholarly interests, began a relationship with sculptor Jeanne de Tramcourt immediately after the divorce; they lived happily together for many years until she was killed in an automobile accident. Grand Duchess Maria married a Russian Prince, escaped the Russian Revolution, opened an embroidery atelier, and wrote two books about her eventful life.

Sophie of Oldenburg married Prince Eitel Frederick, the brutal second son of the Kaiser. They divorced amid mutual accusations of adultery.

King Manuel of Portugal and his Dresden-china bride, Princess Augusta Victoria, initially separated during an illness early in their marriage. One speculates about nameless diseases; Manuel had formed a deep attachment to actress and dancer Gaby Deslys in Paris; he only gave her up when she moved to the United States in 1911. He married Princess Augusta Victoria in 1914.

Prince Ernst August ‘s father, Prince Ernest Augustus, 3rd Duke of Cumberland, refused to give up his claim to the throne of Hanover and also styled himself Duke of Brunswick. When Prince Ernst wished to marry Princess Viktoria Luise, only daughter of the Kaiser, the Duke of Cumberland turned over the Brunswick title to his son and became reconciled with the Hohenzollerns. The wedding was the last great gathering of European sovereigns before the Great War brought down so many royal dynasties.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Empress Augusta’s Appalling Christmas Gifts: 1873

Berlin Victory Column

The Siegessäule: The Victory Column in Berlin.

This narrative is from Princess Catherine Radziwill, wife of a Polish Prince, living in Berlin.

The first Christmas that followed upon my marriage was thus spent in all the gloom of black clothes. [in mourning for The Queen Dowager, widow of King Frederick William IV] On the 26th of December, the Empress appeared at my mother-in-law’s, accompanied by her daughter, the Grand Duchess of Baden, and brought with her an enormous bag filled with various trifles which she distributed among us as Christmas presents. These occasions were dreaded by everybody, as anything more hideous than the knick-knacks the poor Empress used to bring could hardly be imagined. My husband, with his cousins, had composed on the subject a little song of which the refrain was:—

‘Un vilain, vilain, vilain cadeau de la Reine; Un vilain, vilain cadeau de la Reine.’

The fact was that she never gave a pretty thing, and on this particular Christmas, the first in my experience when I was admitted among the recipients of her bounty, I remember having been scared by the sight of an appalling thermometer in green bronze representing the Column of Victory in Berlin, which in itself is a hideous monument. As my ill luck would have it, I was made the unhappy recipient of this monstrosity, and never could get rid of it in after life. No matter where I moved, the dreadful thing followed me. It would not get broken, or lost, or even mislaid; it was impossible to give it to a bazaar, and I expect that one day it will turn up again from one of my boxes, when I least expect it.

These presents of the Queen remind me of an adventure which befell one of them, and caused my poor mother-in-law a few sleepless nights. She had received for a birthday present from the Empress a table in white china ornamented by her Majesty herself with paintings of the kind called Decalcomanie. It was anything but beautiful, and was at once relegated to a dark corner of the apartment, whence it only emerged when the good Augusta was expected. This kind of thing lasted for about two years, when at last my mother-in-law thought she might venture to dispose of the ugly thing, and gave it to a bazaar held in her own house. She carefully waited until the Empress had paid it a visit, and then, feeling sure of impunity, sent it there. As it happened the Emperor appeared the next day, and after having been taken round the rooms was at once caught by the unfortunate table, and in spite of frantic efforts made by my sister-in-law to prevent him, proceeded to buy it as a present for the Empress. One may imagine the consternation! However, Augusta, if she recognised her own present, showed herself merciful, for she made no allusion to its fate

My Recollections, Princess Catherine Radziwill, 1904

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil is pleased to see that even aristocratic houses have difficulty with holiday tat and with the vicissitudes of “re-gifting,” as it is so gratingly called. “Rubbish removal” would be a more accurate term, although Mrs Daffodil recognises that, as happens in some marriages, there are occasions when, through no fault on either side, mutual sympathy is lacking.

Mrs Daffodil will give an example. The entire staff is awaiting Christmas morning at the Hall when Mr Kidd, the butler, will open his gift from the footmen: a prismatic Dunhill “Aquarium” lighter, resplendent with multi-coloured fish. It is quite a good lighter in its way and would undoubtedly have pride of place in the rooms of an undergraduate or a bookie. Whether it will be as well-received by the fastidious Mr Kidd, who prides himself on his Cartier cigar-cutter and his humidor smuggled out of the smoking room at Sandringham, remains to be seen.

To be Relentlessly Informative, the deceased Queen Dowager was Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria who died 14 December, 1873.  Princess Catherine Radziwill was married to a Polish Prince; they lived in Berlin to be close to his family and she spent a good deal of time at Court until a series of amusingly scurrilous letters she published under a pseudonym, attracted the attention of the authorities. Empress Augusta was, of course, the well-beloved wife of Kaiser Wilhelm. It seems, from the anecdote above, that their tastes were well-matched.

For a previous post on the more tasteful gifts of the British royal family, please follow this link.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Royal Children and Their Toys: 1900

Mrs Daffodil is certain that the entire Empire joins her in wishing joy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their new daughter. The infant princess will undoubtedly be showered with toys from well-wishers around the world, which, according to tradition, her elder brother will try to take away.  Mrs Daffodil thought it would be amusing to see what toys the royal children of the past enjoyed.

royal children and their toys

By F. Nevill L. Jackson

The child being father to the man, it is interesting to know the likes and dislikes, and the influences which are creating the minds and wills of the future men and women who will occupy the thrones of Europe, or stand close beside them. It may be said that toys are such unimportant matters that they are unworthy of the attention of the student of life and times; but to the little people chiefly concerned they are very important. Who would underrate the influence of the military surroundings and military toys provided from earliest childhood by the Kaiser for the Crown Prince of Prussia, in assisting the military training which has now begun in earnest? In the nursery he drilled his five brothers and baby sister with the severity of a martinet; though it is said that in disposition he resembles his gentle mother rather than his imperious father.

On his tenth birthday he became a real soldier, being made a lieutenant in his father’s Grenadier Regiment. The toy guns and miniature swords had well prepared him for the important moment when the regiment was drawn up in a hollow square in the Lustgarten. ‘Kronprinz Frederich Wilhelm,’ as he is called by his teachers and school-fellows, walked on to the parade-ground with the Kaiser, surrounded by all the Princes of the Imperial family. The Kaiser made a speech in which he dwelt on the importance of the discipline of the army; the young Prince then advanced with drawn sword, presented himself to the captain of the company, Von Plushow. In the march past that followed, some laughed to see the eager little boy running along to keep up with the huge strides of the big Grenadiers; others thought the sight somewhat pathetic. When the march past was over the young Prince was presented to the other officers as a young comrade; and he went back to his royal home in proud possession of a real sword. Such were the playfellows and the toys of Prince Wilhelm when he was ten years old.

German princes at tennis

There is a photo in this article showing the young Hohenzollerns after a game of tennis. To play tennis is not exactly to play with toys, but we give the photograph as it illustrates a distinct feature in the education of the Kaiser’s family. His first idea is to make good soldiers and sailors out of his children, his second, to make them as English as possible, so far as regards sport, games, and all manner of athletic exercises. Notice the tennis costume—English, and yet somehow one can see that the wearers are not of our nationality. Prince Eitel Fritz has been provided with toy ships, anchors, compasses, and when tired of such costly toys, passed many a happy half-hour with a piece of string in which such intricate knots were tied as would have puzzled Captain Kettle himself, who, we feel sure, was a past master in the art of rope knotting and splicing. Such were the toys meant to encourage the love for the naval career for which the lad is destined.

czar of russia in 1879

Very curious is our photo of that other lord of great armies, the Czar of all the Russians, when a little boy. His costume is that of a sailor, but observe the drum in the background. No less than the Kaiser’s children, those of the Russian Imperial family undergo a military education, and are from earliest years familiarised, through the medium of toys and picture-books, with the working of guns, the uniforms of various regiments, and the military history of their country. The little Czar does not look very happy; one is almost tempted to think that even at the early age when the photograph was taken, he felt a secret disgust of things military— vague foreshadowings, perhaps, of his famous disarmament project.

Our own Royal children are given toy guns and soldiers, flags, drums, and uniforms for the sake of keeping them amused, and for no other reason. We in England are happily not yet such slaves of the sword as to be under the necessity of training our children, whether royal or otherwise, from birth upwards to regard the military profession as the one profession worthy of a man. However, our young princes take quite as much de light in sham armies and battles as their Continental cousins. Little Prince Edward, especially, is great on flags and sabres. He delights in marching gravely about, the flag over his shoulder, the sabre dangling at his side, and every now and again stopping to shout “Hurrah!” as he heard the people shout after the relief of Mafeking…

The old custom of clearing out from nursery cupboards and drawers many of the toys of the past year before Father Christmas unloads his sack of new treasures still obtains in the Royal nurseries of the present generation; and many a hospital ward is brightened, and little sufferers forget for a moment their aches and pains as they play with the toys the chubby fingers of Royal babies have last caressed. This kindly plan might well be emulated by other little people who are lucky enough to have new toys long before the old ones are worn out.

Princess Alice of Albany and her doll

Princess Alice of Albany and her doll

It is an interesting fact that during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays at Osborne, the old toys which once belonged to the Queen’s children are brought down from those top shelves to which they were relegated long ago, and for as long as the holidays last the children of the younger generation are allowed to play with them. This is an anxious time for the nurses, for they are held responsible for the safety of the relics, and extreme care is taken in order to preserve the old toys; for the Queen is very fond of them, remembers each one, and asks for any which may not happen to appear. There is a fortress, which was an especial favourite with the Prince of Wales; it has been played with during the Christmas holidays many a time by the late Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York when they were boys, and is now looked at with intense interest by the baby blue eyes of the Duke of York’s children. The little brass guns of this fortress were mounted in their present position by the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, now a grandfather himself, whose clever, eager fingers were always apt at delicate work, from the driving of a screw to the wielding of a violin bow. Some of the mechanical animals, which were much rarer toys in the fifties than they are now, can still be made to work, and the little fat hands are clapped with joy in the Osborne nursery to-day when a woolly dog ambles along the floor with ungainly leaps, and the skin elephant moves his trunk up and down, while the mouth opens and shuts. These give as keen a sense of delight to the third or fourth generation as they did to the little ones in the Windsor nursery long ago. There is a certain bagatelle board which the Queen’s sons played with; it is often brought out for the children in the Christmas holidays.

Princess Margaret of Connaught and her doll.

Princess Margaret of Connaught and her doll.

To go further back still into the past, mention must certainly be made of the hundred and thirty-two dolls belonging to the Queen. These dolls are still preserved, together with a record of them found in a copybook yellow with age. On the inside of the cover is written in the clear text hand of childhood, “List of my dolls,” showing that little Princess Victoria was methodical in the care of her toys, for entries follow in which the name of the doll is given, by whom it was dressed, and the character it represents. The Queen herself dressed no fewer than thirty-two dolls, which, being all of the rag description, [incorrect—they are mostly penny-woodens] would be looked upon with contempt by the little misses of the present day, whose dolls are frequently made and dressed in Paris. Blots of red paint, unmistakeably from the Royal nursery paint-boxes, adorn the cheeks of some of the Court beauties, and it is noteworthy that the people of the great outside world were used as models by the little girl for her dolls. If any Court lady dressed in the extreme of the fashion of the period she was at once noted by Her Majesty’s quick eye, and a place was found for her in the collection; her dress being copied to a nicety, for the Queen was an expert needlewoman. Her Majesty was not one of those who soon outgrow dolls, she was devoted to them and played with them until she was fourteen years old—always loving the small ones best. The small wooden Dutch dolls which can be bought for a penny were largely used in her historical collection. The doll’s house which now stands in the Osborne nurseries for the use of the children of Princess Beatrice is a much grander affair than that which was the toy of the lonely little girl in Kensington Palace; but that is of no consequence, for the charm of a toy is, that its relative beauty and grandeur has nothing to do with the charm it exercises in the mind of its possessor; there is not the slightest doubt about this; as much happiness (perhaps more) was obtained by the past generation of children out of their simple toys as is got out of the elaborately dressed dolls and intricate mechanical toys which fill the nurseries of the present day.

Prince Albert of York and his toy carriage

Prince Albert of York and his toy carriage

The most popular toy with grown up people as with children, with Royal children as with ordinary children, is undeniably the bicycle. We pity people who lived in the days when bicycles were a rarity— indeed, it is almost impossible to imagine so primitive an age. Most of our children have these wonderful toys, and it may be safely affirmed that there is not a single Royal child, provided that the child is old enough to take care of itself, who is not the happy possessor of a bicycle or tricycle. I know for a certainty that the Emperor of Germany’s children may be seen almost every day cycling furiously about the grounds of Potsdam. They are great at cycling, as at all other sports. But it is extremely likely that these young people will have to content themselves with walking and riding in the near future. The Kaiser, it is said, has been converted by the anticyclists to the preposterous theory that bicycling is unhealthy, and all that relates in any way to the health is of extreme importance to His Majesty. A charming photograph accompanying this article shows the Ladies Duff mounted on their tricycles. They are very independent children, and are allowed to ride long distances without any escort.

duff cyclists royal children

The nurseries at Osborne are large rooms, comfortably and simply furnished; their outlook is across the Solent, and splendid views of the beautiful Osborne gardens are obtained. The papering is white, with large bouquets of rosebuds; the floor is carpeted all over; a paper scrap screen stands on one side of the fireplace. Flowered chintz is the covering of the chairs; skin horses, cows, bears, a pump—that joy of every child’s heart—and a few mechanical toys placed out of reach of little fingers, for these are always displayed by the nurses, as they are much used and well-beloved.

We must not omit to mention another Royal playroom, namely, the private sitting-room of Her Majesty the Queen; for here, early in the morning, before State papers have to be looked at, or at that cosy hour of dusk, which is essentially the children’s hour, the floor of the Queen’s sitting-room is often littered with toy dolls, picture-books, and treasured headless pets; for Her Majesty loves to hear the echo of pattering feet and the sound of children’s voices in laughter and play.

Alexander of Battenberg and his toy wheelbarrow

Alexander of Battenberg and his toy wheelbarrow

Perhaps of all the branches of the English Royal Family, the Battenberg is the most unassuming in tis manners, and the simplest in its way of living. The children of very many commoners’ families are brought up with infinitely more state than the Battenbergs, and in luxury that would open the eyes of these princes and princesses. Rare and valuable toys were never seen in the Battenberg nursery; the children have to content themselves with plain story-books, scrap-books, gardening utensils, cheap dolls, and such toys as all of us played with when we were young.

The favourite toys of the little Queen of Holland were always the dainty gardening implements with which she worked for an hour every day when at Het Loo, her simple home near the Hague. The love of things horticultural is almost a natural instinct with the Dutch, the nation of gardeners, and the tiny beds in the piece of ground set apart as the miniature real garden were raked, hoed, and planted by little Queen Wilhelmina herself, unassisted except in the  heavier work of digging

Military toys and military drill have always been the delight of the little King of Spain. When he was seven years old the Royal corps was recruited with the sons of the Duke of Sotomayor, the Countess of Sartago, and the son of General Aquitte de Tejada. A special uniform was made, similar to that of the Infantry Cadets, and the joy of the boys when first this real play soldiering was commenced can be imagined. The drilling was, of course, done in strict privacy, at the royal estate of the Casa de Campo, about ten minutes’ walk from the Palace, The drilling, which was directed by one of the military tutors of Alfonzo XIII., was correct in every detail, and the lessons acquired unconsciously in play will stand the lads in good stead later on.

Julie of Battenberg and her toy horse.

Julie of Battenberg and her toy horse.

The Duchess of Albany has always had the strictest ideas with regard to toys for her children, and has specially directed their minds towards the animal world in choosing their playthings and playfellows. Christmas was a busy time at Claremont, as doubtless it will be in their new home. The pleasure in the toys given away to the children on the estate was always much enhanced by the fact that they were presented by the Duchess of Albany or by the young Duke. Strange to say, the latter’s sister takes more pleasure in her pony than she ever did in her dolls.

A very amusing photograph is that of Prince Arthur of Connaught, in the toy uniform of a grenadier. It was thus he appeared at Princess Beatrice’s wedding. The solemn, almost stern, expression on his fat little face is delightful. He fully appreciates the dignity his uniform imparts.

Prince Arthur of Connaut in toy uniform

In the last photograph illustrating this article little Prince Edward of York is to be seen holding the donkey quiet while the photographer takes an impression of the little toy chaise and its occupants. The photograph gives one the idea that Prince Edward is in charge. It goes without saying, however, that there is invariably a groom in attendance, as in the photograph that heads this article: Donkeys occasionally lose their tempers, and then even so puissant an individual as our future Sovereign might find it beyond his power to keep them from doing mischief.

york and fife children

The Royal Magazine, Volume 4, 1900

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has written several times on royal babies and their royal or imperial Mamas, as in this post on royal cradles, and this one on an amusing, if imaginary, nursery contretemps by Prince Albert. She has also told tales of some spoilt royal children, including the Kaiser’s eldest son, who had a complete collection of child-sized Prussian military uniforms bestowed by his doting parent, who so enjoyed the Rape of Belgium.

The dolls beloved of Queen Victoria still exist in the Royal Collection, but are not usually displayed since they are rather fragile. At least one is exhibited at the Museum of London. Here is an historic look at the dolls and here is an article with many excellent illustrations.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



Saturday Snippets: 27 July 2013: Royal Baby Edition, Czarevitch conspiracy, spoilt son of the Kaiser, Queen Wilhelmina baby watch and royal pram.

royal baby of England

The young English prince, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, later King Edward VIII. One is relieved that the new royal baby has a less exhausting name.

A round-up of stories about (mostly) royal infants to celebrate the happy advent of young Prince George.


Revolutionists Say Peasant Child Was Put in Royal Cradle.

Paris, Aug. 19. Russian revolutionists here declare positively that the Empress of Russia really gave birth to a female child, for whom another birth, a male child, was substituted—a peasant woman’s baby.

The Nihilists say that the internal condition of Russia is such that had the people been disappointed again in their hope of the birth of a czarevitch, a revolt would have been imminent.

Improbable as this story appears, it must be remembers that the revolutionists have extraordinary underground means of intercommunication all over Europe. No one can doubt that men who are revolutionists at heart have access to the innermost recesses of the czar’s palaces. Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 20 August 1904: p. 2  [An ingenious conspiracy theory, such as we have seen in the case of the Princess Royal of England, but knocked firmly on the head by what we now know about the czarevitch’s hereditary medical condition.]


The Czarina is determined that nothing regarding her son’s birth and progress shall be forgotten. In one album articles are collected from all the papers of the world, congratulating Russia upon having an heir, while in another are kept interesting newspaper clippings relating to the child’s life.

One of her majesty’s secretaries is always engaged in studying new literature on the subject of baby-rearing published in every part of the world.

Most of these books come from America, Germany, England, and France. A summary is prepared of any new theory of dieting or treatment, and these the empress reads, making notes in her own handwriting of any point which interests her. The Minneapolis [MN] Journal 15 July 1905: p. 2 

What Happens in Berlin When the Crown Prince’s Baby Goes Out of Doors

At the guard-houses there is considerable fuss made whenever any royalty passes that way. It is the duty and the only duty, of the sentry on guard to keep his eye open for royalty. When he sees it—and he seems to have a remarkably long range of vision—he yells at the top of his by no means musical voice. The rest of the guard drop their cards and pipes, rush precipitately out, fall in, and present arms with drums beating. This sort of thing is gone through with every time any royalty passes. Even the infant children of the Crown Prince receive the same homage. There is something strange in seeing a lot of grown men present arms to a year-old infant. But they do it every time the nurse of the Crown Prince’s family takes the children out for an airing. But this “isn’t a circumstance,” as Chicago says, to what, according to the story of one of the American colony, happened here once. The nurse had a little child of the Crown Prince out for a walk, and happened to pass one of the guard-houses. The sentry on duty yelled, the guard turned out and present arms, while the drums beat. Just as the nurse and child got in front of the line of soldiers, the child espied a heap of nice, clean sand suitable for the manufacture of mud-pies. The instinct of the child got the better of its training; it broke away from its nurse and began to play in the sand. The nurse protested, entreated, begged—but it was of no use. That child was bound to indulge in a little plebeian amusement. It had its own way, and played in the sand until it had satisfied its royal mind, and all this time the guard stood at “present arms,” while the drummer nearly wore his drumhead out. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 27 May 1882: p. 9 


Baby Thrown Out Found Later to Have $10,000 Pinned to Clothing

A smart motor car with a young man and a pretty woman in it rove up to a tiny fishing village on the Brittany coast this week and stopped at a road mender’s cottage, which was empty for the time being. The young man sprang out with a large bundle, left it in the house, jumped in to the car again and drove off rapidly in the direction of Brest. The road mender’s wife, on reaching home opened the bundle and found therein a healthy baby about eight days old. Having babies enough of her own, she put the unwelcome infant out of doors and calmly left it there. A peasant woman passing by, hearing the child cry took pity on it and carried it to her home. Undressing the baby, she found $10,000 in bank notes pinned to its clothes, but not the slightest indication as to its identity. She is going to be a devoted second moth to the child, while the road mender’s wife bitterly repents her uncharitableness. Mexico Missouri Message 7 December 1905: p. 7 


Dutch Women and Princess Awaiting an Interesting Event.

A probable interesting event in the household of young Queen Wilhelmina draws the polite attention of all Holland and all Europe, says the Paris Messenger.

Every woman in Holland looks toward the coming event with as much interests as if it were going to happen in the house of her own sister or daughter.

As is usual in such cases, there is a universal desire that the new baby should be a boy. Some of the Queen’s relatives urged that she should consult the celebrated Dr. Schenk of Vienna, who tried with so little success to secure a son to the Czarina of Russia, but Queen Wilhelmina showed the wise conservatism for which the Dutch are justly celebrated, and trusts to her luck.

Most of the queens and princesses of Europe are at this moment engaged in preparing some article for the layette. In nearly every case they are decorating their gifts with blue ribbon that being the color appropriate for a boy.

Even busier than the queens and princesses are the good wives, or vrouws, of Holland. Such a stitching of little dresses, nightgowns, pillow cases, coverlets, and so on was never before heard of in the history of that exceptionally industrious country. The leading women of every city in Holland are going to contribute some article to the layette. The women of Amsterdam, for instance, will present a Dutch baby’s linen cap, with the big ear-pieces sticking straight out at the sides. This will be encrusted with pearls and diamonds. Around it will run a tiny strip of blue ribbon to indicate that the wearer will be a king and not a mere princess. [Unlike its “mere” mother, the Queen.]

One of the most interesting presents is the cushion which the wives of the cabinet ministers are preparing. Immediately after its birth the baby will be placed on this cushion and the cushion on a silver salver, will then be offered for inspection to the cabinet ministers, who will certify to its sex and that it is a genuine member of the royal family.

A beautiful christening robe is to be the present of the women of The Hague, where the royal wedding took place. This will be of white silk, figured and trimmed with eiderdown. It will have diamond buttons. [One hopes those buttons were sewed on firmly given the infant propensity for ingesting anything attached to their person.]

A magnificent cradle of beaten silver will be the gift of the ladies of the Dutch nobility. A life-sized angel hovers over the head of the cradle, while at the foot is an equally life-sized baby. The sides are decorated with the arms of Holland and Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 13 October 1901: p. 8 

A Royal Baby Carriage

Princess Juliana of Holland has joined the ranks of the caravanners. A marvelous construction—should it be called a “carambulator” or a “car spram” has been devised for the little Dutch princess wherein, when the weather is cold and the sun shines only in certain parts of the Het Loo, she can be conveyed from the palace to the sunshine.

It is, as a matter of fact, a giant covered perambulator containing a stove and seats for nurses, besides the bassinette for the royal baby; and it is, of course, drawn by a horse. If she were an English princess she would at once be nominated patroness of the Caravan Club.

The Queen of Holland herself is said to have invented this new baby carriage for her daughter. It is not the first time she has displayed ingenuity of an inventive character. Tensas Gazette [St. Joseph, LA] 8 July 1910: p. 6 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Crown Prince’s baby in the anecdote above was Friedrich Wilhelm Victor Augustus Ernest , the eldest son of Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor. Just as the Kaiser disliked his mother, young Wilhelm was constantly at odds with his father: over the young man’s many entanglements with women, over his marriage, over the conduct of (or the necessity for) the Great War, and over post-war politics. The Kaiser was an overbearing tyrant, but perhaps if the nurse had done less entreating and the child had not had his way so often, things might have turned out differently.