Following the death of his mother in , Bertie — now King Edward VII — defied expectations by proving himself to be a very successful and well-loved monarch, paving the way for an alliance with France.
A French childhood
The French had been wholeheartedly on the side of the Boers during their war with Britain at the turn of the century, but the king charmed president, ministers and citizens alike on a goodwill visit to Paris in Notorious for his hearty appetite, King Edward was in increasingly poor health during his later years — he suffered in particular from a chronic bronchial condition — and died from heart problems in May , at the age of Sign up to receive our newsletter! Sign up to our free newsletter to get the latest on Queen Victoria and more. From an early age, Alice was an exceptionally caring individual, always keen to help others less fortunate than herself.
When the family stayed at Balmoral, their private home in the Scottish Highlands, she would sometimes visit the local cottagers, taking them food and clothing. Later, when her father, Prince Albert, was clearly dying, she spent much of her time looking after him and trying to make his last days comfortable. After his death, she provided unstinting moral support to her grief-stricken mother. A thoughtful, ever-questioning personality, she became friends with the theologian David Friedrich Strauss. A combination of overwork and profound depression after the death of her young son Frederick — a haemophiliac who died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of two — left Alice world-weary and in poor health.
In letters to close family and confidantes, Prince Albert occasionally remarked with regret that this second son would never inherit the crown, unless anything happened to his elder brother. Alfred was made Duke of Edinburgh in Having joined the navy at the age of 14 in , Alfred steadily rose through the ranks to become an admiral of the fleet. In , after the Greeks deposed their unpopular and childless king Otho, Alfred was overwhelmingly elected in a plebiscite to succeed him, but political considerations ruled out the possibility of a British prince accepting such a position.
At an official function in Sydney, Australia, he almost fell victim to an assassination plot. Although Alfred recovered quickly, he nonetheless curtailed his world trip and was sent back to England to recover.
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He resumed his travels in , visiting Australia again; Fiji; Japan; India and South America, returning to England nearly three years later. The first member of the royal family to take an interest in postage stamps, he laid the foundations for the Royal Philatelic Collection. He died from cancer in July , predeceasing his mother by six months.
In she wed the impoverished German Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, who was content to make his home in England with her under the ever-watchful eye of Queen Victoria. As a result, Helena was spared the sadness that her sister Alice had known of living in a small defeated German state. She also helped to write a biography of Prince Albert, translating letters from German to English for the author Charles Grey, and published an English translation of The Memoirs of Wilhelmine, Margravine of Bayreuth , a distant relative. She was always lively — sometimes sharp-tongued and moody — and was a skilled artist who excelled at drawing, painting and sculpture.
She was a fervent supporter of the arts and higher education, and was in some ways the most forward-looking of the family, supporting female equality in education and employment. Determined to pursue an artistic career as much as her royal status would allow , Louise was the first member of the family to attend a public education institution — the National Art Training School.
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Impressed by his tall, handsome figure, and kindly nature, the Queen befriends Abdul, who soon becomes her Munshi teacher , instructing her in Urdu and the Koran; introducing her to curry, and advising her on Indian affairs. Directed by Stephen Frears Dangerous Liaisons , High Fidelity , The Queen , Victoria and Abdul promises to transport us back in time to the royal court and into the life of the redoubtable Queen of England and Empress of India, a monarch who dared to seek friendship beyond the inner-circle, and learn about a nation in which she ruled, yet never visited.
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From , she was also the of Empress of India. Their union produced 9 children, whom she later aligned with many European crowned heads. Widowed in , she deeply mourned the loss of her husband and withdrew from public life. Never remarrying, Victoria remained a widow for sixty years. Her two close friendships with her male servants John Brown and Abdul Karim were the cause of gossip and derision in the royal household, and an international scandal.
Bollywood actor Ali Fazal portrays the amiable Abdul Karim. After the death of his father in , his mother sent him abroad as her official emissary, traveling the world to her many colonies and dominions.
Largely excluded from holding any political power, the resentful Prince Albert chose to live the life a leisured elite — becoming the playboy prince — causing great conflict between him and his mother. British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard plays the disgruntled prince.
Queen Victoria on screen
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