We often hear that the Queen is a cousin of various European monarchs. Her Majesty is related to them because of her great great grandmother Queen Victoria and the marriages made by her children and grandchildren. Here, we take a look at each of Victoria’s nine children and examine who their descendants are.
The Queen has many European cousins
Princess Victoria (Vicky), The Princess Royal 1840-1901
Victoria’s eldest child, Vicky, was the only one of her siblings to marry in her father Prince Albert’s lifetime. Her marriage to Frederick (Fritz), the Crown Prince of Prussia, had been planned by Victoria and Albert since Vicky was four. The young couple met in 1855 when he was 24 and she was 14, and got on so well that an engagement was agreed to. They married in 1858 and Vicky moved to Germany with her husband. The new Crown Princess gave birth to her first son in 1859 – Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. Vicky’s husband would eventually become Emperor in 1888 but reigned for just a few months before he died. Vicky’s son was now Emperor, or “Kaiser” Wilhelm II and was leader of Germany during World War I (1914-1918). He had a tempestuous relationship with his mother and Victoria was also worried about his behaviour. However, he insisted on being at his grandmother’s bedside when she died in 1901.
Kaiser Wilhelm, Victoria’s first grandson
Vicky’s daughter Sophie married King Constantine I of Greece. This name may be familiar to seasoned royal watchers, as his grandson, Constantine II, was the last King of Greece before the monarchy was abolished in 1973. He continues to use the title “King Constantine” and is a member of the International Olympic Committee. He lived in London with his wife Anne-Marie for many years and is a close friend of the Prince of Wales. Constantine is godfather to the Duke of Cambridge and Prince William is in turn godfather to Constantine’s grandson Constantine-Alexios. Constantine is also related to Charles through the Duke of Edinburgh as their grandfathers (Constantine I and Prince Andrew of Greece – Philip’s father) were brothers. Constantine is further realated to the Queen not just through Sophie of Prussia but also through the Queen’s great grandmother Queen Alexandra, who was a Danish princess (Constantine is also descended from Danish Royalty).
Prince Albert Edward (Bertie), Prince of Wales & King Edward VII 1841-1910
The Queen’s great grandfather did not have an easy relationship with his mother Victoria, and she blamed him for Prince Albert’s early death in 1861. In 1863, Bertie married Princess Alexandra of Denmark. This was another marriage which had been planned jointly by Victoria and Albert and was happy, in spite of Bertie’s numerous affairs with, amongst others, Lillie Langtry and Alice Keppel. Through Alexandra, our current royal family are related to the Danish royals. Alexandra’s father was King Christian IX of Denmark and his great great granddaughter is Denmark’s current Queen Regnant, Margrethe II. Her son is Crown Prince Frederick, who with his wife Crown Princess Mary, hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit in 2011.
Bertie’s second son became King George V on his father’s death in 1910 and was succeeded in 1936 by his two eldest sons. Edward VIII abdicated after a few months to marry Wallis Simpson, and became the Duke of Windsor, and George VI was our current Queen’s father.
Edward VII’s family with Queen Maud of Norway on far right
Bertie’s youngest daughter, Maud, in 1896 married Prince Carl of Denmark. In 1905, the Norwegian Parliament dissolved Norway’s 91 year old union with Sweden and offered the throne to Prince Carl. The couple became King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway and their only son became Crown Prince Olav (he was previously Prince Alexander). The current Norwegian King, Harald V, is Maud’s grandson, and the next King and Queen of Norway will be the popular Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
Princess Alice 1843-1878
Alice was the first of Victoria’s children to marry after Albert’s death and consequently her wedding in 1862, just over six months after Albert died, was a sombre affair. Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt in her mother’s dining room at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Victoria had allowed Alice to wear a white wedding dress but insisted that her trousseau (the clothes she would wear as a newly married woman) be black. Alice’s eldest daughter Victoria married Louis of Battenberg, later created Marquess of Milford Haven. Victoria’s daughter Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece and their only son is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Philip’s uncle Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was Queen Victoria’s great grandson and was a strong influence in the lives of both Philip and Prince Charles. Mountbatten was killed by the IRA in 1979.
Alice’s fourth daughter Alix married Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia. Together they had five chidren and the entire family was murdered by the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution in 1918. George V, King of Britain in 1918, was haunted by his decision not to rescue his cousin “Nicky” and his family from Russia – the two cousins had always been close and shared more than a passing resemblance to each other.
Tsar Nicholas II and the Russian Royal Family
Prince Alfred (Affie), Duke of Edinburgh & Saxe-Coburg-Gotha 1844-1902
Affie succeeded his uncle Ernest II (Prince Albert’s brother) as Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha because his elder brother the Prince of Wales had renounced his right to the succession. In 1874, Affie married Marie, daughter of the Tsar of Russia, and the couple had six children, one of whom, also named Marie, married the King of Romania. Marie’s grandson was King Peter II of Yugoslavia. During part of his reign (1934-1941) he was a minor, so his cousin Prince Paul was Regent. Paul was married to Princess Olga, the sister of Princess Marina of Greece, who was in turn married to the Duke of Kent and was therefore the aunt of our current Queen.
Next week, we look at Victoria’s youngest five children and our Queen’s links with Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain.