Princess Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie of Hesse, was born at Windsor Castle on April 5, 1863, the eldest daughter of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice, the second daughter of Queen Victoria. She was one of seven children, her siblings included Alix, the ill-fated Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, and Ella, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feoderovna of Russia, both of whom were murdered; they were later cannonized by the Russian Orthodox Church.
In 1866, the family moved to the Neu Palais in Darmstadt. She spoke German first, reading it well by the age of six, and English by the age of seven. She was smart and an avid reader, taking the Oxford exams for younger girls. In her life she was to weather many tragedies: her youngest brother, Friedrich died in 1873. In December 1878, diphtheria claimed the lives of her mother and her youngest sister, Marie. In 1937, a plane crash would claim the lives of five members of her family.
In 1884, she married her first cousin, once removed, Prince Louis of Battenberg (son of Princess Battenberg). The couple had four children, Princess Alice, (mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), Princess Louise (later Queen Louise of Sweden), Prince George (2nd Marquess of Milford Haven), and Prince Louis (later Earl Mountbatten of Burma).
In 1917, the family renounced its German name and titles and anglicized the family name to Mountbatten. Her husband gave up his title of Prince Louis and became the Marquess of Milford Haven. Thus Princess Victoria became Marchioness of Milford Haven.
Victoria was admired for her 'lack of vanity, her firm handshake, her direct, sometimes abrupt manner which gave an almost masculine impression.' Her interests included painting, archaeology and philosphy, and she was well known for her socialist, egalitarian beliefs. After her husband's death in 1921, she lived in Kensington Palace until her death on September 24, 1950 at the age of eighty-seven.
She is buried at Wippingham Churchyard on the Isle of Wight.
© Marilyn Braun 2005
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