PRINCE HENRY OF BATTENBERG
On 13th December 1886, Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) issued a Royal Warrant stating that any children of Henry and Beatrice would be granted the style of Highness within the United Kingdom but as a male-line descendant of The Princess of Battenberg (1825-1895), they would be styled Serene Highness within the German Empire.
Henry and Beatrice had 4 children -
Whitehall, December 13, 1886
The QUEEN has been pleased, under Her Majesty's Royal Sign Manual and the Great Seal to declare Her Royal will and pleasure that the sons and daughters born of the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince Henry Maurice of Battenberg with Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore shall at all times hold and enjoy the style, title, and attribute of Highness prefixed to their respective Christian names or any titles of honour which may belong to them : and further to declare Her will and pleasure, that the Earl Marshal of England do see this declaration kept, and cause the same to be duly registered in Her Majesty's College of Arms, to the end that the officers of arms, and all others upon occasion, may take full notice and have knowledge thereof.
Prince Henry & Princess Henry (Princess Beatrice)
of Battenberg, with Queen Victoria in 1889
(seated left) and their three children - (left to right)
Alexander (later 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke);
Victoria Eugénie 'Ena' (later The Queen of Spain)
& baby Leopold (on his mother's lap)
Prince Henry 'Liko' of Battenberg
Henry soon became a figure of fun at Court, Beatrice's sister - Princess Louise, The Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939) said of Henry - "he has nothing to do I suppose, but look at people's clothes, poor creature!" All that Henry had to do was accompany his wife at endless public engagements and attend on The Queen - they were her 'virtual prisoners of The Queen's selfishness' at Court. In an effort to give him more of an 'useful' identity, The Queen appointed Henry to be Governor of the Isle of Wight, following the death of the previous holder - The Rt Hon. Sir Charles Shaw-Lefevre, 1st Viscount Eversley (1794-1888). Despite taking the role seriously, Henry was under no illusion of the insignificance of the office, he was to comment - "the duties and responsibilities of my office do not present much scope for activity." He was also appointed to the office of Governor of Carisbrooke Castle - where King Charles I (1600(1625-1649) had been imprisoned prior to his execution following the Civil War.
Prince Henry 'Liko' of Battenberg
A memorial brooch made
after the death of
Prince Henry 'Liko'
This was sold for just
under £7,000 in an auction
of property of
Patricia, 2nd Countess
Mountbatten of Burma
by Sotheby in March 2021
RIGHT: The children of
Prince & Princess Henry
in mourning for their father
(standing left to right)
Princess Victoria Eugénie 'Ena'
(later The Queen of Spain)
and Prince Leopold;
(seated left to right)
Prince Alexander 'Drino'
(later 1st Marquess
& Prince Maurice
In November 1895, Henry finally persuaded Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) to go with the British Army to fight in the Ashanti Wars - a series of conflicts between the Ashanti Empire (now Ghana) and the invading British Empire and British-Allied African states that took place between 1824-1901. He was appointed Military Secretary to Major-General Sir Francis Scott (1834-1902), the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces. In a letter to his sister, Princess Marie, The Princess of Erbach-Schönberg, formerly Princess Marie of Battenberg (1852-1923), Henry said - "you will understand that, as a soldier, I would like to embrace the first opportunity that offers of doing something to serve my adopted country." Henry contracted malaria when the expedition reached Prahsu - about 30 miles from Kumasi in Ghana. Initially it was thought that the fever was declining and it was decided that Henry could be sent home for proper medical attention. However, Henry died on 20th January 1896 aboard the cruiser HMS Blonde - off the coast of Sierra Leone on the way home. News of his death finally reached The Queen at Osbourne House two days later, and accompanied by her son Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught & Strathearn (1850-1942) they informed Beatrice of the news of Henry's death. The Queen wrote about how her now widowed daughter was devastated by Henry's death - "all she said in a trembling voice was 'the life is gone out of me!'"
In his will, Henry had left instructions that he wished to be buried at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight - where Henry had married Beatrice in 1885. His body arrived at Portsmouth, Hampshire on 4th February 1896 on board HMS Blenheim. In his coffin, Princess Beatrice had sent a crucifix, flowers from her bouquet and a photograph of herself for his final journey. The following day a military funeral was held at St Mildred's, with a simultaneous public service being held at Westminster Abbey, London. Other memorial services were held throughout the country and abroad including in Paris, France, Berlin, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland. Soon after the funeral, Beatrice (along with their four children) left to spend time away in the South of France. Whilst in Nice she received her husband's last message - "in case I die, tell the Princess from me that I came here not to win glory, but from a sense of duty."
Princess Henry of Battenberg
(Princess Beatrice) in mourning
Just over two years after his death, the Isle of Wight Council unveiled a memorial to Henry in the restored Gate House of Carisbrooke Castle - the official residence of the Governor of the Island. Beatrice commissioned a memorial for her late husband - a sarcophagus made from white Derbyshire limestone. The tomb was sculptured by Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934) - who had sculptured the Shaftesbury Memorial, known as 'Eros' in Piccadilly Circus, London, which commemorated Edwina's great-grandfather was the great social reformer and philanthropist Sir Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-1885). Queen Victoria subsequently founded the Royal Victorian Order on 21st April 1896 in Henry's memory. The order was created to reward "personal service to the Sovereign" and remains in the Sovereign's personal gift.
On 8th June 1896, Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) appointed Beatrice to the post of Governor of the Isle of Wight and Governor of Carisbrooke Castle - the offices once held by Henry, which she herself held until her own death in 1944. Beatrice retained her contact with the Isle of Wight and in 1913 took up residence (in addition to her apartment at Kensington Palace, London) in the suite of rooms within Carisbrooke Castle set aside for its Governor. Following their marriage Beatrice was known as 'Princess Henry of Battenberg', a style she used until July 1917, when King George V (1865(1910-1936) – in response to anti-German attacks against the dynastic German Royal Family of Britain, declared that members of the Royal Family and extended family would cease to use their inherited German styles and titles and that his family name would be 'Windsor' instead of 'Saxe-Coburg & Gotha'. As a result, the Princess reverted to the style of 'The Princess Beatrice', which she had used from birth until her marriage to Henry.
The 1926 portrait of Princess Beatrice
by Philip de Lászlo
The grave of Prince Henry 'Liko' of Battenberg
(and subsequently Princess Beatrice)
at St Mildred's Church,
Whippingham on the Isle of Wight
ABOVE: Princess Beatrice in her later years
BELOW: Brantridge Park, Balcombe, Sussex today
In 1919, she made her last home at Brantridge Park, near Balcombe, West Sussex, a 19th Century manor house, set in about 90 acres of parkland and woodland, which was the former home of Queen Victoria's granddaughter - Princess Alice of Albany (1883-1981) and Major-General The Rt Hon. Sir Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone, formerly Prince Alexander of Teck (1874-1957) who was the brother of Queen Mary (1867-1953) and Governor-General of South Africa 1924-1931 and of Canada 1940-1946.
As old age came to Beatrice, her declining poor health meant that she took to using a wheelchair and her public appearances decreased considerably. By the time of her last portrait by Philip de Lászlo (1869-1937) in 1926, she was already suffering from rheumatism (which affected her mobility and playing the piano) and cataracts. In 1931 she finished the monumental task of editing the personal diaries of her mother - Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901). The aged Queen had tasked her devoted daughter to edit the vast catalogue of handwritten diaries, ensuring that political sensitive, personal comments and opinions were removed, which took Beatrice thirty years to conclude. Some would say that she executed her editorial duties too strictly and the original journals were destroyed, which angered her nephew - King George V (1865(1910-1936). However, in 1941 she published "In Napoleonic Days", a translation of the personal diary of The Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld, née Countess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf (1757-1831), who was a maternal grandmother of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) and a paternal grandmother of Prince Albert, The Prince Consort (1819-1861).
Beatrice died at her home - Brantridge Park on 26th October 1944, aged 87yrs, and King George VI (1895(1936-1952) ordered a fortnight of Court Mourning. She was remembered for her closeness to Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901), her vast charitable work, in particular with the Scouting Movement and her love of the Isle of Wight, for painting watercolours and for being a collector of gramophone records of classical music and autographs. After her funeral service on 3rd November 1944 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, her coffin lay in the Royal Vault until 28th August 1945, when in accordance with her wishes, her remains were transferred privately to be placed alongside her late husband at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham on her beloved Isle of Wight.