Prince Henry of Battenberg
Prince Henry of Battenberg
Princess Beatrice in widowhood
with her 4 children: Maurice, Victoria Eugénie,
Leopold & Alexander
Just over 2 years after his death, the Isle of Wight Council unveiled a memorial to Henry in the restored the 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.
Princess Beatrice's cypher
on the gate of Carisbrooke Castle
Beatrice died at her home - Brantridge Park on 26th October 1944, aged 87yrs. 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 her remains were transferred to be placed with Henry at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight as Beatrice had left instructions that she wished to be buried with Henry and on her beloved Isle of Wight.
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, he 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 a devastated Beatrice 2 days later. The Queen wrote about her now widowed daughter - "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 in London. Soon after the funeral, Beatrice (along with their 4 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."
The grave of Prince Henry of Battenberg (and later Beatrice)
at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight
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.
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.