QUEEN VICTORIA EUGÉNIE OF SPAIN
HCM Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain, VA, formerly HH (later HRH) Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena of Battenberg was born at 7am on 24th October 1887 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the only daughter (and second child) of Prince Henry of Battenberg, (1858-1896) and The Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901). Her birth was long and painful for the Princess and caused everyone great concern with the aged Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) commenting that "after a terrible long time, the baby appeared to our great joy and relief, a very large fine girl but she was nearly stillborn."
Victoria Eugénie - or 'Ena' as she was known within the family, was described by her father as the Queen’s "little Jubilee grandchild" being born in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year of 1887. She was also the first Royal child to be born in Scotland since King Charles I (1600(1624-1649).
Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain
(Princess Victoria Eugénie 'Ena'
Under the terms of the Royal Warrant issued by her grandmother Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) on 13th December 1886, she was granted the style of Highness within the United Kingdom but as a male-line descendant of The Princess of Battenberg (1825-1895), Victoria Eugénie was styled Serene Highness within the German Empire. On 6th July 1893, Victoria Eugénie (aged 6yrs) was one of ten bridesmaids to attend Princess Victoria Mary 'May' of Teck (1867-1953) when she married Prince George 'Georgie', The Duke of York, later King George V (1865(1910-1936) at The Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London.
A painting of the baptism of Princess Victoria Eugénie 'Ena' of Battenberg by R.T. Pritchett
A painting of Empress Eugénie
of France in 1853
by Franz Xavier Winterhalter
Victoria Eugénie was baptised in the Drawing Room at Balmoral Castle on 23rd November 1887 and was named Victoria after her grandmother - Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) and Eugénie after her god-mother Empress Eugénie of France, formerly Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox y KirkPatrick (Eugénie de Montijo), 16th Countess of Teba (1826-1920), widow of Napoléon III, Emperor of the French (1808-1873). Following the death in exile of her husband, the Empress Eugénie became close the the aged Queen and it was thought at one time that Princess Beatrice would become engaged to her only son - Prince Louis-Napoléon, The Prince Imperial (1856-1879), but he was killed in 1879 fighting with British forces against the Zulus in South Africa.
During the State Visit in June 1905 by King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886-1941), he was introduced to Victoria Eugénie at the State Dinner at Buckingham Palace and their friendship soon blossomed into romance. King Alfonso subsequently proposed but his mother - Queen Maria Christina, formerly Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria (1858-1929), had some serious concerns about his choice of Spain’s future Queen Consort. Her three main concerns were -
Victoria Eugénie’s faith: she was a Protestant and would have to change her religion to Catholicism;
her status as a Battenberg Princess: she was deemed to be 'non-Royal' (due to her 'lowly' Battenberg ancestry) and Queen Maria Christina considered it an unequal match;
haemophilia: there was a real risk that any issue from her would bring the genetic disorder into the Royal House of Spain.
News of their engagement was announced on 8th February 1906. In an effort to appease the King of Spain’s mother and other critics of the proposed marriage - steps were taken to resolve some of the issues of concern. Such was the opposition in both Spain and the UK, she was told by The Most Rev & Rt Hon. Randall Davidson, later 1st Lord Davidson of Lambeth, Archbishop of Canterbury (1848-1930) that her proposed marriage to a Catholic was "an extraordinary breach with all the teaching of Our church" and "would seem to be almost an impossibility", and The Rt Rev & Rt Hon. Arthur Winnington-Ingram, Bishop of London (1858-1946) even appealed direct to Princess Beatrice as "a devout churchwoman" to reconsider her daughter's intended marriage to a Roman Catholic. On 7th March 1906 at the Miramar Palace, San Sebastián, Victoria Eugénie was received into the Roman Catholic Church in preparation for her marriage, which under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701 meant that she would forfeit her rights of succession to the British Throne.
On 3rd April 1906, Victoria Eugénie's uncle - King Edward VII (1841(1901-1910) issued a Royal Warrant elevating her to the status of Royal Highness to ensure that there could be no question of an unequal match. However, by 1906 medical knowledge had not advanced enough to deal with the issue of haemophilia - this was the only one of Queen Maria Christina's issues that could not be resolved and would inevitably play a major part in the failure of Victoria Eugénie's marriage to The King of Spain.
ABOVE: The Arms of Princess Victoria Eugénie of Battenberg
(prior to 1906)
RIGHT: Princess Victoria Eugénie in 1897
with Queen Victoria, her grandmother
Whitehall, April 3, 1906
The KING has been graciously pleased to declare and ordain that His Majesty's niece, Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena, daughter of Her Royal Highness The Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg), shall henceforth be styled and called 'Her Royal Highness';
And to command that the said Royal concession and declaration be registered in His Majesty's College of Arms.
ABOVE: Princess Victoria Eugénie in 1905,
as a bridesmaid for the wedding
of her cousin Princess Margaret
'Daisy' of Connaught
to Crown Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden
BELOW: The arms of
Princess Victoria Eugénie (after 1906)
upon being styled 'Royal Highness'
LEFT: Princess Victoria Eugénie
& King Alfonso XIII
prior to their wedding in May 1906
King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugénie
in the carriage procession following their wedding in May 1906
King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Victoria Eugénie were married on 31st May 1906 at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo, Madrid, Spain. The service was conducted by His Eminence (The Blessed) Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervás, Archbishop of Toledo (1833-1909), who was assisted by The Most Rev. Dr Robert Bridle, (RC) Bishop of Nottingham (1837-1916), who had given the bride religious instruction prior to her being received into the Catholic Church. However on the processional route returning to the Royal Palace from the service, Mateo Morral (1880-1906) - a Catalan anarchist, threw a bomb (concealed in a bouquet) from a balcony at the carriage carrying the newly-wed King and Queen as they passed by. Luckily both survived but fifteen people were killed in the outrage, several others injured and a few horses were killed too. Morral was subsequently captured but having shot dead the police officer who arrested him, he then committed suicide. Victoria Eugénie's start as Queen of Spain was not happy and she became isolated and unpopular with the Spanish people and relations with the King were fractious. However the birth of a son and heir in 1907 temporarily improved relations with the King but it was soon discovered that the child was a haemophiliac - which the King is alleged to have never come to terms with and would never forgive his wife.
ABOVE: A short film
(no audio) from
The Silent Film Channel
showing the carriage processions at the wedding
of King Alfonso XIII of Spain
& Queen Victoria Eugénie
in May 1906
RIGHT: The personal cypher of Queen Victoria Eugénie
as Queen of Spain
BELOW: A painting
of the wedding of
King Alfonso XIII & Queen Victoria Eugénie
at the Royal Monastery
of San Jerónimo,
Madrid, Spain in May 1906
by Juan Comba y Garcia
A drawing of Queen Victoria Eugénie
(wearing the Fleur de Lys Tiara)
following her wedding to King Alfonso XIII
in May 1906
LEFT: A drawing of
the aftermath of
the assassination attempt
on King Alfonso XIII of Spain
& Queen Victoria Eugénie
following their wedding
in May 1906
BELOW: commemorative coin
for the wedding of
King Alfonso XIII of Spain
& Queen Victoria Eugénie