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 Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain

Her Most Catholic Majesty Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain, VA, formerly 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).  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.

 

Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain

(Princess Victoria Eugénie of Battenberg)

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  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.

 

A painting of the baptism of Princess Victoria Eugénie of Battenberg by R. T. Pritchett

 

Victoria Eugénie (right) with her grandmother - 

Queen Victoria

 

The arms of Victoria Eugénie prior to 1906

 

Victoria Eugénie with her god-mother -

Empress Eugénie of France

 

The arms of Victoria Eugénie after 1906

upon her elevation to the status of Royal Highness

During the State Visit in 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.  

 

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.  In March 1906, 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.  

 

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.