Alexandra of Denmark
Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1 December 1844–20 November 1925), later Queen Alexandra, was the Queen Consort of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and thus served as Empress of India during her husband's reign. Prior to that,she was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901 (the longest anyone has ever held that title). From 1910 until her death she was the Queen Mother, as the mother of the reigning monarch, George V of the United Kingdom, though that particular title was not used. Instead, through her widowhood, she was styled 'Her Majesty, Queen Alexandra'.
Princess Alexandra Carolina Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, or "Alix," as she was known within the family, was born on 1 December 1844, at Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, right next to the Amalienborg Palace complex in Copenhagen. Her father was Prince Christian, later King Christian IX of Denmark. Her mother was Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel. Although of royal blood, her family lived a comparatively normal life, and, though they did not possess great wealth, they nevertheless made spectacular marriages. Her sister Princess Dagmar, for instance, would become Maria Feodorovna, wife of Tsar Alexander III of Russia and mother of Nicholas II. As a result, her father became known as the "Father-in-Law of Europe."
Princess of Wales
Great Britain's Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, known as "Bertie", had already given his parents, Queen Victoria and her husband, considerable cause for concern, and his mother, now widowed, was anxious for him to settle down. Alexandra of Denmark was not her first choice, since the Danes were at loggerheads with the Prussians, and most of the British royal family's relations were German.
However, on meeting the queen, the beautiful young Alix met with her approval as well as Bertie's. An ode was written by Alfred Tennyson, the Poet Laureate, in Alexandra's honour, and special music was composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan to welcome her to the UK. The couple were married on March 10, 1863; her father acceded to the throne of Denmark eight months later. The wedding took place at St George's Chapel, Windsor, and the occasion was recorded in a commissioned painting by William Powell Frith.
They were seen off on their honeymoon by the schoolboys of neighbouring Eton College, including Lord Randolph Churchill (whose wife, Jennie Jerome, would later have a longterm affair with her new husband Albert, of which Alexandra was aware), who described the event in his letters home.
Alix's style was very different from that of the senior British royals. She was devoted to her children and her servants and enjoyed activities such as dancing and ice skating. Even after the birth of her first child, Prince Albert Victor ("Eddy") in 1864, she continued to behave much as before, and this led to some friction between the queen and the young couple. After the birth of her third child in 1867, however, complications threatened her life and she was left with a permanent limp. She also suffered an increasing degree of deafness, which was hereditary. Self-conscious about a scar on her neck (allegedly the result of a childhood accident, though others suggest a suicide attempt), she tried to hide it by wearing high choker necklaces and dresses. A strikingly attractive woman, Alix's high necklines started a fashion craze, though few at the time knew the secret behind them.
Private life and strifes
Bertie and Alix adopted Sandringham House as their preferred residence, and their marriage was in many ways a happy one. However, Bertie did not give his wife or children as much attention as she would have liked, and they grew gradually estranged, until his serious illness in the early 1870s brought about a reconciliation. Their relationship had its ups and downs over the years. Bertie, even after winning back his wife's affections, continued to keep mistresses, among them the actress Lillie Langtry, Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, the beautiful but married Jennie Jerome (mother of Winston Churchill), humanitarian Agnes Keyser, and society matron and courtesan Alice Keppel.
Most of these were with the full knowledge of Alexandra, and Keppel was even allowed by her to be at her husband's bedside upon his death. However, she was said to have merely tolerated Keppel, but never accepted her. Alix did not like the fact that Keppel appeared everywhere that she and Bertie went. It was said, however, that Alexandra on the contrary thoroughly enjoyed the company of Jennie Jerome, finding her appealing and pleasing to be around, despite the fact that Jerome had been involved in an affair with Bertie previously. Of the other women involved with Bertie, Keyser was said to have been the best received in royal circles, due to her discreet and respectful nature and the fact that she herself was not married.
Author Raymond Lamont-Brown wrote in his book Edward VII's Last Loves: Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser, that the positive influence that his last two extra-marital relationships had on him cannot be understated. He was referring to Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser, kept simultanious to one another both beginning between 1898 and 1900, and continuing until his death.
Alexandra herself was never known to have taken a lover. Those within the monarchy commonly did do so (women monarchs included), however for someone of her social stature, it would not have been socially accepted if common knowledge.
The death of Prince Albert Victor in 1892 was a serious blow to the tender-hearted Alix, and she insisted on keeping his room and possessions exactly as he had left them, much as did her mother-in-law after the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Alix herself remained youthful looking into her senior years, thanks to elaborate veils and very heavy makeup (an observer described her as looking enamelled).
As Queen from 1901 to 1910, and Queen Mother thereafter, Alix was greatly loved by the British people. She was associated with many charities, the most notable being Alexandra Rose Day. During the Boer War, she founded Queen Alexandra's Nursing Corps, which became known as the "Q.A.s". However, she lacked political acumen, and her hatred for the Germans became very apparent during World War I, a hatred that stemmed from the German conquest of the formerly Danish lands Schleswig and Holstein during the Second War of Schleswig in 1864.
She died on November 20, 1925, at Sandringham, and was buried at Windsor.
Queen Alexandra's arms were the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom impaled with the arms of her father, King Christian IX of Denmark.
Titles from birth to death
Here are Alexandra's styles in chronological order:
- 1844–1853: Her Serene Highness Princess Alexandra of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
- 1853–1858: Her Highness Princess Alexandra of Denmark
- 1858–1863: Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Denmark
- 1863–1901: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales
- 1901–1910: Her Majesty The Queen
- 1910–1925: Her Majesty Queen Alexandra
As a matrilineal relative of Nicholas II of Russia, she and all her female-line descendants are members of mitochondrial haplogroup T.
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|Queen Consort of the United Kingdom
Mary of Teck
|Empress of India
Mary of Teck
|Princesses of Wales
dates they were Princess of Wales in brackets
Joan of Kent (1361-1376) | Anne Neville (1470 - 1471) | Catherine of Aragon (1501-1502) | Caroline of Ansbach (1714 - 1727) | Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1736 - 1751) | Caroline of Brunswick (1795 - 1820) | Alexandra of Denmark (1863 - 1901) | Mary of Teck (1901 - 1910) | Diana Spencer (1981 - 1996) | Camilla Parker Bowles* (2005 - present)
* Camilla does not use the Princess of Wales title, but instead uses her subsidiary title, Duchess of Cornwall.