Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
The Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, (Louise Caroline Alberta), (18 March 1848 - 3 December 1939) was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. She served as Canadian Vice Regal Consort when her husband was the Governor General of Canada.
Princess Louise was born on 18 March 1848 at Buckingham Palace, London. Her mother was the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, a grandchild of King George III through his fourth son, Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent. Her father was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. As a daughter of the sovereign, Princess Louise was styled Her Royal Highness from birth. She was christened in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace by John Bird Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 13 May 1848. Her godparents were Duke Gustav of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, The Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen, and The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Her mother, the Queen, wished for her daughter to marry and a hunt was put in place for a suitable husband. The Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) proposed her own brother, Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark as a possible candidate, but the Queen firmly opposed to another Danish marriage that could annoy Prussia. Louise's eldest sister the Crown Princess of Prussia, proposed her own candidate, the tall and rich Prince Albrecht of Prussia, her husband's cousin. However, he was reluctant to come and live in England. Victoria then proposed the idea that Louise marry a member of the British nobility. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), disapproved of this idea.
Eventually a suitable candidate was chosen, the Marquess of Lorne, heir to the title of Duke of Argyll. The Marquess' parents were known to the Queen, and they approved of the proposed union. The Marquess was also a Member of Parliament at this time. Princess Louise married the Marquess of Lorne on March 21, 1871 in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
In 1878, the Marquess was offered the position of Governor General of Canada. On November 14, 1878, Lord Lorne and Princess Louise departed from Liverpool Harbour on the long journey to Canada. Princess Louise was popular in Canada, and extensively toured the country, as well as visiting the neighbouring United States.
Princess Louise was an accomplished writer, sculptor and artist – she painted well in both oils and water colours. A door she painted with sprigs of apple blossoms can still be seen in the Monck wing corridor at Rideau Hall. She gave the name Regina (which is Latin for Queen) to the capital of the North-West Territories (after 1905 of the province of Saskatchewan), and both the district of Alberta in the Northwest Territories (later the province of Alberta) and Lake Louise in that district were named after her. Although she was often unwell, she was a compassionate woman who, during an epidemic of scarlet fever, personally nursed the sick.
On February 14, 1880, she was seriously injured when the viceregal sleigh overturned on the streets of Ottawa, Ontario, and Louise, though she made a full recovery, returned to England, leaving Lord Lorne to discharge their Vice-Regal duties alone for another two years.
Three Canadian regiments still honour her in their titles:
- 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's)
- The Princess Louise Fusiliers
- The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's)
Duchess of Argyll
The Duke died in 1914 from pneumonia. Princess Louise, now a widow, spent World War I visiting Canadian Army units coming to fight in France. She survived until the beginning of World War II, dying on December 3, 1939 at Kensington Palace, when she was ninety one years old. At her own request her body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in North London and her ashes were buried at Royal Cemetery at Frogmore.
The Duke and Duchess of Argyll did not have any children. According to one scholar, the Princess was sterile as the result of a teenage bout with meningitis. In various biographies, however, there has been much discussion over the Duke's sexuality. It is certain that he preferred the company of other men to that of his wife and that he and Princess Louise were often separated for long periods of time ostensibly for reasons of temperament.
- 1848–1871: Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise
- 1871–1900: Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne
- 1900–1939: Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll