Saturday, January 12, 2019

Stars in Her Crown #2 The Prince of Wales

Block #2 The Prince of Wales by Becky Brown

Berlinwork (needlepoint) portrait of Albert Edward
Prince of Wales (1841-1910) 
Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum

The Prince of Wales was England's crown prince, second child of Victoria and Albert, named Albert Edward for his father Prince Albert and for Victoria's father Edward, Duke of Kent, who'd died when she was a baby.

Victoria's Sketch of her eldest,
Victoria, Albert, Alfred and Alice in 1846

Letter from Victoria to her Uncle Leopold about a visit from another less-loved Uncle in June, 1842.
"The King of Hanover arrived just in time to be too late.... He is very gracious, for him. Pussy [Vicky] and Bertie (as we call the boy) were not at all afraid of him, fortunately; they appeared after the déjeuner [breakfast] on Friday, and I wish you could have seen them; they behaved so beautifully before that great number of people, and I must say looked very dear, all in white, and very distingués; they were much admired."

Bertie & Vicky
He was never as good a student as Vicky and both parents
compared them unfavorably.

The Queen was a skillful draftswoman and watercolorist. With her artist's eye she noticed how people looked and wrote about it often. Prettiness was quite important to her. The mother of nine children was never fond of babies unless they were beautiful. "An ugly baby is a very nasty object,...the prettiest are frightful when undressed."

Vicky and Bertie, drawn by Queen Victoria

Victoria later told Vicky, "You are so much more wrapped up in your children than I was, or ever could be."

Throughout his life the Queen bemoaned Bertie's perceived unattractiveness. He just did not look like his angelic and handsome father and he certainly did not take after him in intellect or morality. 

Bertie probably had some learning disabilities that made schooling difficult, especially tutoring dictated by parents overly ambitious for a perfect future king. Albert told Vicky: Bertie was "sharp when his mind is set on anything, which is seldom." Complaints focused on his lack of attention. From afar we can diagnose him with Attention Deficit Disorder viewed then as a character defect.

The Prince of Wales and President Buchanan at George Washington's Tomb
in 1860 by James Rossiter. Collection of the Smithsonian Institution 

Bertie's tour of Canada and the United States in 1860 when he was 18 was quite a success but soon after he returned to University at Cambridge he met an actress, perhaps his first sexual encounter. When his father heard about it he was shocked, writing that it caused him "the deepest pain I have yet to feel in this life." He had a talk with the wayward boy while walking in the November rain. Six weeks later Albert was dead. Victoria blamed Bertie. (Walking in the rain does not kill people. A digestive condition like Crohn's Disease is thought to be the cause of Albert's death at 42.)
"Oh! that boy---much as I pity I never can or shall look at him without a shudder as you may imagine." Queen Victoria.
The Prince of Wales by Denniele Bohannon

His high spirits were anathema after Albert's death when Victoria wanted him to conform to "the cureless melancholy of his poor home"

Bride and Groom in 1863

Bertie married beautiful, hard-of-hearing Princess Alexandra of Denmark a year or so later.

Alexandra as Queen of England in the early 20th century

The Princess of Wales set style with her fringe of curls (a wiglet, perhaps) and the choker necklaces she wore to hide surgery scars on her neck. Her mother-in-law was not fond of the hairstyle writing Vicky alliteratively in 1874 that the "fashion with a frizzle and fringe in front is frightful". The Queen was, however, very fond of Alix. A typical comment: "Beloved Alix, I can never praise her enough."

One could not call it an ideal marriage. For one thing Bertie was quite promiscuous, flaunting affairs before his wife and his subjects. For another, Denmark and several German states were at odds. Alix would not speak to some of her Prussian in-laws.
"Oh! if Bertie's wife was only a good German and not a Dane...as regards the peace and harmony in the family! It is terrible to have the poor boy on the wrong side, and aggravates my suffering greatly." Letter from Victoria to Vicky.

In a way it's a shame that Vicky saved her mother's letters because they reveal a Queen who was supremely self-centered. So much was viewed as aggravating her own suffering. Being monarch of the world's most powerful country did not soften the edges of a woman with a narcissistic personality flaw. And it's in her writing about Bertie that is most contradictory.

The Queen seemed quite fond of the adult Bertie, if disapproving of his friends, the Marlborough House set, and their pursuits. When he was dangerously sick with typhoid in 1871 she wrote Vicky, "I cannot fancy [the darling boy] ill---he who is always so gay and strong and active, so full of life and vigour, always on the move and never ill or cast down." But she also had no faith in his ability to fulfill his royal duties. A year later: "I should like to retire quietly to a cottage in the hills and rest and see almost no one....If only our dear Bertie was fit to replace me! Alas! Alas!"

Bertie soldiered on in his own fashion, becoming King Edward VII when he was 59 in 1901. He was quite popular, the perfect king for his own times after all.

The Block
Block #2 The Prince of Wales by Mark Lauer

The larger pattern is for a 12" Block.
The smaller for an 8" Block.

To Print:
Create a word file or an empty JPG file.
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file 8-1/2" x 11". Check to be sure the inch square box measures 1".
You'll need 4 copies if you are going to piece it over paper foundations.

The block is constructed in triangles—-Triangles are flipped and pieced into squares, four to a block. Each pattern includes paper foundations for 8” & 12” blocks, which you can also use for template piecing. Add a 1/4” seam allowance when you cut the fabric using the templates.

In Block #2 they are identical except four are flipped over. And those four have a different color for Point A, purple in one set in the sketch, brown in the other.

Textile of the Week

This week's royal textile is a commemorative handkerchief with an array of English sovereigns printed for the King's coronation in 1902 (postponed due to an attack of royal appendicitis.) Many an English school child could have made good use of this square stuffed into his pocket during a history test.
The Prince of Wales by Janet Perkins

Read more about Bertie's Marlborough House Set at this link:

Read a book a week:
The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince by Jane Ridley.


  1. Thank you for a great paper piecing series and for the interesting background stories behind each block. It is great Saturday morning reading!

  2. Interesting that scandal and dalliance is not a "new" thing, reflecting on the current Royal family, to the monarchy. Bad little boy was Prince/King Edward lol. Also, of interest, using the handkerchief, two things: 1. how few female monarchs there have been; 2. that in 2024, Britain will have been under rule for 1000 years! I surely hope Queen Elizabeth is still alive in 5 years to oversee that celebration.

  3. I apologize for my lack of knowledge about Facebook, but I have not been able to figure out how to post on Group page. Can someone help?

  4. Problem solved, got to the right page, not just the posts.

  5. Bonito bloque..Me ha encantado conocer sobre la vida dek príncipe de Gales

  6. I.ve enjoyed reading about the story behind the block.Thanks you.