Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stars in Her Crown #3: Princess Alice of Hesse

Block #3 Alice by Denniele Bohannon

Our third Star in Victoria's crown is Princess Alice Maud Mary (1843-1878).

Princesses Alice (#3) and Vicky (#1) with baby Helena (#5)
 in a painting of the Royal Family by Winterhalter

Costumed for a family theatrical

Alice, the first of the middle children, was the Royal Family's natural nurse by temperament and position.
Alice, around 13, with her mother.
Alice had a bout of scarlet fever at this time,
which may have caused life-long health problems.

After sister Vicky married when Alice was 15 she became the eldest girl, helping her grandmother the Duchess of Kent in her final illness and sitting with her father Prince Albert through his last weeks. She also consoled her inconsolable mother through these griefs.

Vicky (left) and Alice both lived in Germany after marrying German princes.

According to author Helen Rappaport, courtier Lord Clarendon thought Alice a paragon. Although "'boxed up in a gilt cage all her life" she had sound principles, great judgement and a knowledge of the world.

Prince Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse (1837-1892)

Louis and Alice fell in love, were engaged for about two years and married despite official mourning for Prince Albert in July, 1862. Her mother insisted she have an all-black wedding.

Alice's home, the New Palace in Darmstadt

Duchies of Hesse & Darmstadt in a current map of Germany

Alice (left) with her sisters soon after Prince Albert's death.
Queen Victoria's grief pervaded the family. 
Victoria told Uncle Leopold that weeping "day after day is my most welcome friend."

Alice's practical nature enabled her to view her mother's behavior objectively. She continued the role of her father who'd told his wife she should be "less occupied with your self and your own feelings."
Alice suggested improvement to a parent whose personality problems included supreme self-absorption and a tendency to counter criticism with temper tantrums.

Victoria confided her jealousy to her diary:
 "Here I sit lonely & desolate...while our two daughters have each their loving husbands."

Victoria's excessive grief over Albert's death eventually gave way to a generalized state of anxiety and agoraphobia, which made her a royal recluse. She was terrified of people looking at her, an impractical phobia for a Queen. Newspapers and Parliamentarians complained publicly, calling her mad and demanding she abdicate in favor of Bertie. Behind her back the court criticized. Lady-in- Waiting Marie Mallet suggested Victoria's excessive grief was "the dim shade of an inherited melancholy from George III." Alice had the nerve to confront her mother, earning a demotion to least favorite daughter.

Alice and her children about 1876
Alix, the young girl standing in front, and Irene (right) were
 hemophilia carriers, affecting their sons.

Alice was a carrier for the blood clotting disorder hemophilia, the family curse. Son Fritz inherited the male-linked disease and died after a fall. In the summer of 1878 Queen Victoria was worried about Alice's health. "She still looks very weak and delicate...." In the fall her children caught diphtheria. Baby Marie died and then Alice herself caught the respiratory disease and died on December 14th, the seventeenth anniversary of Prince Albert's death. She was 35.

The motherless family with Grandmama the Queen

It is fortunate in one way that Alice did not outlive her children as two were destined for tragedy. Alix (front right) grew up to marry the future Tsar Nicholas II, passing hemophilia to her son, the heir to the Russian throne. Alix's family was murdered by the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution in 1918. Sister Elizabeth (standing right), married to a Russian Grand Duke, was killed the following day.

Block #3 Alice by Becky Brown

Letter from Princess Alice to her mother. (Alice had just given birth to her first son in 1868):
"I am on my sofa in my sitting-room with all your dear photos, &c., around me, and your pretty quilt over me."
See a post on Victoria's hobby, knitting and crocheting items like the "quilt" she sent to Alice here:

The Block
Block #3 Alice by Mark Lauer

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 #3 four of the triangles are flipped over. And those four have a different color for Points A & B.

Textile of the week:

The Art Institute of Chicago is supposed to be the source for this chintz fragment with a portrait of the new Queen and the British Royal Arms, assumed to be a Coronation celebration from 1837 or 1838.

Read a Book a Week:

A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert & the Death that Changed the British Monarchy by Helen Rappaport.


  1. I never thought I'd say this, but I am enjoying this part of history - I was always more into Vikings, Saxons and Romans - not Victoria! I do remember having to do a project on Queen Victoria and we had reference books for me to delve in. I didn't know the hissy fits that she had - sounds just like Prince Charles, (we all hope the Queen outlives him!) who also has the tantrums.

  2. I agree with Kerry, above, on Prince Charles! Unfit! I noted how Alice sure looks like head on photos of her mother. Sometimes we seem to get into a duplicating machine, and make visual clones of ourselves! Laugh! I find this writing on Victoria and her family very interesting. For some reason recently in am semi fascinated with Britain. And Victoria's influence on fabrics, colors, etc. that we use in our 1800's reprints quilts.