Alexandra of Denmark, Christian IX, Edward VII, King Christian IX of Denmark, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, King George I of the Hellenes, Kingdom of Denmark, kings and queens of the United Kingdom, Prince Albert Edward, Prince Albert Victor, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom
Alexandra of Denmark (Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia; December 1, 1844 – November 20, 1925) was Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress consort of India as the wife of King Edward VII.
Alexandra was born at the Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, right next to the Amalienborg Palace complex in Copenhagen. Her father was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and her mother was Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel.
Although she and her family were of royal blood, her family lived a comparatively normal life. They did not possess great wealth; her father’s income from an army commission was about £800 per year and their house was a rent-free grace and favour property. Alexandra’s family had been relatively obscure until 1852, when her father was chosen with the consent of the major European powers to succeed his distant cousin, Frederik VII of Denmark.
Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, were already concerned with finding a bride for their son and heir, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales. They enlisted the aid of their daughter, Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, in seeking a suitable candidate. Alexandra was not their first choice, since the Danes were at loggerheads with the Prussians over the Schleswig-Holstein Question and most of the British royal family’s relations were German. Eventually, after rejecting other possibilities, they settled on her as “the only one to be chosen”.
On September 24, 1861, Crown Princess Victoria introduced her brother Albert Edward to Alexandra at Speyer. Almost a year later on September 9, 1862 (after his affair with Nellie Clifden and the death of his father) Albert Edward proposed to Alexandra at the Royal Castle of Laeken, the home of his great-uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium.
Thomas Longley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, married the couple on March 10, 1863 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The choice of venue was criticised widely. As the ceremony took place outside London, the press complained that large public crowds would not be able to view the spectacle. Prospective guests thought it awkward to get to and, as the venue was small, some people who had expected invitations were disappointed.
Later in 1863, Alexandra’s father had ascended the throne of Denmark as King Christian IX, and her brother Vilhelm was elected King George I of the Hellenes (Greece), her sister Dagmar was engaged to the Tsesarevich of Russia, (she was engaged to Tsarevich Nicholas until his death and then she married his brother, the future Alexander III). Early in 1864 Alexandra had given birth to her first child, Prince Albert-Victor (Eddy) future Duke of Clarence and Avondale.
Her father’s accession gave rise to further conflict over the fate of Schleswig-Holstein. The German Confederation successfully invaded Denmark, reducing the area of Denmark by two-fifths. To the great irritation of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia, Alexandra and Albert Edward supported the Danish side in the war. The Prussian conquest of former Danish lands heightened Alexandra’s profound dislike of the Germans, a feeling which stayed with her for the rest of her life.
Alexandra showed devotion to her children: “She was in her glory when she could run up to the nursery, put on a flannel apron, wash the children herself and see them asleep in their little beds.” Albert Edward and Alexandra had six children in total: The aforementioned Albert Victor, George (future King), Louise, Victoria, Maud (future Queen Consort of Norway) and Alexander John, who died within a day.
From left to right: Prince George, the Princess and Prince of Wales and Princess Victoria (back row), Princess Maud, Prince Albert Victor and Princess Louise (front row)
Alexandra was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901, the longest anyone has ever held that title, and became generally popular; her style of dress and bearing were copied by fashion-conscious women. Largely excluded from wielding any political power, she unsuccessfully attempted to sway the opinion of British ministers and her husband’s family to favour Greek and Danish interests. Her public duties were restricted to uncontroversial involvement in charitable work.