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Victoria, Princess Royal (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa; November 21, 1840 – August 5, 1901) was German Empress and Queen of Prussia by marriage to German Emperor Friedrich III. She was the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and was created Princess Royal in 1841. She was the mother of German Emperor Wilhelm II.

In the German Confederation, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and his wife Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach were among the personalities with whom Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were allies. The British sovereign also had regular epistolary contact with her cousin Augusta since 1846. The revolution that broke out in Berlin in 1848 further strengthened the links between the two royal couples by requiring the heir presumptive to the Prussian throne to find shelter for three months in the British court.

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In 1851, William returned to London with his wife and two children (Friedrich and Louise), on the occasion of The Great Exhibition. For the first time, Victoria met her future husband, and despite the age difference (she was 11 years old and he was 19), they got along very well. To promote the contact between the two, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert asked their daughter to guide Frederick through the exhibition, and during the visit the princess was able to converse in perfect German while the prince was able to say only a few words in English. The meeting was therefore a success, and years later, Prince Friedrich recalled the positive impression that Victoria made on him during this visit, with her mixture of innocence, intellectual curiosity and simplicity.

It was not only his encounter with little Victoria, however, that positively impressed Frederick during the four weeks of his English stay. The young Prussian prince shared his liberal ideas with the Prince Consort. Frederick was fascinated by the relationships among the members of the British royal family. In London, court life was not as rigid and conservative as in Berlin, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s relationship with their children was very different to Wilhelm and Augusta’s relationship with theirs.

After Friedrich returned to Germany, he began a close correspondence with Victoria. Behind this nascent friendship was the desire of Queen Victoria and her husband to forge closer ties with Prussia. In a letter to her uncle, the king of the Belgians, the British sovereign conveyed the desire that the meeting between her daughter and the Prussian prince lead to a closer relationship between the two young people.

In 1855, Prince Friedrich made another trip to Great Britain and visited Victoria and her family in Scotland at Balmoral Castle. The purpose of his trip was to see the Princess Royal again, to ensure that she would be a suitable consort for him. In Berlin, the response to this journey to Britain was far from positive. In fact, many members of the Prussian court wanted to see the heir presumptive’s son marry a Russian grand duchess. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who had allowed his nephew to marry a British princess, even had to keep his approval a secret because his own wife showed strong Anglophobia.

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At the time of Friedrich second visit, Victoria was 15 years old. A little shorter than her mother, the princess was 1.50 m tall (4 feet 11 inches) and Queen Victoria considered her far from the ideal of beauty of the time. Queen Victoria was concerned that the Prussian prince would not find her daughter sufficiently attractive. However, when I look at pictures of the Princess Royal at this time, personally I think she’s very pretty.

Nevertheless, from the first dinner with the prince, it was clear to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert that the mutual sympathy of the two young people that began in 1851 was still vivid. In fact, after only three days with the royal family, Friedrich asked Victoria’s parents permission to marry their daughter. They were thrilled by the news, but gave their approval on condition that the marriage should not take place before Vicky’s seventeenth birthday.

Once this condition was accepted, the engagement of Victoria and Frederick was publicly announced on May 17, 1856. The immediate reaction in Great Britain was disapproval. The English public complained about the Kingdom of Prussia’s neutrality during the Crimean War of 1853-1856. The Times characterized the Hohenzollern as a “miserable dynasty” that pursued an inconsistent and unreliable foreign policy, with the maintenance of the throne depending solely on Russia. The newspaper also criticised the failure of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV to respect the political guarantees given to the population during the revolution of 1848. In the German Confederation, the reactions to the announcement of the engagement were mixed: several members of the Hohenzollern family and conservatives opposed it, and liberal circles welcomed the proposed union with the British crown.

Convinced that the marriage of a British princess to the second-in-line to the Prussian throne would be regarded as an honour by the Hohenzollerns, Prince Albert insisted that his daughter retain her title of Princess Royal after the wedding. However, owing to the very anti-British and pro-Russian views of the Berlin court, the prince’s decision only aggravated the situation.

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The question of where to hold the marriage ceremony raised the most criticism. To the Hohenzollerns, it seemed natural that the nuptials of the future Prussian king would be held in Berlin. However, Queen Victoria insisted that her eldest daughter must marry in her own country, and in the end, she prevailed. The wedding of Victoria and Friedrich took place at the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace in London on January 25, 1858.