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Alexandra of Denmark (December 1, 1844 – November 20, 1925) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, from January 22, 1901 to May 6, 1910 as the wife of King-Emperor Edward VII.

Princess Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, or “Alix”, as her immediate family knew her, was born at the Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, immediately adjacent 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-Cassel. She had five siblings: Frederik, (Vilhelm) George, Dagmar (later Empress of Russia), Thyra and Valdemar.

Her father’s family was a distant cadet branch of the Danish royal House of Oldenburg, which was descended from King Christian III. Although they were of royal blood, the family lived a comparatively modest 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. Occasionally, Hans Christian Andersen was invited to call and tell the children stories before bedtime.

In 1848, Christian VIII of Denmark died and his only son Frederik ascended the throne. Frederik VII was childless, had been through two unsuccessful marriages, and was assumed to be infertile. A succession crisis arose because Frederik VII ruled in both Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein, and the succession rules of each territory differed.

In Holstein, the Salic law prevented inheritance through the female line, whereas no such restrictions applied in Denmark. Holstein, being predominantly German, proclaimed independence and called in the aid of Prussia. In 1852, the major European powers called a conference in London to discuss the Danish succession.

Yellow Palace, Copenhagen: Alexandra’s childhood home

An uneasy peace was agreed, which included the provision that Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg would be Frederick’s heir in all his dominions and the prior claims of others (who included Christian’s own mother-in-law, brother-in-law and wife) were surrendered.

Prince Christian was given the title Prince of Denmark and his family moved into a new official residence, Bernstorff Palace. Although the family’s status had risen, there was little or no increase in their income; and they did not participate in court life at Copenhagen, for they refused to meet Frederick’s third wife and former mistress, Louise Rasmussen, because she had an illegitimate child by a previous lover.

Alexandra and Albert Edward as the Prince and Princess of Wales

Alexandra shared a draughty attic bedroom with her sister, Dagmar, made her own clothes, and waited at table along with her sisters. Alexandra and Dagmar were given swimming lessons by the Swedish pioneer of women’s swimming, Nancy Edberg. At Bernstorff, Alexandra grew into a young woman; she was taught English by the English chaplain at Copenhagen and was confirmed in Christiansborg Palace. She was devout throughout her life, and followed High Church practice

At the age of sixteen Alexandra was chosen as the future wife of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the son and heir apparent of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The couple married eighteen months later in 1863, the year in which her father became King ing of Denmark as Christian IX and her brother Wilhelm was elected king of the Hellenes as George I.

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.

On the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Albert Edward became King-Emperor as Edward VII, with Alexandra as Queen-Empress. She held the status until Edward’s death in 1910, at which point their son George V ascended the throne. Alexandra died aged 80 in 1925.

Queen Alexandra is the Great-Great-Grandmother of King Charles III of the United Kingdom.