House of Windsor, King George V of the United Kingdom, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Helen Victoria of Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, Princess Helena of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Royal Titles, YWCA
Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (Victoria Louise Sophia Augusta Amelia Helena; May 3, 1870 – March 13, 1948) was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. From 1917 her name was simply Princess Helena Victoria.
Princess Helena Victoria (always known to her family as Thora) was born at Frogmore House, near Windsor Castle. Her father was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the third son of Christian August II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
and Countess Louise af Danneskjold-Samsøe.
Her mother was Princess Helena, the fifth child and third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her parents resided in Britain from marriage.
She was baptised in the private chapel at Windsor Castle on June 20, 1870. Her godparents were Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Cambridge (former Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel), Princess Louise, Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, Prince Valdemar of Denmark, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, Princess Louise Auguste of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Caroline Amelie of Schleswig-Holstein (the latter two represented by the Duchess of Roxburghe).
She was a bridesmaid at the 1885 wedding of her maternal aunt Princess Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg and also at the wedding of her cousins the Duke and Duchess of York (future George V and Queen Mary) in 1893.
She spent most of her childhood at Cumberland Lodge, her father’s residence as Ranger of Windsor Great Park. Known to her family as “Thora”, or sometimes “Snipe”, in reference to her sharp facial features, formally she used the names “Helena Victoria” from among her string of six given names.
First World War
As a male-line granddaughter of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Helena Victoria would have been styled Serene Highness (Durchlaucht) in the German Empire.
In May 1866, Queen Victoria had conferred the higher style of Highness upon any children to be born of the marriage of Princess Helena and Prince Christian, although the children were to remain Prince or Princess of Schleswig-Holstein.
In June 1917, a notice appeared in the Court Circular that a Royal Warrant was to be prepared by George V dispensing with his cousins’ use of the “Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg” part of their titles.
However no warrant was issued, nor were they formally granted the titles of Princesses of Great Britain and Ireland nor of the United Kingdom in their own right.
In July 1917, King George V changed the name of the British royal family to the House of Windsor. He also relinquished, on behalf of himself and his numerous cousins who were British subjects, the use of their German titles, styles, and surnames. Princess Helena Victoria and her younger sister, Princess Marie Louise, thereupon ceased to use the territorial designation “of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.”
Instead, they became known simply as “Her Highness Princess Helena Victoria” and “Her Highness Princess Marie Louise”. Although the two had borne German titles, their upbringing and domicile were entirely English.
Princess Helena Victoria never married. She followed her mother’s example in working for various charitable organizations, most notably YMCA, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and Princess Christian’s Nursing Home at Windsor. During World War I, she founded the YWCA Women’s Auxiliary Force. As its president, she visited British troops in France and obtained the permission of the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, to arrange entertainments for them.
Between the world wars, she and her sister, Princess Marie Louise, were enthusiastic patrons of music at Schomberg House, their London residence. After a German air raid damaged the house in 1940, the two princesses moved to Fitzmaurice Place, Berkeley Square.
In ill health and a wheelchair user after World War II, Princess Helena Victoria made one of her last major appearances at the November 20, 1947 wedding of her first cousin twice removed Princess Elizabeth, to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.
Princess Helena Victoria died at Fitzmaurice Place, Berkeley Square. Her funeral took place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor and she was buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, Windsor Great Park. She died at the age of 77, the same age at which her mother, Princess Helena, had also died.