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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria's Journal - The death of Prince Leopold, 28th March 1884

On 28th March 1884, Prince Leopold, youngest son of Queen Victoria, died aged 30, at Villa Nevada, Cannes, France.

"Another awful blow has fallen upon me & all of us today. My beloved Leopold, that bright, clever son, who had so many times recovered from such fearful illness, & from various small accidents, has been taken from us! To lose another dear child, far from me, & one who was so gifted, & such a help to me, is too dreadful! - Beatrice was not well, & could not breakfast with me. Was expecting to hear about dear Leopold's leg. - A telegram sent last night & intended to be communicated to Sir E. Baring, refusing his very strong proposals, was brought to me, & I corrected & modified it. - Out with Horatia S., going to Adelaide Cottage & the Kennels. On getting home, took off my things & laid down on the sofa. Directly afterwards received a letter addressed by Horatia S., saying nothing, but enclosing a note from Sir H. Ponsonby, who had received a telegram from Cannes with the news that dear Leopold was "worse" indeed "seriously ill". I sent for Horatia, who said there was another cypher come. I told her to bring it in at once, & felt in an agony of suspense. She directly returned with the cypher from Mr Royle, saying, he with extreme regret, had to announce that my darling Leopold had died at 3.30. this morning, quite suddenly in his sleep, from the breaking of a blood vessel in the head. It is too awful, so heartbreaking! Today he was to have left Cannes, but the unfortunate sprain would have kept him a fortnight or 3 weeks longer there. Horatia told me he was "at rest", when I asked if all was over. Am utterly crushed. How dear he was to me, how I had watched over him! Oh! what grief, & that poor loving young wife, who has been kept on her sofa, more or less since the middle of January, for fear of any accident, how may this news affect her! Too, too dreadful! But we must bow to God's will & believe that it is surely for the best. The poor dear Boy's life had been a very tried one, from early childhood! He was such a dear charming companion, so entirely the "Child of the House". I ran off to darling Beatrice, who was resting in her own little room, & it was terrible to have to tell her the news, for she loved that brother so dearly. We were in such distress about poor Helen. Fortunately Lenchen settled to go to Claremont this morning, so Beatrice telegraphed to her, & we sent off endless telegrams to all relations & friends. [...]

Prince Leopold in 1883 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

[ ) The whole house is in consternation. Darling Leopold was so generally beloved! - Saw Sir Wm Jenner, who was dreadfully shocked. - Heard that poor Lenchen had to break the dreadful news to Helen. A preparatory telegram had been put into Lenchen's hands, whilst she was lunching with them all, Helen playing with the child! But Lenchen managed to control herself & wait till Helen got up from luncheon. she then went with her to her sitting room, where she began gradually to turn the conversation on darling Leopold, & said she feared he was very ill, upon which Helen asked her to tell her the truth, which she did.

Poor dear Helen was greatly overcome, but quite quiet & natural. It was piteous to see her, for she was so good & patient. Such a tragedy, for they were so happy & devoted to one another! - The dear Empress came over to enquire after me, but did not wish to disturb me & went to Beatrice. I hastened there to see her for a moment. she was so kind, so full of feeling, very much shocked & upset, as she loved dear Leopold who was so popular) & felt so much for me, Helen, & Beatrice. she had come off at once, just as she was, when she heard the news. - went back to rest a little, feeling stunned, bewildered & wretched. Poor dear Beatrice feels it most deeply. She & her dear brother, had grown up together, & since Louise married, were always so much together, when he was at home. I am a poor desolate old woman, & my cup of sorrow overflows! Oh! God in His mercy, spare my other dear children! - Saw Mile Norele, whom I had sent to Claremont, & she gave us some further details. She saw poor dear Helen, who was too touching. At first she could see no one, not even the child, but afterwards she did see her. Poor Mr Collins was in terrible distress, & so were all the servants. - Telegrams pouring in.

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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