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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Journal - The death of Princess Alice, 14th December 1878

Princess Alice in 1875 © National Portrait Gallery London

“This terrible day come round again! Slept tolerably, but woke very often, constantly seeing darling Alice before me. When I woke in the morning, was not for a moment aware of all our terrible anxiety. And then it all burst upon me. I asked for news, but nothing had come. Then got up, & went, as I always do on this day, to the Blue Room, & prayed there. Found a letter from Sir Wm Jenner on my dressing table, dated from the day before yesterday. But it contained only an “extender” of the telegrams, & gave no bad symptoms. When dressed, I went into my sittingrooom for breakfast, & met Brown coming in with 2 bad telegrams; looked first at one from Louis, which I did not at first take in, saying: “Poor Mama, poor me, my happiness gone, dear, dear Alice. God’s will be done” (I can hardly write it!) The other, from Sir Wm Jenner saying: “Gd Duchess became suddenly worse soon after midnight, since then could no longer take any food”. Directly after, came another with the dreadful tidings, that darling Alice sank gradually & passed away ½ p. 7 this morning! It is too awful! I had so hoped against hope. I hurried to poor dear Beatrice, already much distressed, at the worse news, & then went back to my room, where poor Leopold met me, to whom I broke the news, & who sobbed bitterly, whilst I embraced & pressed him to me. ” am so sorry for you dear Mama, she loved you so tenderly & devotedly”, which I know she did, dear sweet Child. We all said “Poor Louis, poor children”, for to them it must be too fearful. Went to Bertie’s sittingroom. He was not ready for a few minutes, but soon came out in his dressing gown, having received the same dreadful news from Sir William, looking dreadfully pale & haggard, trying to repress his violent emotion, quite choked with it. His despair was great, & he could hardly speak. As I kissed him, he said “the good are always taken the bad remain”.


Went in for a moment to dear Alix, who was dressing, & took her in my arms. She was much affected & distressed & said “wish I had died instead of her” All, in the house, were crying & in great distress. — Telegrams streaming in, all day, from all sides. Hardly able to answer them. Had already yesterday countermanded the service in the Mausoleum, for this day. That this dear, talented, distinguished, tender hearted, noble minded, sweet child, who behaved so admirably, during her dear Father’s illness, & afterwards, in supporting me, & helping me in every possible way, — should be called back to her Father, on this very anniversary, seems almost incredible, & most mysterious! To me, there seems something touching in the union which this brings, their names being forever united on this day, of their birth into another better world! — Lenchen arrived soon after 11, very much distressed, for we had been full of hope last night. Walked down to the dear Mausoleum, with Alix, Lenchen & Beatrice, where we met Bertie, Leopold & Christian, & we went & placed wreaths on my beloved one’s tomb, kneeling by it, & thinking of her, who far off, was lying lifeless, but whose pure spirit, was reunited, to the father she loved so dearly. I decided with Bertie, as we left the Mausoleum, & walked slowly to Frogmore, to have a reclining statue of our beloved Alice placed there, & he at once suggested Boehm, in which I quite agree. — Saw good little Dean Stanley, who was very much affected, & offered to stay over tomorrow, to perform a short service, which I gratefully accepted. — Bertie & Leopold, also Christian, decided to go & pay the last respects, though one could hardly mention it. Told Bertie I should like to add sweet little May to Alice’s statue, which he equally thought would be very appropriate & beautiful. He is looking quite ill, & I never saw him so cast down. — Took a short drive quite away from everything with Alix Beatrice.

Frogmore: interior of the Royal Mausoleum, showing the monument to Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, with her daughter, Princess May’ by Arthur Robertson, dated 1897

Bertie came to me to talk over various things, & was very affectionate, but terribly distressed. He had seen Boehm, who would at once set about a model. The little bust from the statuette of dear Alice is perfection. — Saw good Mary Biddulph, who for the first time had come up to the Castle, & seemed quite to forget her own sorrow in ours, & later, saw the Dss of Atholl, who was very kind, & who had been here, when our first great sorrow overwhelmed us, but strange to say, rarely at this season, since. — We heard, during our sad dinner of 5, that the last sad ceremony, was to be already on Wednesday, & that Sir Wm Jenner would leave tomorrow. Bertie & Leopold have decided to go.”


© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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