Queen Victoria's Children

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria had nine children, five girls and four boys, with 17 years between the oldest and the youngest. Each had their own interests and distinct personalities.

Vicky (Princess Victoria, 1840-1901)

Vicky was Prince Albert’s favourite and a confident and talented child, who was fluent in French, German and English by the age of three. She also enjoyed painting, dancing and reading. She didn’t get on well with Bertie, who she often teased, but was close to her sister, Alice.

The nine grandchildren of the Duchess of Kent: pen and ink sketch by Queen Victoria

The nine grandchildren of the Duchess of Kent: pen and ink sketch by Queen Victoria
© Royal Archives/ /© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Bertie (Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, 1841-1910)

Bertie was less confident and intelligent than his siblings, who he was constantly compared with by the Queen. She and Prince Albert worried about his bad behaviour and poor school work. Prone to fits of temper he would often hit or bite his tutors or brothers and sisters. Aged 11 he was separated from the other children as a bad influence, and given a tough study programme to prepare him to be king.

“The Children at Osborne ”. Watercolour of the royal children at Osborne by Queen Victoria

“The Children at Osborne ”. Watercolour of the royal children at Osborne by Queen Victoria
© Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Alice (Princess Alice, 1843-1878)

Alice was the most even-tempered of the children and got on well with all her siblings. She was like an aunt to her younger brothers and sisters and was the only person who could draw her moody older brother Bertie into the children’s games. A gentle, charming and intelligent girl, the Queen called her ‘good amiable Alice’.

 

Queen Victoria and Prince Alfred with their children outside Osborne House, 1854

Queen Victoria and Prince Alfred with their children outside Osborne House, 1854 - photographed by Ernst Becker. Standing in front of the fountain outside Osborne House; from left to right: the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, Princess Alice, Prince Arthur (in front of Princess Alice), Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, Princess Louise, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Helena and Prince Alfred
© Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Alfred (Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, 1844-1900)

Affie was the most mischievous of the children, always getting into trouble for playing pranks or teasing his siblings. He was happiest when in his workshop at the Swiss Cottage making toys for the younger children, or taking apart and reassembling some mechanical device. From the age of 11 he began training for a career in the Navy.

The Royal Family, Osborne 1857

The Royal Family, Osborne 1857 photographed by Leonida Caldesi. From left to right: Prince Alfred, Prince Albert, Princess Helena, Princess Alice, Prince Arthur, Queen Victoria holding Princess Beatrice, Princess Royal, Princess Louise, Prince Leopold and the Prince of Wales
© Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Helena (Princess Helena 1846-1923)

Helena, called Lenchen by the Queen, was a tomboy and the toughest of the girls. She wasn’t interested in cooking, and would much rather help Affie in his workshop or play soldiers with Arthur at the fort. She loved gardening at the Swiss Cottage and feeding and grooming the horses down at the stables.
 

The children in the pleasure grounds at Osborne painted by Queen Victoria 1850

The children in the grounds of Osborne painted by Queen Victoria in 1850. From left to right: Alice, Affie, Bertie, Lenchen, Vicky, Louise, and Arthur in the arms of Mrs Thurston
© Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Louise (Princess Louise 1848-1939)

Louise was a pretty and affectionate girl, but also strong-willed and rather naughty. She was a very talented painter, and when she was older had a sculpture studio at Osborne. She also loved horses, and always tried to start the day with a morning ride.

 

Ernst Becker photograph of royal children on the coal bench at Osborne

Ernst Becker photograph of royal children on the coal bench at Osborne. Vicky, Bertie, Alice and Affie, with their butterfly nets and collecting boxes; August 1853. The children were encouraged to collect specimens for their natural history collections in the Swiss Cottage museum
© Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Arthur (Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught 1850 -1942)

Arthur was the best behaved of the children and the Queen’s favourite. He had a very active imagination, liked reading and playing with his toy soldiers. From an early age he was destined for a career in the army, announcing on his first birthday ‘Arta is going to be a soldier’.

 

Queen Victoria on the terrace at Osborne with baby Arthur by Winterhalter

Queen Victoria on the terrace at Osborne with baby Arthur. She gave this painting by Winterhalter to Prince Albert in 1850 and it hung in her sitting room
© Royal Collection Trust/ Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Leopold (Prince Leopold 1853-1884)

Leopold was an adventurous little boy, and completely fearless, but was often unwell which worried the Queen. Whenever he fell over, as often happened, he had to stay in bed for several days. By 1860 his illness was getting worse so he travelled round in a ‘little carriage’ when outdoors.


Beatrice (Princess Beatrice 1857-1944)

As the youngest of the children Beatrice was known by everyone as ‘Baby’. She was treated less strictly than her siblings, and was more spoiled, particularly by Prince Albert. After Albert’s death she was often left to play alone, but did enjoy playing with her nephews and nieces when they visited.

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