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The Story of Princess Helena Victoria and Princess Marie Louise—Part 3: The Snipe

Princess Helena Victoria. Her sharp feature
earned her the ridicule of Princess
Alexandra who called her "Snipe."

Helena Victoria was known in the family as Thora. However, the princess of Wales referred to her as the "Snipe" because of her long face and nose and severe features. When she was young, she had high prospects of getting married. In fact, her mother tried to attract her cousin, Prince George (the future George V), towards her but she did not only failed to get the support of the Royal Family, she also incurred Princess 
Alexandra’s ridicule.

The princess of Wales, still unforgiving of the Schelwig-Holstein affair, wrote about this to his son Prince George: "So the Christians have been following you about with their lovely Snipe! Well, it would be a pleasure to welcome that "beauty" as your bride. You see she is quite prepared to take you by storm by already offering you her contrafeit in a frame!" Despite the sarcasm of the princess of Wales, Helena Victoria could have become a good wife for George V and great queen because of her kind hearted nature and intelligence. But it wasn’t her destiny. She spent the rest of her life serving as Queen Victoria’s companions, and later, in charitable works.

However, there were many courtiers who considered Helena Victoria a tough contender for “the highest position there is.” Although she was not as pretty as her cousin or her younger sister, she however exuded common sense and gentleness that made her a favorite of the family.

Princess Helena Victoria was particularly close to her cousin,
Princess Alix of Hesse, later Empress of Russia. 
“Thora is very sensible and level-headed and ought to have a chance,” Marie Mallet noted, “It would have been for instance a godsend to Russia if the Tsar had married her...”

The embarrassment of George’s rejection and the rebuke that she endured from Princess Alexandra made Thora careful in choosing a husband. As early as 1890, her aunt, Victoria, Princess Royal, who married the Crown Prince of Germany, wished “someone nice could be found.” Four years later she tried in vain to have her marry a minor German prince, Ernst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a grandson of Queen Victoria’s half-sister, Feodora. The plan turned out fruitless and the prince rather married Helena’s cousin, Princess Alexandra of Edinburgh. Almost a decade passed and the princess came past her prime, but still suitable candidate was found. In 1899, there were talks of a match with a minor Catholic prince but, in spite of her advanced age, the twenty-seven-year-old princess was careful:

“Thora wishes it to be clearly understood what would be done about the marriage,” Queen Victoria said, “Else, as she said, if she should like him and great difficulties arise afterwards about the religion, it would be very unpleasant and painful.” The plans ended in nothing.


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