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A Rose Named Alexandra: The Story of Europe's Most Beautiful Queen


Queen Alexandra’s singular beauty and charm endeared her to the British people the moment she stepped foot on the English soil in 1863. In fact, the arrival of the Sea King’s daughter was anticipated as it was celebrated that Tennyson penned a poem for her, “A Welcome to Alexandra.”

Early Life

Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, or "Alix" to her family, was born on December 1,1844, at the Yellow Palace in Copenhagen. Her father was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sondenburg-Glucksburg while her mother was Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel. The Glucksburgs were relatively minor royals and the family lived modestly. In fact, Alexandra and her younger sister Marie, to whom she shared much love and devotion, shared a draughty room in their home. The family fortune changed when the Great Powers agreed that Alexandra’s father should succeed the childless Frederick VII as King of Denmark. The lives of Prince Christian and his entire family eventually changed and the prospects of his children marrying into the royal houses of Europe were upped.

From left to right: Dagmar, Frederick, Valdemar, Christian IX, Queen Louise, Thyra,
George and Alexandra.

Engagement and Marriage 

By this time, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, worried about the behavior of their son, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, were looking for a possible bride for him. Victoria, Princess Royal, introduced Alexandra to the Prince of Wales at Speyer on September 1861. The following year, he proposed and they were married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on March 7,1863. She was given away by Prince Christian, who would begin his reign as king of Denmark in November that year. The entire chapel was shunned in dramatic silence the moment Alexandra entered, effortlessly wearing her regalia. Queen Victoria, who was hidden away from the crowd, quietly looked on as the wedding ceremony progressed.

The newly wedded couple established their London home at Marlborough House. Their country home, Sandringham in Norfolk, was purchased by Queen Victoria upon the request of the Prince of Wales. It was in Sandringham where she was happiest, surrounded by her horses and dogs. Initially,  Albert Edward did not give his wife as much attention as he would have and the two became estranged from one another. It was not until he suffered from typhoid in late 1871 that the two were reconciled.

Princess Alexandra of Denmark with Albert Edward,
Prince of Wales, c1863.


Princess of Wales 

The couple were generally regarded during that time as the society leader in London. In fact, Marlborough House was called the “alternative court” after Queen Victoria became a recluse the death of Prince Albert. Throughout her tenure as Princess of Wales (she was the longest-serving Princess of Wales), Alexandra was exceedingly popular, thanks to her selfless devotion to charities and her quiet dignity despite her husband’s misgivings and extramarital affairs. A fashion icon, her style of dress was copied by the fashion-conscious of her days. She popularized the wearing of choker necklaces and high necklines, which was a fad for over 50 years and her limping gait was imitated by society ladies.

A picture of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, c1881.


Queen Consort

She reigned with Edward as Queen Consort after Queen Victoria died in 1901, although she had little participation in government matters. Instead, she continued to busy herself in philanthropic causes, particularly in the care of the sick. She was visiting her brother, now King George I, in Greece when news that King Edward VII was ill with bronchitis reached her. She immediately returned to London, where she remained with the king’s side until his death on May 5, 1910.

The coronation portraits of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. 


Later Life and Death 

Queen Alexandra continued devoting her time to her charitable causes. She marked the 50th anniversary of her wedding with the late king by launching the Alexandra Rose Day, a yearly event held to raise funds for London hospitals by selling of artificial wild roses made by people with disabilities. The first Alexandra Rose Day raised over £32,000.

Queen Alexandra, c 1923.


Ever the anti-German, Queen Alexandra urged his son, King George V to "have down those hateful German banners" hanging in St. George’s Chapel at the height of World War I. In 1917, the King eventually changed the Royal Family’s name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. The murder of Alexandra’s nephew, Nicholas II,and his family took a serious blow to Queen Alexandra.

In December 1924, Queen Alexandra celebrated her 80th birthday surrounded by her family in Sandringham. There she quietly died on November 20, 1925. She was interred next to King Edward VII in St. George’s Chapel. All images were taken from Wikimedia Commons. 
  
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Comments

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