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Queen Victoria’s Daughters-in-Law (Hardback)

P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Royal History Women of History

By John Van der Kiste
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399001458
Published: 7th February 2023



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Of Queen Victoria’s four sons, the eldest married a Danish princess, one a Russian Grand Duchess, and the other two princesses of German royal houses.

The first to join the family of the ‘Grandmama of Europe’ was Alexandra, eldest daughter of the prince about to become King Christian IX of Denmark. Charming, ever sympathetic and widely considered one of the most attractive royal women of her time, she was prematurely deaf and suffered from a limp which was made fashionable by court ladies due to her popularity. Alexandra proved an ideal wife for the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Grand Duchess Marie, daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and wife of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and later Saxe-Coburg Gotha, was cultured and intelligent, but dowdy, haughty and, convinced of the Romanovs’ superiority, resented having to give precedence at court to her in-laws.

Louise of Prussia, a niece of William I, German Emperor, had the good fortune to escape from a miserable family life in Berlin and marry Arthur, Duke of Connaught, a dedicated army officer who was always the Queen’s favourite among her children.

Finally, Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont, sister of Emma, Queen Consort of the Netherlands, became the wife of the cultured Leopold, Duke of Albany, but he was haemophiliac and their marriage was destined to be the briefest of all, cut short by his sudden death less than three years later.

All four were very different personalities, proved themselves to be supportive wives, mothers and daughters-in-law in their own way, and dedicated workers for charity at home and abroad. Based partly on previously unpublished material from the Royal Archives at Windsor and Madrid, and the Leonie Leslie Papers, University of Chicago, this is the first book to study all four as a family group.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

John Van der Kiste’s Queen Victoria’s Daughters-in-Law is an interesting book about Queen Victoria’s four daughters-in-laws. All four were of royal birth, and they were supportive of charities and very dedicated to their families. I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this well-written, well-researched book. Well done!

NetGalley, Jamie Lovett

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Lots of information regarding Queen Victoria and her children and their spouses. It was a very interesting read.

NetGalley, Patti Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I enjoy reading anything Victorian, so I was so pleased to receive an arc of this book. So well researched, full of interesting facts. Recommended.

NetGalley, Wendy M Rhodes

I am a bit of a history geek and Queen Victoria is one of my favourite Queen's as well as periods of time.

I really enjoyed this book, written in chronological order and providing lots of interesting facts and information about the women and their mother-in-law. While a fan of Victoria, being her daughter-in-law was not at all easy, as she enjoyed controlling not just her children's lives but their wives too.

NetGalley, Natalie Gardner

This is a book absolutely recommended for those fascinated by the family of Queen Victoria, in particular the female side.

NetGalley, Kirsty Whyte

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really liked the balance in the book. The main storyline focused on Queen Victoria and her many descendants. When it came time for one of them to marry, everything centered on the family of the daughter-in-law-to-be.
Personally, I really liked the fates of the various ladies after Queen Victoria's death. The events during her lifetime are more familiar.
Still, even this part contains a lot of interesting stories. I was intrigued that the Russian Tsar thought the Grand Duchess of Russia should take precedence over the Princess of Wales.
I enjoyed the book very much. I recommend it even if you are already familiar with the ladies. You will definitely learn something new.

NetGalley, Magdalena Šejdová

I have been a fan of Van der Kiste’s books for decades.
He showcases the four daughters in law of Queen Victoria. I knew the most about Alix and.Marie and the least about Louise Connaught.
He did a good job describing their lives and relationships with each other and the Queen.

NetGalley, Janilyn Kocher

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In his newest book, John Van der Kiste spotlights Queen Victoria’s four daughters-in-law: Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, Princess Louise of Prussia, and Princess Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont. While Princess Alexandra has received the most coverage, becoming Queen of England in 1901, Van der Kiste overlaps her life with that of three of her sisters-in-law, who are less discussed in the history of English royalty-by-marriage. The spotlight on the other three daughters-in-law adds to this book and gives these overshadowed women the chance to be central to a narrative. Van der Kiste breaks the book down by various time periods (mid-Victorian, late Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian), and this organization breaks the book into manageable sections defined by clear events (as compared to having each daughter-in-law with her own chapter). While the numbering of chapters is slightly annoying (restarting the chapter numbers at 1 in each section rather than continuing to count up), the book’s organization allows the reader to easily follow four lives over a sixty-year period. Van der Kiste’s familiarity with his subject material and clear depth of knowledge and references makes this thoroughly detailed book a must-read for any reader interested in British history or the Victorian era.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Queen Victoria's Daughters-in-Law is a really interesting book! I have read several of John Van her Kiste's other biographies, and this book continues as the others and is well-researched, interesting and gets into the details and other people other than Victoria and the kings and queens around Europe who were related to her. The only of Victoria's daughter's in law that I really knew anything about was Alexandra, the consort to King Edward. It was really interesting to read about the three other European princesses that married into the Saxe-Coburg family. I had no idea that Marie, the next eldest daughter-in-law was rather spoiled and snobby, now how she was used to the astronomical wealth in the Romanov court that made assimilating to British royal family culture even harder. I also knew nothing about Louise or Helena, the other daughters-in-law, and appreciated a book that delves more into their histories and life.
I like any history book involving the lives of women, and this book is a knowledgeable, well-researched read. I think it would be a great audiobook, as well! Recommend to anyone who likes British, European, Russian, or German history, especially concentrated during the 19th and early 20th century.

NetGalley, Vanessa Stoner

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

John Van der Kiste is a well known author when it comes to royal biographies. His books always leave you with new knowledge and interesting facts about the royals you are reading about. And Queen Victoria's Queen Victoria's Daughters-in-Law is no different.

Queen Victoria may have been called the Grandmother of Europe due to her various grandchildren marrying into royal families all over Europe and sitting on some of the most powerful thrones, but her daughters-in- law also came from some of the top European royal houses, too.

>From a Russian Tsar's only daughter to an impoverish Danish princess, readers are introduced to four women who helped to mold and rear future monarchs and leaders. Each suffered in her own way whether from straying husbands, the lost of children or being widowed early on.

Queen Victoria's Daughters-in-Law is a must read for anyone who loves the history of royalty, women's history or anything related to Queen Victoria. Or if you are just a fan of John Van der Kiste's writing.

NetGalley, Missy Lynne

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love reading about Queen Victoria, but I had never read anything about her daughters-in-law. The author did a wonderful job of presenting the history in a manner that did not have bias. While the book is about Alexandra, Grand Duchess Maria, Louise of Prussia, and Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont, the book dives into their relationships with the Queen. Whenever possible the author uses quotes from letters. Sometimes reading Queen Victoria's thoughts on her daughters-in-law was a bit harsh. On a side note, I thought all of their stories were interesting, but the one I loved the most was Grand Duchess Maria. I feel hers was by far the most captivating having come from the Russian court. Personally, I can't imagine how difficult it was for Grand Duchess Maria to find her place in the English royal family.

NetGalley, Gina Iorio

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine being a daughter-in-law to demanding and controlling Queen Victoria whose words were law. She had four fascinating daughters-in-law, all of high international standing. Only Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna was not intimidated but the other three understandably were. Evidently, however, they all admired their mother in law. The engrossing book is divided into five eras, The Early Victorian Years, The Mid-Victorian Years, The Later Victorian Years, The Edwardian Era and The Georgian Era. Photographs are insightful and incredible. Some women married for love, others for geopolitical ties.

Alexandra (Alix), daughter of soon-to-be King Christian IX of Denmark, married Edward for love...and it was mutual. She suffered illnesses including premature deafness and an infuriating limp which became affectionately known and emulated as the "Alexandra limp". She was caring, selfless and warmhearted. Grand Duchess Marie, daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia married Alfred. She was intelligent, defied convention (breastfed children which was looked upon with horror by Queen Victoria) and at times her Russian roots became problematic as she held a certain disdain for Britain. However, she was cheerful. Louise of Prussia was the niece of William I and married Arthur for love. She was upright and frank and though had difficulty with bonding with her children, her husband helped her. Helen, sister of the Queen Consort of the Netherlands married Leopold. She had an enquiring mind and enjoyed solving mathematical problems. Their marriage was sadly very short. Helen showed compassion to others suffering heartache and liked "to go among the people".
Some married for love, others were geopolitical matches. Though rich and powerful, they all experienced grief and sorrow.

Author John Van der Kiste did a fantastic job of tying in the histories of these women before they met their future husbands and mother-in-law. Though I have read a lot about the Victorian era in general, it was wonderful to dive deeper into the lives of the women who married Queen Victoria's sons, especially all in one book.

Intrigued by these young women, their families and influence? You cannot miss this book, perfect for Nonfiction readers who seek to learn more about the ins and outs of royal life in these years. The author's copious research shows!

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this mesmerizing and riveting book which drew me in so much the rest of my evening was spent researching these women and their families to learn more.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I've read a few of Van der Kiste's other books about royals and have always been fairly well-impressed. Every thing is backed by detailed and thorough research. In this case, a look at 4 women, from different different situations throughout Europe and Russia was fascinating. Van der Kiste did not tell each story in isolation, but rather interwove them as the historical timeline allowed.

NetGalley, Jennifer Turney LaRowe

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I always have had a fascination with Queen Victoria. Therefore I have really enjoyed learning more about her 9 children and their husbands/wives

It's a well researched and written book.
Thank you for letting me read it.

NetGalley, Louise Emerson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Anyone familiar with John van der Kiste previous royal biographies will not be disappointed by his latest monograph centered around the lives of the four talented daughters-in-law of Queen Victoria.

With Alexandra of Danemark, Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (Duchess of Edinburgh), Louise Margaret of Prussia (Duchess of Connaught) and Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont (Duchess of Albany) the author offers us four fascinating portraits of royal women and their lives within the extended royal family. An exquisite glimpse at Victoria's entourage, full of delightful anecdotes and fascinating details about the various relationships within the royal family.

NetGalley, jean luc estrella

A very enjoyable book to read as other than the first daughter in law (Alexandra) I can’t say i knew about the others, so from a history point of view it was a good read. It was then interesting to read about the various connections that Queen Victoria’s offspring’s had thought Europe so when WW1 came round it was almost a case of relative v relative depending on which branch the offspring had originated from!

NetGalley, Tracy Collier

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Never knew much about the women who married Queen Victoria's sons. This was a fascinating read. These women knew triumph and tragedy. The only one who actually became queen was Alexandra and she was known to speak her mind. She was protective of her children and her husband at times. She appeared to be well liked by the people of Britain. It was rather shocking how they were chosen as often royals married within the family .
Highly recommend this book for those who love reading about history especially British history.

NetGalley, Gail Allen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting look into the women who married into the Dynasty of Queen Victoria and what they had to deal with regarding her strong personality.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

If you want to learn more about the daughters in law of Queen Victoria, this book is an excellent overview.

NetGalley, Melisa Safchinsky

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow what a fascinating book! The author did a great job on the research and I didn't really know much about these women.
I have been ready all about the Tudor era and Queen Victoria herself, but I am looking to branch out and learn more. Highly recommend for history buffs.

NetGalley, Heather Michael

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A great look at the women who were brave enough to marry Queen Victoria’s sons and endure her micromanagement. Queen Alexandra, being the wife of the oldest son is frequently a focus of books about her husband, but the other women are frequently overlooked.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have read so much about Queen Victoria and her family but this is the first about people that are not directly her family. I loved how deep this book went into their lives, not skipping even minor details.

NetGalley, Emy Girard

While you normally read about Victoria and her daughters I don’t think I’ve ever read one that focused on her daughter-in-laws. Just if they were mentioned in passing as the wife of whatever son. And this book brings to life the lives her daughter in laws. And shows who they were in their own right. And though this book you can see how and why Victoria was given the nickname the grandmother of Europe.

NetGalley, Carissa Miller

About John Van der Kiste

John Van der Kiste has published over ninety books, including historical and royal biographies covering the Stuart, Georgian and Victorian eras in Britain, and the German, Austrian and Russian dynasties, including Queen Victoria’s ChildrenThe RomanovsAlexander II and his familyThe End of the Habsburgs; biographies of Emperors William II and Francis Joseph, and titles on contemporary rock music, including biographies and studies of the work of The Beatles, ELO, Led Zeppelin, and Steve Winwood; and works on local history and true crime. He has reviewed books and records for national, local and independent publications, and contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He lives in Devon and his recreations include reading, music and painting.

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