Monday, December 9, 2019

Royal Romances of Today by Kellogg Durland

Part 1: Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain
Chapter 2: Girlhood

Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena was born October 24, 1887. She enjoyed the distinction of being the first royal baby born in Scotland for precisely two hundred and eighty-seven years. Through her girlhood she was much with her grandmother, Queen Victoria of England, and she also enjoyed the particular interest of her godmother, the Empress Eugenie of France, who later on was largely instrumental in bringing about the meeting between the young King of Spain and her godchild which resulted in her elevation to a throne.
Princess Ena was the only daughter in a family of four children, and her childhood was spent much in the company of her brothers, whose studies and play she shared. Before she was twelve years old she had learned to ride like a boy, to manage a boat and had acquired considerable skill with the fishing rod. After the death of her father, Prince Henry of Battenberg, Princess Ena assisted her mother in the administration of the Isle of Wight, which was the particular bailiwick of her family. Doubtless the early lessons of administration which she learned at this time was{8} the kind of preparation for the administrative duties of Queen, which, after her marriage, were to devolve upon her.
She received an education befitting a Princess of Great Britain. When still very young she had acquired a knowledge of French and German, and this practice in mastering new languages proved of great value later when she came to take up Spanish—a rich and full-throated tongue in which she became fluent within a few months.
Princess Ena also showed a decided talent for music and she is not only a ready, skilful pianist, but she also composes music.
Her young life was happy. She was the favourite, not only of Queen Victoria and Empress Eugenie, but of all the Royal family in England. There was no touch of the hard and sordid in those years. She dwelt in the midst of wholesome, happy people and always in beautiful places. The Isle of Wight, her home, is a sweet, tranquil haven, remote from the frequented paths of the world, far from the hurry and noise and dirt of modern England. In Spring and Summer it is like a great garden with abiding places set therein.
Balmoral in Scotland, where she was born and where she frequently lived, especially when her grandmother, Queen Victoria, was in residence in Scotland, is one of the most glorious spots in Britain. The magnificent Royal Park is widely encircled by the rugged mountains of that Northland. The river Dee, famed in song and story, runs close{9} to hand. This Northland is more mountainous and stern than Ayr or Dumfries, the land of Bobbie Burns, and as instinct with tradition of the fighting Jacobite times as the Border country—the land of Scott—or Loch Leven with its memories of Queen Mary. Princess Ena revelled in the stirring past as she breathed the strong air of the Cairngorms, growing physically strong and sturdy, innocent of the Destiny which was to shape her life and make her a Mother of Kings.
One winter Princess Henry of Battenberg went to Egypt, taking with her her four children. This proved a memorable year to Princess Ena, for she became familiar with new surroundings and acquainted with ancient civilisations, in which she evinced a remarkable interest. Here, too, the Princess had her first experience away from royal precincts, as the winter was mostly spent in the Cataract Hotel at Aswan. It was the wish of Princess Henry that she and her children be treated precisely as the other guests of the hotel were treated, and the Princess Ena came to know many people who were of a world far removed from her own.
Many stories are told in Egypt to-day of the laughing golden-haired English Princess who was never so weary as to cease from fun and mischief, and many a prank instigated by her and her brothers is recalled. Her brightness and abounding good nature were widely appreciated and the memory she has left there is sweet and good.
Christmas Day in a foreign land is always dull{10} and dreary, and English people, perhaps, miss home on this day above all others in the year.
The manager of the Cataract Hotel—Herr Steiger—being anxious to lift in some measure the pall of gloom which hung over his guests that Christmas planned a little surprise which he sprang at the dinner hour. Toward the close of the meal the lights in the dining salon were suddenly extinguished and a band of picturesque Orientals entered the room bearing lighted tapers and trays of gifts. Their fantastic garb of white bournous, red fez and white turbans looked weirdly strange against the darkness and as the file approached the table where sat the royal party a burst of loud applause came spontaneously from the guests at the other tables. No sooner had the first defile circled round the royal table than other similar groups entered the room and ranged around the other tables. In a moment of silence the Princess Ena was heard to exclaim: “Oh! how nice of Herr Steiger to have given this pleasure to everyone and not only to us!”
This charming consideration for others is a characteristic of her nature which has deepened with years and has proved one of the qualities which so quickly endeared her to the people of her adopted land.
At the age of eighteen Princess Ena had her formal “coming out” into Society. The event took place at the Infirmary Ball at Ryde, and immediately after she was presented at Windsor and en{11}tered upon a gay season in London. It was toward the end of this very first season that she met for the first time the impetuous and dashing young man who at first sight of her surrendered his heart and in record time led her up the steps of a throne to share with him the ermine of sovereignty.
In their meeting and courtship lies a tale of pure romance. No story of any “castle in Spain” runs more delightfully, and no tale of the storied Alhambra quickens the pulse beats faster.
Don Alfonso XIII of Spain, who was literally born a king, his father having died several months before his birth, at the early age of 28, was still in his teens when his court and ministers began to drop thinly veiled hints concerning a possible alliance for the young sovereign. The King from earliest boyhood had showed that he had a mind and determination of his own, and whenever the matter of his marriage was broached he would make reply: “I shall marry a princess who takes my fancy, and nobody else. I want to love my wife.” A noble and worthy ambition surely, especially for a king!
The Emperor of Germany had long hoped to arrange a match between the King of Spain and a German princess, while several princesses in other countries of Europe nourished secret hopes that they might one day sit on the Spanish throne. Political exigencies, however, demanded an English princess if a suitable and acceptable one could be found for the youthful monarch.{12}
During the spring of Don Alfonso’s twentieth year, the very year of Princess Ena’s coming out, he went with a regal suite to London. Wiseacres had picked Princess Patricia of Connaught as the probable choice of the dashing young sovereign. Indeed the whispers of Mayfair drawing-rooms had the match entirely arranged long before the King arrived in London.
June in London is often a delightful and beautiful month—a month of awakening surprises, when the trees and flowers come quickly into bloom and blossom through the spring haze. The June week chosen for the visit of the Spanish King, however, proved a disappointing exception, for mist and drizzling rain characterised the period of his stay, but all the rain and dampness of Britain, if concentrated in London, would not have marred the indefatigable energy of this strenuous young man, who not only participated in all the festivities arranged for him by the committees of the Court and Municipality, but also managed to do much extra sight-seeing and, most important of all, to make up his mind which princess should be the next Queen of Spain—his bride.
Despite the gossips who already had Princess Patricia the affianced bride of the young King, when these two met it was evident that neither attracted the other. Far too often in the history of nations personal attraction has not been a dominating influence in royal marriages. If reasons of state have demanded the marriage the individuals have sunk their own feelings, surrendered their personal happiness—and lived on, perpetual victims of the political demands of their respective states. But Don Alfonso XIII had no desire to martyr himself in this way. No more the Princess Patricia.
The late King Edward had arranged dinners, dances and fĂȘtes in Buckingham Palace in honour of the King of Spain. There were gathered the very flower of the youth of Britain. Don Alfonso was seen to be instantly struck by the sight of a certain golden-haired girl whom he saw flitting here and there across the rooms.
“Who is she?” he finally inquired.
“Princess Ena of Battenberg,” was the reply.
The two were presented. They talked together and were visibly interested in each other. They met again and each day so long as the King remained in London.
A few months later, King Alfonso confessed that the first moment he saw Princess Ena, he determined that she was the one who must share the responsibilities of his Kingdom with him, and that if his suit were not accepted by the Princess, or if any reasons of State intervened to prevent the marriage, his country would go without a queen so long as he lived. Fortunately, no reasons of State developed to hinder the marriage and the one obstacle raised by the Church was overcome when the Princess declared her readiness to accept the Roman Catholic Faith, for King Alfonso is{14} known as His Most Catholic Majesty, and church influence, though waning, is still strong in Spain.
The marriage was favoured and encouraged by King Edward, that gracious and genial Uncle of Europe, and his sanction was sufficiently strong to bring about what was to King Alfonso and to Spain an exceedingly desirable union. No public announcement of the betrothal was made for six months after the visit to England, but rumour carried abroad the suspicions which were later confirmed.

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Royal Romances of Today by Kellogg Durland

Part 1: Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain Chapter 4: A Royal Wedding The  train which carried Princess Ena across France toward her unk...