Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg

Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg

Infobox Spanish Royalty|majesty
name =Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
title =Queen consort of Spain

reign =31 May 1906 - 28 February 1941
reign-type =Consort
spouse =Alfonso XIII
spouse-type =Consort to
issue =Infante Alfonso, Prince of Asturias
Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia
Infanta Beatrice, Princess of Civitella-Cesi
Infanta Maria Cristina, Countess of Marone
Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona
Infante Gonzalo de Borbón y Battenberg
full name =Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena
titles ="HM" The Queen of Spain
"HRH" Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
"HSH" Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
| royal house =House of Bourbon
House of Hesse
father =Prince Henry of Battenberg
mother =Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
date of birth =birth date|1887|10|24|df=y
place of birth =Balmoral Castle, Scotland
date of death =death date and age|1969|4|15|1887|10|24|df=y
place of death =Lausanne, Switzerland
place of burial =Royal Vault, Escorial|

Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena; 24 October 1887 - 15 April 1969), was queen consort of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. The current King of Spain, Juan Carlos, is her grandson.

Early life

Victoria Eugenie was born on October 24 1887 at Balmoral Castle, Scotland. Her father was Prince Henry of Battenberg, the fourth child and second son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine by his morganatic wife Countess Julia von Hauke. Her mother was Princess Beatrice, the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria.

As her father was the product of a morganatic marriage, Henry took his style of "Prince of Battenberg" from his mother, who had been created Princess of Battenberg in her own right. As such Henry's daughter would have been born "Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg". She was named for her two grandmothers and for her godmother, Empress Eugénie, the Spanish-born widow of the former Emperor of the French Napoleon III, who lived in exile in England. The last of her given names was chosen because of her birth in Scotland (her younger brother Maurice would receive "Donald" as the last of his given names for the same reason) and due to her lineage: Princess Beatrice had written 'Eua' on the birth document (a Gaelic name), but this was misread by Dr. Cameron Lees, who presided at her christening, as 'Ena'. To her family, and the British general public, she was ever afterwards known as "Ena".

Victoria Eugenie grew up in Queen Victoria's household, as the British monarch had reluctantly allowed Beatrice to marry on the condition that she remain her mother's full time companion and personal secretary. She therefore spent her childhood at Windsor Castle, Balmoral, and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Her father died while on active military service after contracting fever in Africa in 1896. After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Battenbergs moved to London and took up residence in Kensington Palace. During a summer in Osborne, Victoria Eugenie met Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia, a cousin to Nicholas II. The Grand Duke felt attracted to the beautiful English princess and when they met again in Niza in 1905, he proposed marriage to her. She was about to accept but declined at the last moment.


In 1905 King Alfonso XIII of Spain made an official visit to England. Victoria Eugenie's uncle, King Edward VII, hosted a dinner in Buckingham Palace, in honour of the Spanish King. Alfonso sat down between Queen Alexandra and Princess Helena, King Edward's sister. Suddenly he noticed Victoria Eugenie and he asked Princess Helena who was that princess with almost white hair. When she noticed the King's eyes upon her, Victoria Eugenie felt abashed. Everybody knew that King Alfonso was looking for a suitable bride and one of the strongest candidates was Princess Patricia of Connaught, daughter of King Edward's brother, the Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. But now Victoria Eugenie had drawn the King's attention and, as Princess Patricia seemed not to be impressed by the Spanish monarch, Alfonso's interest in Victoria Eugenie grew. So the courtship began and when Alfonso returned to Spain he constantly sent postcards to Victoria Eugenie and was very enthusiastic about her. His widowed mother, Maria Christina of Austria, did not like her son's choice,in part because she considered the Battenbergs non-Royal, because of the obscure origin of Prince Henry's mother, and in part because she wanted her son to marry within her own family, the Habsburgs from Austria. Another reason against the marriage was the religion of the English Princess (Alfonso was Roman Catholic; the English Princess was Anglican). Another reason was haemophilia, the disease that Victoria had transmitted to some of her descendents. Eugenie's brother Leopold was a haemophiliac, so there was a 50% probability that Victoria Eugenie would be a carrier, although the degree of risk was not yet known. Still, if Alfonso married her, their issue could be affected by the disease. However, Alfonso was not dissuaded.

After a year of rumours about which princess the King of Spain would marry, Maria Christina of Austria finally acceded to her son's selection in January 1906 and wrote a letter to Princess Beatrice, Victoria Eugenie's mother, telling her about the love Alfonso felt for her daughter and seeking unofficial contact with King Edward VII. Some days later in Windsor, King Edward congratulated his niece on her future engagement.

Princess Beatrice and her daughter arrived in Biarritz on 22 January and stayed at the Villa Mauriscot where some days later King Alfonso met them. At the Villa Mauriscot, the King and his future bride had a three-day-romance. Then, Alfonso took Victoria Eugenie and her mother to San Sebastian to meet Maria Christina of Austria. On 3 February, the King left San Sebastian to go to Madrid and Victoria Eugenie and her mother went to Versailles where the Princess would be instructed in the Catholic faith; as the future Queen of Spain, she had to change her Anglican religion for the Catholic one. The official reception of Victoria Eugenie into the Catholic faith took place on 5 March 1906 at Miramar Palace in San Sebastian.

The terms of the marriage were settled by two agreements, a public treaty and a private contractual arrangement. The treaty was executed between Spain and the United Kingdom in London on 7 May 1906 by their respective plenipotentiaries, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of St. James's Don Luis Polo de Bernabé, and the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, Bt. Ratifications were exchanged on 23 May following. Among other conditions, the treaty stipulated:

BE it known unto all men by these Present that whereas His Catholic Majesty Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, has judged it proper to announce his intention of contracting a marriage with Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, niece of His Majesty Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, and daughter of Her Royal Highness the Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg)..."Article I." It is concluded and agreed that the marriage between His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII and Her said Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena shall be solemnized in person at Madrid as soon as the same may conveniently be done. "II." His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII engages to secure to Her said Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena from the date of her marriage with His Majesty, and for the whole period of the marriage, an annual grant of 450,000 "pesetas". His said Majesty King Alfonso XIII also engages, if, by the will of Divine Providence, the said Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena should become his widow, to secure to her, from the date of his death, an annual grant of 250,000 "pesetas", unless and until she contracts a second marriage, both these grants having already been voted by the "Cortes". The private settlements to be made on either side in regard to the said marriage will be agreed upon and expressed in a separate Contract, which shall, however, be deemed to form an integral part of the present Treaty..."III." The High Contracting Parties take note of the fact that Her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, according to the due tenor of the law of England, forfeits for ever all hereditary rights of succession to the Crown and Government of Great Britain... [cite web
url =| title = Hoelseth's Royal Corner| accessdate = 2006-11-11| work = Spanish royal family links
publisher = Dag Trygsland Hoelseth
The treaty's reference to the forfeiture of Ena's British succession rights reflected neither the British government's censure of the alliance, nor to any made by her. Rather, it was an explicit recognition of the fact that by marrying a Roman Catholic, Ena lost any right to inherit the British crown as a consequence of Britain's Act of Settlement. This exclusion was personal and limited: those among her descendants who do not become Roman Catholic remain in the line of succession to the British throne.

The treaty did not constitute compliance with the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which requires that descendants of King George II obtain the British sovereign's prior permission to marry by Order-in-Council. While an exception to this requirement exists for descendants of royal daughters that marry "into foreign families", Ena's father had been naturalised a British subject prior to his wedding. Nevertheless, concern about reaction to the marriage among Protestants prompted the British government to avoid having the King consent to the marriage in his Privy Council. This omission would have rendered the marriage void in Britain, but the Government took the position that Ena was not bound by the Royal Marriages Act, apparently relying upon the law's use of the flexible construction "foreign families", since Prince Henry's father had been German and his mother Polish.

Queen of Spain

Victoria Eugenie married King Alfonso at the Royal Monastery of San Geronimo in Madrid on 31 May 1906. Present at the ceremony were her widowed mother as well as her cousins, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary),

After the wedding ceremony, the royal procession was heading back to the Royal Palace when an assassination attempt was made on the King and his new consort (now called "Queen Victoria Eugenia" or, less formally, "Queen Ena"). Anarchist Mateu Morral threw a bomb from a balcony at the royal carriage. Ena's life was saved because, at the exact moment the bomb exploded, she turned her head in order to see St. Mary's Church, which Alfonso was showing her. She escaped injury, although her dress was spotted with the blood of a guard who was riding beside the carriage.

After the inauspicious start to her tenure as Queen of Spain, Ena became isolated from the Spanish people and was unpopular in her new land. Her married life improved when she gave birth to a son and heir to the kingdom, Don Alfonso. However, while the baby prince was being circumcised, the doctors noted that he did not stop bleeding — the first sign that the infant heir had haemophilia. Ena was the obvious source of the condition, which was inherited by her eldest and youngest sons. Contrary to the response of Nicholas II of Russia, whose son and heir by another granddaughter of Queen Victoria was similarly afflicted, Alfonso is alleged never to have forgiven Ena nor to have come to terms with what had happened. In all, King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia had seven children, five sons and two daughters. Neither of their daughters is known to have been a carrier of haemophilia.

After the birth of her children, Ena's relationship with Alfonso deteriorated. Alfonso was suspected of having numerous affairs, including a dalliance with Ena's British-born cousin, the Infanta Beatrice d'Orléans-Borbón.

Ena devoted herself to work for hospitals and services for the poor, as well as to education. She was also involved in the reorganization of the Spanish Red Cross.


The Spanish royal family went into exile on 14 April 1931 after municipal elections brought Republicans to power in most of the major cities, leading to the proclamation of the second Spanish Republic. Alfonso XIII had hoped that his voluntary exile might avert a civil war between the Republicans and the Nationalists. The royal family went to live in France and later Italy. Ena and Alfonso later separated, and she lived partly in England and partly in Switzerland. In 1939, after World War II started, Ena was asked to leave the United Kingdom, as she was no longer a member of the British Royal Family.Fact|date=February 2007 She purchased a chateau, the Vielle Fontaine, outside of Lausanne.

In 1938, the whole family gathered in Rome for the baptism of Don Juan's eldest son, Juan Carlos of Spain. On 15 January 1941, Alfonso XIII, feeling his death was near, transferred his rights to the Spanish crown to his son Don Juan de Borbon, Count of Barcelona. On 12 February, Alfonso suffered a first heart attack. Alfonso died on 28 February 1941.

Ena returned briefly to Spain in February 1968, to stand as godmother at the baptism of her great-grandson, Infante Don Felipe, the son of Infante Don Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón Dos-Sicilias (later King Juan Carlos I of Spain) and Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark (later Queen Sofia).

Later life

Ena died in Lausanne on 15 April 1969, aged 81, exactly 38 years after she had left Spain for exile. She was interred in the church of "Sacré Coeur" in Lausanne. On 25 April 1985, her remains were returned to Spain and reinterred in the Royal Vault in the Escorial, outside Madrid, next to the remains of her husband, Alfonso XIII, and her sons, Infante Don Alfonso, Infante Don Jaime, and Infante Don Gonzalo.

Ena's grandson Juan Carlos is the present King of Spain. She was also the godmother of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, the reigning Prince of Monaco.

Titles and styles

*24 October 1887-3 April 1906Supplement to the "London Gazette", [ 4 April 1906] ] : "Her Serene Highness" Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
*3 April31 May 1906: "Her Royal Highness" Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
*31 May 1906-28 February 1941: "Her Majesty" The Queen of Spain
*28 February 1941-15 April 1969: "Her Majesty" Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain



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boxstyle_2=background-color: #fb9;
boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;
boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;
boxstyle_5=background-color: #9fe;
1= 1. Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
2= 2. Prince Henry of Battenberg
3= 3. Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
4= 4. Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine
5= 5. Julia von Hauke
6= 6. Albert, Prince Consort
7= 7. Victoria of the United Kingdom
8= 8. Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse
9= 9. Princess Wilhelmine of Baden
10= 10. John Maurice von Hauke
11= 11. Sophie la Fontaine
12= 12. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
13= 13. Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
14= 14. Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
15= 15. Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
16= 16. Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse
17= 17. Landgravine Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
18= 18. Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden
19= 19. Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
20= 20. Friedrich Karl Emmanuel von Hauke
21= 21. Maria Salome Schweppenhäuser
22= 22. Franz Leopold la Fontaine
23= 23. Marie-Therese von Kornély
24= 24. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
25= 25. Princess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf
26= 26. Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
27= 27. Duchess Louise Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
28= 28. George III of the United Kingdom
29= 29. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
30= 30. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (= 24)
31= 31. Princess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf (= 25)


*"Queen Victoria Eugénie, Granddaughter of Queen Victoria (Obituary)", "The Times", 16 April 1969, p. 12, column E.
*"Franco at Bourbon Prince's Baptism", "The Times", 9 February 1968, p. 4, column 4.
*cite book|last=Eilers|first=Marlene A.|title=Queen Victoria's Descendants|year=1987|publisher=Atlantic International|location=New York|id=ISBN 0-938311-04-2



* [ - A photographic collection of images of Queen Victoria Eugenia]
* [ - Informations about Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg]


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