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The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter Hardcover – February 19, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After the death of her beloved Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, an only child with a pathological fear of being alone, turned her ninth child, Beatrice, into her permanent companion, infantilizing her and robbing her of any chance of a normal life. The consequences for Beatrice were difficult: as Dennison shows, over the years the spunky young Beatrice turned docile and acquiescent. Some of her siblings resented her proximity to the seat of power. Victoria even determined never to let her companion marry, a vow she abandoned only when Beatrice, at age 27, fell in love with the German Prince Henry of Battenberg, who agreed to abandon his home and career and move in with his wife and mother-in-law. He died 10 years later, in the Ashanti War in Sierra Leone, where he had traveled with British forces in an effort to exert some personal independence. Beatrice mourned, then resumed her duties as her mother's companion. Dennison, a British journalist, does a fine job of laying out facts, but he doesn't spare readers his opinion. Though he's not impressed with Victoria's parenting skills and lack of consideration for Beatrice's emotional well-being, his compassion for his subjects is obvious. That, as much as his detailed portraits, will keep readers engaged. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


 British Praise for The Last Princess


“Beautifully written, its detail meticulous . . . a confident and disarmingly impressive debut.”---The Daily Telegraph


“An engagingly sympathetic, balanced, and intelligent biography.”---The Spectator

“Matthew Dennison has researched assiduously in the Royal Archives at Windsor. He writes well.”---Independent on Sunday


“A colourful peephole into Victorian times, as well as the peculiar ways of royalty.”---The Herald

“Dennison tells a sorry, complex story with tact and sympathy.”---The Times


“This is an old-fashioned biography about an old-fashioned subject.” ---The Guardian


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (February 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376987
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Princess Beatrice gave up her private life, her health and most of her happiness in order to be the secretary, confidante and companion of her widowed mother. Starting with the death of her father, Prince Albert, when she was only four years old, her life was a constant reminder of funereal gloom. As her older sisters married and moved away, Princess Beatrice became the Queen's slave in most matters public and private. Such was the Queen's paranoia that her youngest daughter might grow up and want a life of her own, she forbade all talk of marriage in front of the Princess, and punished the girl by not speaking to her for eight months when she dared to fall in love and announced her wish to wed. The marriage was only allowed to go forward, and the Princess forgiven, when the couple agreed to live with the Queen for their married life, with very limited travel (their honeymoon lasted only five days, and the Queen visited for two of them).

I don't think I'd realized just how selfish Queen Victoria was until I read this meticulously researched volume. Princess Beatrice was a far more forgiving and patient woman than I could have ever been, and I veer between being in awe of her, and pitying her.

Matthew Dennison's writing style takes a while to get used to - sometimes he moves back and forth in eras and you have to go back in order to determine just what time frame he's referring to. The text is at times dangerously close to "scholarly" and for this alone I give the book four stars instead of five. I do recommend it, however, for the insights it gives into this complex, frustrating relationship.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Princess Beatrice was the youngest and least well known of the nine children of Queen Victoria. Born just four years before the death of her father Prince Albert, she did not experience the full rigour of an upbringing and education under her father's control, the only one of the family to escape what seems to modern eyes less raising a child than overwhelming it. Beatrice also seems to have avoided her parents' well known tendency to over criticize and over correct their other children. But Beatrice, as the youngest child, was the one chosen by her incredibly self-centered mother to be an eternal comfort and assistant after Albert's death and the marriage of her siblings. Forced into the role of secretary/confidante (and at times psychologist) to her mother when barely out of her teens, Beatrice developed a personality which was quiet, patient, and undemanding throughout the years during which her peers were getting married and raising families. She seems to have rebelled against her mother only once, when she fell in love with and insisted on marrying Prince Henry of Battenberg, who fortunately was also patient enough to agree to be part of Queen Victoria's household rather than establishing his own independent life. Prince Henry died after a decade of marriage, and Beatrice continued to be Victoria's secretary/companion until the Queen died in 1901. Even then Beatrice was not free from her mother, because she had been given the task of editing/censoring the Queen's journals, a task which took her many years and probably resulted in the loss of much valuable material about Victoria's true thoughts and activities, since Beatrice loyally destroyed the originals after making her copies.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I will not redo the info in the first review. I quite agree with everything in that review. I have always enjoyed reading about Queen Victoria & her era over the years. So I was familiar with some of the information covered. The author does a good job of covering the well known information that Queen Victoria was devoted to Albert. We all know she wrote copiously to her children and grandchildren flung across the globe. It seems like she wrote an especially huge amount to her oldest daughter Vicky, who lived in Germany. In this book, Vicky and her family did not come for the bigger moments in Beatrice's life, like her confirmation or marriage. Which is certainly understandable. It would be a huge undertaking. The author also does a great job of describing how isolated in both age Beatrice was from her sibling and from her peers. Vicky was 17 or 18 years old when Beatrice was born. So literally, her sibling were grown and had their own lives by the time Beatrice was a small child. Beatrice was four years old when Albert died. So, as this book does a great job, her life was overshadowed by the death of her father Prince Albert and by the death of Queen Victoria's mother prior to Albert's death. In this book, we are reminded of how Queen Victoria cloaked herself in grief for literally decades. This book details how different people tried to talk to her and intervene. Crown Princess Vicky and the other sibling every wrote her a group letter, which all signed saying the throne was in danger unless she went into public again. But then as the queen's health declined, they backed out of giving her the letter.

Princess Beatrice has obviously been a neglected, but important part of Queen Victoria's life.
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