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Princess Victoria (1840–1901)

Born in 1840, Princess Victoria was the eldest of Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Prince Albert’s (1819–61) nine children. The Princess, known among family members as 'Vicky’ was given the title Princess Royal in 1841. From a young age, the Princess Royal showed a talent for art and languages and a strong intellect and desire to learn.

In 1855, the 14-year-old Princess Victoria became engaged to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (1831–88) and married him three years later. The couple had met at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Although arranged, the couple had a happy marriage based on shared values and liberal ideals.

Vicky was a skilled artist and sculptor and held a great interest in visual art. She regularly corresponded with her father about art and exhibitions, including her own creations. In her adopted home of Germany, she was an active patron of the arts, including patron of the International Amateur Photographic Exhibition. Following Prince Albert’s death, Princess Victoria played a significant role in organising and advising on artists and designs for monuments and memorials to her late father. She was also involved with the Raphael Collection. On 2 March 1863 Queen Victoria wrote in her journal:

On coming in went to the Library to the print Room & looked through 2 portfolios of dearest Albert's favourite Raphaels. Dear good Vicky is quite her dear father's self with regard to art & it is a real satisfaction to look at these wonderful treasures with her.

Queen Victoria's Journal, RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) 2 March 1863 (Princess Beatrice's copies)

In 1888, Vicky's husband Prince Frederick became Emperor of Prussia, and Princess Victoria was recognised as Empress of Germany, commonly known as ‘Empress Frederick’. Frederick reigned for a mere 99 days before his premature death in June 1888.

Whilst considered Albert’s favourite, Princess Victoria was close to both of her parents and maintained a regular and lengthy correspondence with Queen Victoria from her wedding in 1858 until her death in 1901, the same year as her mother.