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The Lives and Deaths of the Princesses of Hesse

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781780725222

Price: £22

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A gripping family saga and a portrait of a world in turmoil

The Princesses of Hesse were Queen Victoria’s grandchildren. After the death of their mother, Queen Victoria’s favourite daughter Alice, the Queen stepped in, taking an almost manic interest in the motherless girl’s marriage prospects. Very little went according to plan. Fortunately, Queen Victoria did not live to see her direst fears for the girls spouses being realised. She died in January 1901, just before her beloved Hesse granddaughters became caught up in the maelstrom of early 20th century Europe.

The youngest sister, Alix, married Tsar Nicholas II of Russia; she was assassinated, along with the rest of her family, in a cellar in Ekaterinburg.
The second, Ella, married the Russian Grand Duke Serge. After he was assassinated, she became a nun, only to be assassinated by the Bolsheviks twenty-four hours after Alix in 1918.
The third, Irene, married the Kaiser’s brother, Prince Henry, and was entangled in the 1918 German uprisings.
The eldest sister, Princess Victoria, married Prince Louis Battenberg, and became the mother of Lord Louis Mountbatten and grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Their lives were all dramatic, but this book – the first full-length biography of the Princesses of Hesse – also shows how they interacted as sisters, forever jostling for status and relaying the politics and intrigues that surrounded them.

Drawing on hundreds of previously unseen letters from the sisters as well as from their grandmother Queen Victoria, The Princesses of Hesse takes us on a sweeping journey across the tumultuous landscape of the turn of the century – from the dramas of the Russian Court to the Russian Revolution, and through both World Wars in which they often found themselves on opposing sides.

Both intimate and epic in scope, Frances Welch’s biography sheds new light on the four sisters’ lives, illuminating a remarkable period of history in the process.