Just Who Was Princess Helena Of United Kingdom?

We take a closer look at the life and history of Princess Helena of United Kingdom, the daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Helena Augusta Victoria was born at Buckingham Palace on the 25th of May 1846 to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was fondly referred to with the German nickname Lenchen by her immediate family, and she was known to be an outspoken child. Princess Helena was also passionate about music and drawing. Highly educated by private tutors chosen by her father, she developed interests in science and technology.

Just Who Was Princess Helena Of United Kingdom?
A portrait of Princess Helena Of United Kingdom in 1865 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Helena’s outspoken nature evolved as she grew older. She was an active personality in the charities she represented and was passionate about nursing and wrote letters to magazines and newspapers to that effect. She pursued the promotion of nurse registration, and her royalty status influenced the publicity of nursing associations like the Royal British Nurses’ Association.

Today, she would have been described as an activist, especially one dedicated to women’s rights. She often embarked on campaigns and her persistence in carrying out public duties made her popular among the people. Though she was fiercely devoted to the Queen, her belief in and support of women’s rights was a clash of interest between herself and the Queen, who rather ironically as a female leader, was against such beliefs.

In 1859, Carl Ruland (her Prince Albert’s former librarian), was appointed to the royal house to teach German to Princess Helena’s brother (the Prince of Wales). Not long after his appointment, Princess Helena grew fond of him and got romantically attached to him. This was promptly put to an end by the Queen, who relieved him of his service upon hearing it.

Just Who Was Princess Helena Of United Kingdom?
Princess Helena on her wedding day

The Queen then arranged a marriage between Princess Helena and Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Despite the criticisms and political strains within the royal family over the marriage, the engagement was declared in December 1865, and the wedding ceremony was held on July 5, 1866, at Windsor Castle, in the private chapel.

Princess Helena Of United Kingdom had no protests over the marriage, which further caused strain within the family, as members of the royal household felt the marriage was solely for the Queen’s selfish interest, as she wanted a husband for Helena who would fulfil the Queen’s wish of having the princess Helena live close to her.

Just Who Was Princess Helena Of United Kingdom?
Prince Helena’s husband, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein

Helena engaged herself in many royal responsibilities and groomed her sister Beatrice to do so as well. They were responsible for carrying out royal tasks on behalf of the Queen. Prince Christian and Princess Helena had six children, of which two died early. In the following years, Princess Helena also groomed her daughter Helena Victoria to start assisting in royal duties as well.

Princess Helena Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein (1846-1923), Wife of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; third daughter of Queen Victoria.

Princess Helena Of United Kingdom suffered health issues and was addicted to opium and laudanum. Her health problems varied from hypochondria in 1869, to Severe rheumatism in 1870, to Congestion in her lungs in 1871. Eventually, she travelled to Germany in the 1880s to see an oculist.

She was a recipient of many titles and honours in recognition of her selfless service to many noble causes for women, children, and men. On the 9th of June, 1923, Princess Helena Of United Kingdom died, leaving an enormously impactful and lasting legacy behind her.