Just Who Was Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom?

We take a closer look at just who Princess Helena of the United Kingdom was, and how her life influenced history.

When people talk about the royal family and the monarchy, you can bet your bottom dollar that Queen Victoria is a name that will be brought up fairly quickly. There have been numerous kings and queens over the years, yet Victoria is certainly considered one of the most influential.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had many children together, including Helena, whom we will be speaking about today.

The third child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Princess Helena is considered by many royal historians to be a princess who was very much overshadowed by her siblings and indeed her peers.

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Princess Helena of the United Kingdom circa 1910

So, who was the real Princess Helena of the United Kingdom? Let’s find out, shall we?

Early Life

Born on the 25th of May, 1846 in Buckingham Palace, London, Helena was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s third child.

Helena’s birth was said to be problematic for the Queen, as it lasted a very long time and when she was born, according to the prince, Helena was ‘quite blue’. Thankfully, both mother and daughter were perfectly fine.

As she grew up, Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom was full of energy and was a child who had a keen interest in arts and crafts. Her daughter’s artistic flair pleased the queen. Despite being clearly very talented when it came to music and art, Helena’s talents would soon be overshadowed by those of her younger sister Louise, whom Victoria began favouring instead.

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Princess Helena (right) with her brother Prince Alfred. Helena was Alfred’s favourite sister. Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

In 1861, aged just 15, Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom sadly lost her father when he died prematurely, aged just 42. Helena was said to be deeply upset over the loss of her father. Her mother relied heavily on her children to perform various royal duties after the death of Albert.

Helena however, was said to be too emotional to take on these responsibilities as she would often burst into tears.

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1865). Currently at the Royal Collection.

Marriage

Because Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom was a middle child, she was unlikely to sit upon the throne and so her prospects of marrying a powerful husband were relatively low.

It was arranged for Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom to marry Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, though this would cause rifts in the family.

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Princess Helena and Prince Christian, part of a series of photographs following their engagement in 1865

Because of political unrest over territories contested by both Denmark and Prussia, Helena’s marriage upset Princess Alexandra of Wales.

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, her husband

Despite this, the marriage went ahead on the 5th of July, 1866, and Helena and the Prince were said to be fairly content in each other’s company.

Helena and the Prince had a low-key life, with Helena taking on the role of housewife and mother.

Charity Work

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Princess Helena in 1910

Helena had always wanted to become a nurse and in the year 1870, she became a founding member of the Ladies Committee of the British Red Cross.

She became a campaigner for women’s rights and a keen charity worker, helping to feed more than 3,000 in the harsh winter of 1886.

In 1901, Queen Victoria passed away and Helena and Christian moved to London and lived a quiet and subdued life. During the Boer War, Helena’s eldest son was killed in action, and her husband Christian passed away in 1917. Helena outlived him by 6 years before passing away in 1923 on the 9th of June. She was 77 and was survived by 3 of her children.

Princess Helena Of The United Kingdom
Princess Helena’s grave at Frogmore (second from left) in the Schleswig-Holstein burial plot

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