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The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's youngest daughter [Hardcover]

Matthew Dennison
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Jan 2007
Beatrice was the last child born to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her father died when she was four and as Matthew Dennison relates Victoria came to depend on her youngest daughter absolutely, but she also demanded from her complete submission. It is an enthralling story, not just of a mother/daughter relationship, but of a Queen and subject relationship. Victoria was not above laying it down regally even with her own children. Beatrice succumbed to her mother's obsessive love, so that by the time she was in her late teens she was her constant companion and running her mother's office, which meant that when Victoria died her daughter became literary executor, a role she conducted with teutonic thoroughness. She edited and bowdlerised her mother's Journal that cover 70 years and where possible her voluminous correspondence. But thank goodness Beatrice inherited some of her mother's more steely qualities. Although Victoria tried to prevent Beatrice even so much as thinking of love, her guard slipped when Beatrice was 29. Perhaps Victoria thought she was over the hill, but Beatrice met Liko, Prince Henry of Battenberg, and fell in love. As Dennison puts it: hers was a 'hard-won victory of love over family prejudice, political relactance and, most significantly, Queen Victoria's opposition.' Sadly, Beatrice inherited from her mother the haemophilia gene, which she passed on to two of her four sons and which her daughter Victoria Eugenia, in marrying Alfonso XIII of Spain, in turn passed on to the Spanish royal family. Beatrice, however, did not end up simply as a wife and mother. She loved music and composed a military march which remains in the repertoire of British regimental bands, she sang and she painted. Dennison sums up: 'she was an essential component in the smooth-running of Victoria's queenship. This new exmaination will restore her to her proper prominence -as Queen Victoria's second consort.'

Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; hardcover edition (4 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297847945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297847946
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 15.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Matthew Dennison has written Beatrice's biography as though it was a novel, which must be the best way to treat a life which was so much more a matter of feeling than incident. This is an engaglingly sympathetic, balanced and intelligent biography which trimphantly succeeds in bringing to live the princess who, ever since the age of four, has been in the shadow of her mother." (JANE RIDLEY THE SPECTATOR )

"An engrossing biography of Queen Victoria's youngest daughter that focuses on her relationship with her wilful mother. Beautifully written." (TATLER )

"Dennison emerges as a natural storyteller, succeeding in the difficult task of turning a relatively uneventful, acquiescent life into a hugely satisfying biography. The Last Princess is emotionally sympathetic and beautifully written, its detail meticulous... a confident and disarmingly impressive debut" (KATE COLQUHOUN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH )

'This is an old fashioned biography about an old-fashioned subject. At a time when non-fiction writers are desperately thinking up fancy new ways to tell stories, theres something rather comforting about a narrative that has no embarassment in starting at the beginning.' (KATHRYN HUGHES THE GUARDIAN )

"It is an enthralling story, not just of a mother-daughter relationship but that of a monarch and her favourite subject." (MAJESTY MAGAZINE - BOOK OF THE MONTH )

"the fascinating and somewhat asphyxiating relationship between the Queen and her daughter Beatrice." (VOGUE )

Kathryn Hughes in THE GUARDIAN: 'This is an old fashioned biography about an old-fashioned subject. At a time when non-fiction writers are desperately thinking up fancy new ways to tell stories, there's something rather comforting about a narrative that has no embarassment in starting at the beginning.' JANE RIDLEY THE SPECTATOR: "Matthew Dennison has written Beatrice's biography as though it was a novel, which must be the best way to treat a life which was so much more a matter of feeling.' (MIRANDA SEYMOUR SUNDAY TIMES )

"Matthew Dennison has researched assiduously in the Royal Archives at Windsor. He writes well." (MARK BOSTRIDGE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY )

'Dennison tells a sorry, complex story with tact and sympathy' (THE TIMES )

"Matthew Dennison paints a sympathetic portrait of a rather lonely child who eventually found love and fought for the right to marry the man she loved while never leaving her mother." (BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE )

"A colourful peephole into Victorian times, as well as the peculiar ways of royalty." (THE HERALD )

"leaves no psychological stone unturned" (MAIL ON SUNDAY )

'Dennison's biography is an engrossing tale of a mother and daughter who were also a queen and her subject.' (THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE )

Book Description

Queen Victoria's favourite child - the true story of a royal mother-daughter relationship that changed history --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was Anyone Ever This Selfless? 19 Aug 2008
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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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
HRH The Princess Beatrice was the youngest daughter and child of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort and the last of their children of die. She was married to Prince Henry of Battenberg and mother of four children: one of them Ena became Queen of Spain (the present Spanish King's grandmother). Her real historical significance however lies in the editing of Queen Victoria's journal.

Beatrice spends most of her life in the shadow of the Queen, during the Queen's lifetime but as well after her death. More than any other of the Queen's children Beatrice was absolutely dominated by her mother. This biography is therefore as well a biography on Queen Victoria and a mother-daughter relationship. Matthew Dennison delivers quite a psychological portrait of Beatrice - the effects on her by her mother's domineering and quite selfish behaviour. Therefore, it might be just that why during the book not very much emerges about Princess Beatrice herself. To a certain extend she remains a personality very difficult to grab and I suppose that is what she exactly was. There is an element of pity one feels for her. Matthew Dennison is not abstaining from criticism, especially as the does not have been a very good mother, putting her mother always first, even before her own children. The book is anyway very weak on the relationship of The Princess with her children. Her eldest son Drino Lord Carisbrooke who was pompous and effeminate or as diarist James Lees-Milne put it "really and old queen" and of whom the PoW said in 1919 "I hear that Irene Carisbrooke is great with child and Drino has retired to bed for the duration". Hardly any words on granddaughter Iris, who married for the first time in 1941 and therefore during Princess Beatrice`s lifetime.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable 8 April 2007
By Kitten
I enjoyed reading this book very much, though I don't think I learned much that was new about the Princess. Like most biographies of Queen Victoria's children, the bulk of the book was about the princess's life when her mother was alive. I wanted to know much, much more about the period after the Queen's death. Certain areas , of course, are touched on, for example the death of the Prince Maurice in action in 1914, and also of the marriage of the Princess Ena to the king of Spain, but I would have liked more detail about the final years. Maybe there's no documentation to hand?? I would recommend this book though - one of the better royal books of recent years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As another reviewer has said, this edition does not include the listed illustrations which slightly spoils an otherwise excellent biography. If I had known I would have been willing to pay extra for a book with illustrations. I have only awarded 4 stars therefore
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book great but 6 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Book great but this version of it was completely missing the pictures/photos that were listed at the start of the book.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Princess Beatrice 17 Oct 2007
I really enjoyed this book. Beatrice, although the youngest and, to some contemporary views, of the least dynastic importance, certainly played the most important role to the Queen of all her children.

The book is easy to read yet does not gloss over the facts. It is honest and frank, although I would have liked to know more about the sometimes strained relationship she shared with her sister Louise. What I particularly enjoy about biographies about Queen Victoria's children is that it opens up a whole new facet of her character, as it is true to say that her relationship with each one was so remarkably different. Beatrice's biography gives excellent examples of the best and the worst of Victoria's personality traits. It also gives excellent background information for anyone wishing to read further about Beatrice's daughter Victoria-Eugenie, who became Queen of Spain.

In short I thoroughly recommend this book. Enjoy!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely readable
I read the book through and found it reasonable y interesting. One also gets a good impression of the persons concerned. Read more
Published 8 months ago by veramills
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Bought as a gift for my sistere, I was very happy with this book. Well presented and written, any fans of biographical history will be extremely satisfied.
Published 11 months ago by susiesmith
5.0 out of 5 stars Beatrice
The Last Princess as a lover of the history of our Royal Family i loved this book about Princess Beatrice it is well written
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. Noreen Walton
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written and informative
A great read for those fascinated by queen Victoria and her family. The content and detail is brilliant. Read more
Published 17 months ago by funkybookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history
taking you into the royal families of Europe as well as the UK. I can remember some of the characters, such as Princess Alice of Athlone.
Published 18 months ago by chet
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle review
This was a great book, spoilt only by not being able to view pictures properly with the kindle.
Perhaps I should choose more carefully in future.
Published on 23 Jun 2012 by shells
5.0 out of 5 stars Princess Beatrice - Victoria's 'Baby'
This wonderful biography of Princess Beatrice, Victoria's youngest child, covers every aspect of her life. Read more
Published on 1 May 2012 by Gearodin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Princess
Great purchase really pleased with it and arrived in excellent condition and speedy. Very informative historically and a fascinating read of a very important royal era in history.
Published on 3 Mar 2012 by northwich
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
A very informative and enjoyable book. It touched on areas of information that I hadn't come across before and helped me to see the woman that Princess Beatrice was. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2011 by anna
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
Recommended - a good read and very interesting about the life of Princess Beatrice. Not only does it shed light on the princess but also on Queen Victoria and her character. Read more
Published on 9 July 2011 by Aligirlbear
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