previous pagenext page
Lafayette L3661b
Neg. Date: 11-11-1902

copyright V&A

Queen Alexandra (1844-1925), consort of King Edward VII, at Sandringham House, Norfolk on 12 November 1902, during the visit of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

Beautiful, distinguished and daughter of the King of Denmark, Alexandra acquired very wide popularity among her British subjects. From an early age she suffered from ever-increasing deafness, which contributed towards her, sometimes vague, manner in public and her preference for a quiet life among family and close friends, one of whom was Daisy, Princess of Pless. Daisy’s second son Lexel (Alexander, Count of Hochberg and Fifth Prince of Pless) was Alexandra’s godson.

Princess Alexandra (later Queen Alexandra) had the sort of beauty which has entered into legend. Almost anyone who met her in person was overwhelmed by an almost mystical reaction to her personality and beauty.

Margot Asquith, an Anglo-Scottish aristocrat and author, wrote of her first meeting: “My heart beat when I looked at her. She had more real beauty, both of line and expression, and more dignity than any one I had ever seen; and I can never forget that first meeting.” She went on to state that it was Queen Alexandra’s grace, both of movement and of gesture, which made her the idol of her people.

The infant Princess Marie of Edinburgh (later Queen Marie of Romania) had an even stronger reaction: “She [Alexandra] came down one day at tea-time in a marvellous red velvet robe with long flowering train. She dazzled me utterly, I was speechless with adoration and my enchantment can be imagined when this velvet-clad apparition, who called herself Aunt Alix, volunteered to come up to the nursery to see us in our bath! There she sat in her glorious crimson gown, and fascinated, I gazed at her over my sponge, spellbound, fearing that the enchanting vision might suddenly fade away.” Even the unyielding Queen Victoria admitted Alexandra’s qualities to a visiting Romanian courtier: “I am gratified to feel secure that, when I am no more, a Queen of England worthy of England's throne will grace it."

Queen Alexandra much appreciated theatricals and loved Daisy’s singing and acting, often asking her to repeat the lines especially for her. Whenever Daisy spent time with Alexandra, an entry in her diary would confirm her deep admiration towards the Queen, who was always described as nice, charming, sweet as ever, and a darling.

After World War I, Daisy finally managed to return to London in 1919. Queen Alexandra who had written to her “I am really so delighted to hear it as I know what you have gone through and suffered during all those five years of awful horrible war and then you were banned from England…” sent for Daisy and “behaved like a mother, a sister and a Queen all in one.”

Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII were not unhappy in their marriage, although he was well known for romantic liaisons with other women, of whom Lillie Langtry, the Countess of Warwick and Alice Keppel were the best known. Daisy’s mother Patsy was also rumoured to have had a relationship with the King. It was remarkable that in late Victorian England with all its prudery and strict morality photographs of the facial and corporeal attributes of some aristocratic and royal ladies were the “pin-ups” of the time. Margot Asquith, Countess of Oxford, noted that “these were the days of the great beauties. London worshipped beauty like the Greeks. Photographs of the Princess of Wales, Mrs. Langtry, Mrs. Cornwallis-West [Daisy’s mother], Mrs. Wheeler and Lady Dudley collected crowds in front of the shop windows.”

The German Emperor’s 1902 visit was a tense time for all. Queen Alexandra had harboured an intense dislike of Prussia ever since the dismemberment of Schleswig-Holstein and William II’s presence and attitude toward his uncle and aunt, the King and Queen, caused much irritation.

The Queen apparently liked this series of stately portraits and when it was published in The Bystander a month after the King’s death in 1910, it carried the caption “A Favourite Portrait.”

A very similar image of the Queen with her beloved pug dog from the same session was reproduced widely in the illustrated press of the time. The version was also published in the early 1900s as a postcard and then later reissued after the death of King Edward – with care taken to obscure almost all of the dog with a plaque bearing “The Queen-Mother’s Message to the Nation”, which started “From the depth of my poor broken heart…”