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Lafayette L3675
Neg. Date: 11-11-1902

copyright V&A

King Edward VII (1841-1910) photographed six months after the Coronation, at Sandringham – a palace in Norfolk, where the British royal family resides traditionally from November until Christmas.

King Edward VII, whose sister was the wife of Emperor Frederick III of Prussia, was thus the uncle of Emperor William II. Daisy, who had known and admired Edward since her childhood, frequently confronted William to change his attitude towards the King, whenever tension arose in British German relations.

Whereas Daisy’s acquaintance with the German Emperor was always within the formal sphere of court etiquette, her relationship with Edward was different: “from my childhood until his death he was my friend.”

Young and full of energy in her new role as Princess of Pless, Daisy travelled constantly between England and Silesia. The annual regatta in Cowes and the visits made by Edward to Newlands (one of her parents’ residences) and a traditional New Year’s Eve party in Chatsworth – a palace owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire – created opportunities to meet the King and Queen Alexandra. The Emperor’s official calls to London and the King’s visits to Berlin provided further contacts.

In February 1909, during a reception at the Hotel Bristol in Berlin, Daisy, while talking to Edward, who as always was smoking a cigar (as in this photograph), witnessed him undergoing a heart attack. She noted in her diary: “Please God, this dear, kind, able Monarch is not in for a serious illness!”

In June the same year the Prince and Princess of Pless, invited by the King to attend the royal horse races at Ascot, stayed at Windsor Castle. In December, the King, while at Eaton Hall as a guest of Daisy’s sister Shelagh, insisted on accompanying Daisy to visit her grandmother in nearby Brynedwyn. Her maternal grandmother, Lady Olivia FitzPatrick, had been once expelled from Queen Victoria’s court, for flirting with his father, as Edward humorously reminded her. “He was a very good-looking man…” confessed an ancient Lady Olivia.

When King Edward VII died in May 1910, Daisy wrote in her diary: “As well as a great King, he was the kindest gentleman and trusted friend”. She had long admired him, and as she looked back on his character years later she wrote disparagingly of the type of “serious” English people who “can never appreciate the fact that a man or woman can love life and gaiety, and yet handle serious things seriously and with great success. Yet in history there are many examples to bear out the truth of this.”

This image is a rare example of the Lafayette Studio’s al fresco work and a series of extant negatives shows that King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and their children and house all posed in a series of outdoor images, including some of the massive house party in front of hay-stacks, to commemorate the visit of Emperor William II and his huge entourage. In this image, King Edward is seen wearing plus-fours and his favourite Homburg style hat.

This photograph was published as the front cover of The Ladies’ Field magazine on 28 March 1903.