by Susan Flantzer
The husband of Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice, Prince Henry of Battenberg (Henry Maurice, German: Heinrich Moritz) was born on October 5, 1858 in Milan, Lombardy–Venetia, Italy. Henry (called Liko) was the fourth of the five children of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine and Countess Julia Hauke. As his parents’ marriage was morganatic, Henry and his siblings took their titles from their mother, who had been created Countess of Battenberg and was later elevated to Princess of Battenberg in 1858. See Unofficial Royalty: Who Are The Battenbergs?
Henry had three brothers and one sister:
- Princess Marie of Battenberg (1852–1923), married Gustav, Count of Erbach-Schönberg, had issue
- Prince Ludwig (Louis) of Battenberg (1854–1921), 1917 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, married Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, had issue including Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (Alice), Queen Louise of Sweden, and the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (scroll down) ; Louis and Victoria are the grandparents of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
- Prince Alexander of Battenberg (1857–1893), 1879 Sovereign Prince of Bulgaria, abdicated 1886, married morganatically Johanna Loisinger, had issue
- Prince Franz Joseph of Battenberg (1861–1924), married Princess Anna of Montenegro, no issue
Henry received a military education and was commissioned a lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of the Rhenish Hussars of the Prussian Army. He also served in the Gardes du Corps, the personal bodyguard of the King of Prussia and, after 1871, of the German Emperor.
In 1884, Henry’s brother Louis married Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, the daughter of Queen Victoria’s third child Alice. Of course, Henry attended the wedding in Darmstadt and so did the bride’s aunt Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, the youngest child of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria had expectations that Beatrice would never marry and remain her personal assistant and secretary. However, during the wedding celebrations, Henry and Beatrice fell in love. When Beatrice told her mother of her desire to marry Henry, Queen Victoria did not speak to Beatrice for seven months. Eventually, the Queen realized that Beatrice would not back down and decided to allow the marriage with several conditions: Henry must renounce his career, nationality, and home and agree to live with Beatrice and the Queen.
On the day before the wedding, Queen Victoria created Henry a Knight of the Garter and granted him the style Royal Highness. This style was in effect only in the United Kingdom, and not in the German Empire, where the Henry was still considered a Serene Highness. Beatrice and Henry were married on July 23, 1885 at Saint Mildred’s Church in Whippingham, Isle of Wight, England near Queen Victoria’s beloved home Osborne House. On the wedding day, a bill passed in the House of Lords making Henry a naturalized British subject. After the wedding, the couple was styled as Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg.
Beatrice and Henry had three sons and one daughter. The Spanish Royal Family descends from their marriage.
- Prince Alexander of Battenberg, later Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke (November 3, 1886 – February 23, 1960), married Lady Irene Denison, had issue
- Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (October 24, 1887 – April 15, 1969), married King Alfonso XIII of Spain, had issue; Victoria Eugenie and Alfonso are the great-grandparents of the current King of Spain, Felipe VI; Victoria Eugenie was Felipe’s godmother.
- Prince Leopold of Battenberg, later Lord Leopold Mountbatten (May 21, 1889 – April 23, 1922), unmarried
- Prince Maurice of Battenberg (October 3, 1891 – October 27, 1914), unmarried, killed in action during World War I
Unfortunately, Beatrice was a hemophilia carrier. Henry and Beatrice’s son Leopold was a hemophiliac and their daughter Victoria Eugenie was a carrier. Leopold died after an emergency operation at Kensington Palace when he was almost 23. Victoria Eugenie, known as Ena, brought hemophilia into the Spanish Royal Family. Two of Ena’s sons had hemophilia. Her son Alfonso died in a car accident at age 31 and her son Gonzalo also died as the result of a car accident at age 20.
Unofficial Royalty: Hemophilia in Queen Victoria’s Family
Beatrice and Henry kept their promise and lived with Queen Victoria and Beatrice remained her full-time confidante and secretary. Henry was often bored by the lack of activity and in an effort to give him more to do, Queen Victoria appointed him Governor of Carisbrooke Castle and Captain-General and Governor of the Isle of Wight in 1889, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army in 1887, Colonel in 1893, and a member of the Privy Council in 1894. In November of 1895, Henry persuaded Queen Victoria to allow him to go to West Africa to fight in the Anglo-Ashanti Wars. Henry arrived in Africa on Christmas Day of 1895. By January 10, 1896, Henry was sick with malaria and it was decided to send him back to England. Henry died aboard the ship HMS Blonde off the coast of Sierra Leone on January 20, 1896 at the age of 37. His funeral took place on February 5, 1896, at St. Mildred’s Church on the Isle of Wight where he had been married. He was interred at St. Mildred’s Church in what became known as the Battenberg Chapel.
San Francisco Call January 23, 1896: Prince Henry of Battenberg Dead
The Inquirer and Commercial News March 13, 1896: Funeral of Prince Henry of Battenberg
Poetry Nook: Funeral of the Late Prince Henry of Battenberg, Poem by William McGonagall
Beatrice survived Henry by 48 years, dying on October 26, 1944 at the age of 87, the last surviving child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was buried with Henry at St. Mildred’s Church.