A royal engagement

R. Stanton Avery Special Collections

Today’s announcement of the engagement of Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales and Ms. Rachel Meghan Markle reminds me of an interesting genealogical tree that recently entered the Society’s collection. Bought by D. Brenton Simons from an antiquarian book dealer in the United Kingdom, it is a print from the 1900 edition of Mrs. Oliphant’s Queen Victoria: A Personal Sketch.[1]

A simpler version of the royal family tree published for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the print treats the Queen (but not her late husband, Prince Albert, who had died as long ago as 1861) as the trunk of the tree, with her eldest children as the most established branches. Rather than use dates of death, the tree’s artist has chosen to treat some of the Queen’s deceased children as living (Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, had died in 1878, and Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1884), and some of her late grandchildren, who died unmarried, are shown as cut branches.

A simpler version of the royal family tree published for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the print treats the Queen … as the trunk of the tree.

By 1900, the year before Queen Victoria’s death, her family included the German Emperor and his sister the Crown Princess of Greece; George, Duke of York (later King George V), and Princess Charles of Denmark (the future Queen Maud of Norway); the Grand Duke of Hesse and his sisters Princess Louis of Battenberg, Grand Duchess Serge of Russia, and (confusingly) Empress Alexandra of Russia, married to Grand Duke Serge’s nephew; the Crown Princess of Romania; Princess Margaret of Connaught (the future Crown Princess of Sweden); the current Duke of Albany, who would succeed his uncle as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in July 1900; and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, the future Queen of Spain.

Prince Harry of Wales is descended from Queen Victoria and two of her children: “Alb. Ed. P. of Wales,” later King Edward VII, and the late “Alice, Gr. Duss of Hesse.” The chart shows the next two generations as well: “George D. of York” and his second son, Prince Albert (the future King George VI), and “Victoria (Pss Louis of Battenberg),” and her daughter, “Vic. Alice,” who would marry Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1903.

King George I of Greece (1845-1913) by Disdéri. Author’s collection

Prince Harry is also descended from King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark, the parents of “Alexandra of Denmark” (wife of the future King Edward VII) and King George I of Greece, the father of Prince Andrew of Greece and (as a junior member of the royal house of) Denmark. This carte de visite, by Disdéri of Paris and London, is interesting in showing how much Prince Harry’s grandfather – born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, the son of Prince Andrew and of Princess Alice of Battenberg – resembles his grandfather, King George I.

The marriage of Prince Harry’s grandparents, Princess Elizabeth (today’s Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Philip, since 1947 Duke of Edinburgh, is by no means the only marriage between descendants of Queen Victoria (or King Christian IX), but it has certainly been a success, as suggested by the fact that the royal pair celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary on 20 November.


[1] Margaret Oliphant Wilson (1828–1897) married her cousin Frank Oliphant in 1852.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

5 thoughts on “A royal engagement

  1. Interesting you should post this today as, just yesterday, I was looking over an old letter I recently found in my family’s papers a letter from a gentleman named “W. Lake Onslow,” who was a chaplain in ordinary to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales that was written to my 2nd great-grandfather. It is dated from 1872 so I wonder if it would have been “Alb. Edward P. of Wales.” It seems that my 2 times great-grandfather had invited him to some kind of lecture (he was a notable and controversial clergyman in Ireland) and W. Lake Onslow wrote the note on the Prince’s behalf, declining the invitation for reasons of his health. I have no idea if this is worth anything but I am curious as to ~who/m~ my 2nd g-gf was extending his invitation.

  2. Rereading this post, I feel I should probably point out just how many marriages between descendants of Queen Victoria and King Christian IX are covered here: the Crown Prince of Greece, Prince Charles of Denmark, and Tsar Nicholas II — along with George, Duke of York, and Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark — were all grandchildren of Christian IX. The marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip is a double marriage, as both descend from Queen Victoria and from King Christian.

  3. So, when do we get to see Gary, et. al.’s work on Ms Merkle? A special teaser in The Weekly Genealogist, followed by an American Ancestors article?

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