L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, four autochromes by Charles Chusseau-Flaviens , circa 1910

Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain (24 October 1887, Balmoral Castle – 15 April 1969, Lausanne), born Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena of Battenberg, Queen Consort of Spain as the wife of King Alfonso XIII. Called by her fourth given name, Ena, by her family and by the British public, she was the second child of Prince Henry of Battenburg and Princess Beatrice, the last-born child of Queen Victoria. Princess Beatrice was her mother's constant companion and personal secretary - the Queen had been extremely reluctant that her daughter should even marry - and Ena and her three brothers grew up in her grandmother's household.

In 1905, the nineteen year old king of Spain made an official visit to England. It was known that he was searching for a suitable bride, and even though there were several strikes against the pretty and blond English princess - her father's un-royal birth, her Protestantism, the strain of haemophilia in her family; one of her three brothers was actually afflicted - the young king would not be dissuaded, and they became engaged. After delicate negotiations between Spain and Great Britain, and with her conversion to Roman Catholicism, they were married 31 May, 1906. A glittering royal gathering attended the festivities in Madrid, but the occasion was marred by an assassination attempt made while the procession was returning to the Royal Palace after the ceremony. From a balcony, an anarchist threw a bomb down at the royal carriage; more than thirty people and several horses were killed, and many more spectators were injured. The royal couple were uninjured, but Ena's wedding dress was spattered with blood, an inauspicious beginning to the marriage and to her life in Spain.

Ena and Alfonso had six children. The first, the heir Alfonso, the Prince of Asturias, and the last, Gonzalo, were both afflicted with haemophilia. Although he had been warned of this possibility, Alfonso never came to terms with the situation, and their marriage quickly deteriorated; the king was also lavishly unfaithful, producing several illegitimate offspring. It was small comfort that she was much lauded for her regal beauty and great style; she was called "the best-dressed queen in Europe". And though Ena worked hard to support charitable institutions, education and, particularly, the Spanish Red Cross, she was never popular in her adopted country. In 1931, as Spain descended into civil war, the royal family went into exile, first in France and then Italy. Ena and Alfonso separated and Ena lived in England before settling in Switzerland; she purchased a chateau, the Vieille Fontaine, outside Lausanne.

Alfonso died in Rome in 1941. Ena returned briefly to Spain - still Franco-controlled, but preparing for a re-establishment of the monarchy - in 1968, to stand as godmother at the baptism of her great-grandson, Infante Felipe, who would become the present crown prince of Spain. She died the following year at the age of eighty-one. In 1985, her remains were returned to Spain and were interred in the Royal Vault of the Escorial, next to those of her husband and three of her sons.


Charles Chusseau-Flaviens (active 1890s - 1910s), French independent photojournalist.   His distribution of other photographer's work for publication created one of the first photo press agencies, but there appears to be no other available biographical information.

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