Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Special needs in the Royal Family

The descendants of Queen Victoria have numbered a few with special needs. The conditions range from the best know--hemophilia, to Down's Syndrome, Intellectual Development Disorders, to deafness and other conditions.

The "Grandmother of Europe" left a legacy unlike that of any other monarch--Hemophilia--the disease that is fully manageable today that keeps blog from clotting. Alexei, the last Tsaravitch of Russia, is the best known of these.

 Note: unless otherwise noted, all images are in the public domain.

Victoria's second daughter, Alice, was a carrier of hemophilia.

Her son, Prince Friedrich of Hesse was a hemophiliac who died after falling from a window as a toddler. This family would suffer more tragedy, losing Alice and her daughter, Marie, within days of each other from diptheria.

public domain
Alexei Nikolaevich was assassinated with his family at Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918. Alexei was the grandson of Queen Victoria's daughter Alice.

Alice's grandson, Prince Heinrich of Prussia (also the nephew of Kaiser Wilhelm), died after a fall when he was just four years old thanks to his hemophilia.

Heinrich's big brother, Prince Waldemar of Prussia, lived into his 50s but died at the end of World War II for want of a transfusion. Like Leopold of Battenberg, he was shown in uniform during World War I.

Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold, was the first of the royal hemophiliacs. He lived long enough to marry and father two children--one of whom was born after his death. His daughter, Princess Alice of Albany, passed the hemophilia gene on to son, Rupert, and possibly to her son Maurice who died in infancy.

Prince Rupert of Teck was a grandson of the first hemophiliac, Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold. He apparently was able to attend Eton and went with his parents, the Earl and Countess of Athlone (formerly Princess Alice of Albany and Prince Alexander of Teck) to South Africa. He bled to death after an automobile accident. (His father was Queen Mary's brother.)

Princess Beatrice (Princess Henry of Battenberg after her marriage) was Victoria's youngest child and the one she kept at home. Her children grew up in Victoria's household, as the family moved with the Queen in her seasonal migration from Osborne on the Isle of Wight, to Windsor, to Balmoral, etc.

Beatrice's son, Prince Leopold of Battenberg (after World War I he was known as Lord Leopold Mountbatten) as a hemophiliac. Leopold was shown in uniform during World War I but was a hemophiliac. He died during an operation in his early 20s.

 Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, was heir to his father King Alfonso the XIII of Spain and was a grandson of Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice.(His parents famously survived an assassination attempt on their wedding day.)  He fared better than most hemophiliacs of his time, living to age 31. He, too, died from a car accident.

Alfonso's younger brother, Gonzalo, was also a hemophiliac. Gonzalo lived to his late 20s. He died from internal bleeding following a car accident. He and Alfonso were put into special padded suits to protect them when they played outside.


Prince Albert Victor, son of King Edward VII, may have been deaf like his mother Queen Alexandra, but functioned well enough to deal with the Army.

Princess Alice of Battenberg, seen here with her son Prince Philip, was the name-sake granddaughter of Victoria's daughter Alice, thru her daughter Victoria of Hesse. She was congenitally deaf, but learned to speak and to lip read in several languages.

Princess Beatrice's grandson, Prince Jaime of Spain, was deaf following mastoiditis and surgery. This also made his speech difficult to understand.

Down's Syndrome and Intellectual Development Disorders

King George V and Queen Mary's youngest child, Prince John, is best know as an epileptic and as the subject of the television show "The Lost Prince." He had some form of intellectual development, though given the times he lived in not much could have been done to aid him. (It is important to remember that the "Lost Prince" is merely "based" on his life--there is no evidence, for example, that John ever mastered playing the coronet as was show in the program, though there is a good deal of evidence that he did enjoy gardening like his two eldest brothers, Edward VIII and George VI did.

Lady Tatiana Mountbatten was a great-great granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a first cousin to Prince Philip. She was intellectually disabled and lived for many years in an institution, but was visited by her brother and her  brother's children throughout her life. As a child she participated in normal family activities. Her brother, David (in the sailor suit) was best man to Prince Philip in that royal wedding.

[Many readers will now search for the two Bowes-Lyon cousin's of Queen Elizabeth who were famously institutionalized and written out of Burke's Peerage. They are not descendants of Queen Victoria and so are not profiled here.]

The German decscendants of Queen Victoria include the only known royal with Down Syndrome. Princess Alexandrine of Prussia, a granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm, lived at home and was frequently photographed. She died in 1980.

1 comment:

Susan said...

How interesting! I never knew there were so many royals with hemophilia. I know from researching Bavaria's Ludwig that there was a lot of insanity in that royal family -- although much of it was due to all the close intermarriages.