Lorne Close, NW8

Place Name

Originally Lorne Gardens until the building and expansion of Marylebone Station. Louisa Caroline Alberta Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (March 18, 1848 – December 3, 1939) was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and was probably the most intelligent and unconventional of all the Monarch’s children. Following her marriage she became the Marchioness of Lorne and in 1900 the Duchess of Argyll when her husband, John Campbell, succeeded to the dukedom. Born at Buckingham Palace, she was named Louise after the Prince Consort’s step-grandmother, who had died a few days before her birth. According to The Times she was like all the Royal children “subjected to a rather severe and spartan training both of mind and body” but “her quick wits and artistic gifts made her a special favourite with her father”. As a teenager she showed a talent for sculpting, a passion she retained throughout her life, producing several major works, including a memorial to Colonial Soldiers which was placed in St Paul’s Cathedral after the South African War. By the time she was 21 the subject of her marriage arose. While her older sister, now the Crown Princess of Prussia, urged for her to consider a Prussian Prince, Louise was determined to remain in England. And so, with the Queen’s backing, married the Marquess of Lorne, eldest son of the Duke of Argyll, in Scotland in the autumn of 1870. It was later revealed that the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII) was against the union but Victoria wrote telling him of the unpopularity of marriage between English Royalty and “German Beggars,” and her confidence that “new blood will strengthen the Throne morally as well as physically.” It was a decision backed by the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, a friend of Lorne. He wrote to her: “What is about to happen seems to him as wise as it is romantic. Your Majesty has decided with deep discrimination that the time was ripe for terminating an etiquette which has become sterile and the change will be affected under every circumstance that can command the sympathy of the country.” Adding: “The gentleness of his disposition and the goodness of his temper are impressed upon his countenance, which; while it is bright with cultivated intelligence, could not, he feels sure, express an evil passion… Though, your Majesty must at first inevitably feel the absence of the Princess from the accustomed scene, the pang will soften under the recollection that she is near you, and by the spell of frequent intercourse. You will miss her Madam, like the stars: that return in their constant season, and with all their brightness. Certainly no better choice could have been found than that of Lord Lorne, who had a great territorial position, a broadly cultured mind, and a capacity for affairs.” It was the first time since 1515 that a member of the Royal Family had married one of the Sovereign’s subjects with their blessing. In 1878 her husband was appointed Governor General of Canada and during their five years the Princess became an expert with skates and toboggans and a keen fisherwoman. Her husband died in 1914. The Princess continued with her own interests and took an active part in Kensington becoming the first honorary freeman of the Royal Borough. Almost her last appearance in public was when she was present at Kensington Town Hall to welcome King George V and Queen Mary at the time of the Silver Jubilee. Politically she was a liberal, perhaps even a little bit radical. She was also a supporter of the feminist movement, corresponding with Josephine Butler, and visiting Elizabeth Garrett, the first British woman openly to qualify as a physician. And, unlike her husband, was in favour of Irish Home Rule. She died at Kensington Palace.

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