BULAWAYO MEMORIES

1904 Royal Visit Princess Helena & Princess Christian

Royal Visit Princess Helena and Princess Christian the first Royal visitors to the Victoria Falls on 16 September 1904.

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Princess Helena of the United Kingdom

HRH Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein, fifth child and third daughter of Queen Victoria (after whom the Victoria Falls were named), and Princess Victoria, were the first Royal visitors to the Victoria Falls on 16 September 1904. They were also the first Royal guests to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Percy Clark metions their visit in his autobiography:

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom VA CI GCVO GBE RRC (Helena Augusta Victoria; 25 May 1846 – 9 June 1923) was the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Helena was educated by private tutors chosen by her father and his close friend and adviser, Baron Stockmar. Her childhood was spent with her parents, travelling between a variety of royal residences in Britain. The intimate atmosphere of the royal court came to an end on 14 December 1861, when her father died and her mother entered a period of intense mourning. Afterwards, in the early 1860s, Helena began a flirtation with Prince Albert's German librarian, Carl Ruland. Although the nature of the relationship is largely unknown, Helena's romantic letters to Ruland survive. After the Queen found out in 1863, she dismissed Ruland, who returned to his native Germany. Three years later, on 5 July 1866, Helena married the impoverished Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. The couple remained in Britain, in calling distance of the Queen, who liked to have her daughters nearby. Helena, along with her youngest sister, Princess Beatrice, became the Queen's unofficial secretaries. However, after Queen Victoria's death on 22 January 1901, Helena saw relatively little of her surviving siblings, including King Edward VII.

Helena was the most active member of the royal family, carrying out an extensive programme of royal engagements. She was also an active patron of charities, and was one of the founding members of the British Red Cross. She was founding president of the Royal School of Needlework, and president of the Workhouse Infirmary Nursing Association and the Royal British Nurses' Association. As president of the latter, she was a strong supporter of nurse registration against the advice of Florence Nightingale. In 1916 she became the first member of her family to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary, but her husband died a year later. Helena outlived him by six years, and died aged 77 at Schomberg House on 9 June 1923.


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Helena was born at Buckingham Palace, the official royal residence in London, on 25 May 1846, the day after her mother's 27th birthday. She was the third daughter and fifth child of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert reported to his brother, Ernest II, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, that Helena "came into this world quite blue, but she is quite well now". He added that the Queen "suffered longer and more than the other times and she will have to remain very quiet to recover." Albert and Victoria chose the names Helena Augusta Victoria. The German nickname for Helena was Helenchen, later shortened to Lenchen, the name by which members of the royal family invariably referred to Helena. As the daughter of the sovereign, Helena was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Helena from birth. Helena was baptised on 25 July 1846 at the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. Her godparents were the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Queen's cousin-in-law; the Duchess of Orléans (for whom the Queen's mother the Duchess of Kent stood proxy); and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Helena was a lively and outspoken child, and reacted against brotherly teasing by punching the bully on the nose. Her early talents included drawing. Lady Augusta Stanley, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, commented favourably on the three-year-old Helena's artwork.