Queen Elizabeth II’s State Visit to Germany this week has prompted a look back at her – and Philip’s – German connections. She isn’t the only royal with German roots, however. Several of Queen Victoria’s children married into German royal families and their offspring now reign in other nations. Below, how they’re linked:
Vicky was the headstrong eldest child of Victoria and Albert. She was clever and willing to learn, especially about Albert’s lessons in English government. That was her driving purpose, taught to her by both parents – go to Prussia and create a united Germany based on English principles.
The royal parents married her off to Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia. It was, quite simply, a love match made in heaven. Vicky and Fritz adored each other. Sadly, Vicky’s complicated relationship with her children and her stubborn, pro-English ways made life difficult at the Prussian court. Even worse, her husband died a mere three months into his reign, leaving her a dowager with no real power. His brief time on the throne made Vicky realize that it was “frighteningly possible that Fritz’s reign would represent little more than a mere bridge between two thoroughly Prussian Williams”.  Their son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, would play a part in the fall of his own House of Hohenzollern.
Descent from Vicky: Georg Friedrich Prinz von Preussen; Ex-King Constantine of Greece and his sisters Queen Sofia of Spain and Princess Irene of Greece; King Felipe VI of Spain (through his mother); King Michael of Romania; Ernst August V of Hanover.
This serious, earnest daughter of Victoria married Grand Duke Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, a small duchy within the group of German states. During the Austro-Prussia war, Hesse-Darmstadt sided with Austria; this officially set Princess Alice against her own sister, Vicky, the Crown Princess of Prussia. In the end, the small duchy lost what little territory it had acquired to the ever-growing Prussian state.
Throughout the conflicts, Alice became a skilled nurse. Thanks to her efforts, the region saw a vast improvement to nursing practices and hospital facilities.
Sadly, the princess died of diphtheria, a dangerous illness that had already taken two of her children. Of her surviving children, young Alexandra would be most affected by Alice’s death. Alexandra would carry the emotional baggage into her marriage to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Descent from Alice: The Romanov family of Nicholas and Alexandra; Earl Mountbatten of Burma; HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Maximilian, Margrave of Baden.
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, was passionate about the military. The seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria became a soldier at age 16 and rose to the rank of Field Marshal in 1902.
Like his sister Vicky, Arthur entered into marriage with a Prussian royal, though not as high in rank. Arthur wed Princess Louise (Luise Margrete) of Prussia in 1879, and they had three children. When he was appointed as Governor General of Canada, Arthur and his family settled in the Commonwealth country for the duration of the appointment.
Arthur’s daughter, Princess Margaret, married Gustaf Adolf, Crown Prince of Sweden. Here we see another German link – Gustaf’s mother was Victoria of Baden. It is her tiara that we see on today’s Crown Princess Victoria.
Descent from Arthur: King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden; Prince Bertil of Sweden; Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece
Leopold, Duke of Albany, was the youngest son and eighth child of Queen Victoria. He was sadly a victim of the bleeding disease hemophilia, but Leopold never let it stop him. Though he took precautions to stay safe from injury, he was described as a “strong-willed, attractive character with an immense thirst for life”.  The prince died at age 31 of a brain hemorrhage after accidentally falling down a flight of stairs.
Leopold’s daughter, Alice of Albany, married her second cousin once-removed, Prince Alexander of Teck (the brother of Queen Mary). Leopold’s son, Charles, became controversial in England for his support for Germany during World War I. Worse, he became a member of the Nazi party during World War II.
Beatrice, the youngest of Victoria and Albert’s children, was expected to remain a spinster and tend to her mother’s every wish. The princess’s heart had other ideas, though. Beatrice met and fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. Their marriage the next year was no small miracle, since Victoria was totally opposed to it. She wanted to keep Beatrice to herself, but fortunately consented to the union when Beatrice promised to stay on.
Descent from Beatrice: Former King Juan Carlos of Spain; King Felipe VI of Spain (through his father).
Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are in Germany on a three-day state visit at the request of the government. This royal visit highlights close ties between Britain and Germany. It is to perhaps assuage the German government’s fears over the UK’s impending referendum. This referendum, to be held before the end of 2017, will decide whether the Brits stay in the European Union or if they will say farewell.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have arrived in Germany today for their three-day state visit. This is their seventh visit to the country, and this particular trip will include a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Joachim Gauk, and a historic visit to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp memorial.
This is not the first meeting between the Queen and Merkel. The Chancellor met Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace in February 2014.
“We need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union,” said Merkel, addressing the members of Parliament.
This visit will further serve to underscore the good relationship between Britain and Germany, who wants to keep its ally close. The British government will hold a referendum within the next two-and-a-half years to determine whether they remain within the European Union, and Germany is showing signs that it is worried it may lose its close partner within the bloc.
A Royal Departure
A visit by the Queen is always a thrill, but more so now for Germans because this tour may well be her last foreign trip. In a sense, they get the honor of a “send off ” for the Queen — not to retirement, per se, but to a life much closer to home.
The 89-year-old monarch already bade farewell to traveling to Commonwealth nations because of the extremely long travel time. Her trip to Australia in 2011 to change the succession law was her last long-haul tour.
This is also one more opportunity to visit the land of their ancestors; both Elizabeth and Philip are descendants of Queen Victoria, whose lineage comes from the German House of Hanover, and Prince Albert, who hailed from the German duchy of Coburg.
Despite cattle-calls of mockery over German roots (usually from republicans), Victoria and Albert loved England and the English form of government. They did, however, wish to remain close to Germany – of their nine children, five married into princely or ducal German families.
Though tradition reigns in the House of Windsor, Elizabeth and Philip did not follow the Victorian model for foreign relations. All four of their children married Britons, and it looks like their grandchildren are doing the same.
Countries today no longer rely on royal intermarriages to keep relations cordial, but they still strive to maintain excellent partnerships. This recent visit by the Queen and her husband, along with visits by Prime Ministers past and present, show that Britain is still a major power on the world stage and happy to be in cooperation with all who share her values.
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