|Victoria, Princess Royal, 1855|
This is why I love history. Always have. While into a corker of a good read about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, "We Two" by Gillian Gill, I came across this lovely tidbit.
Despite the fact that France had been England's sworn enemy for eons, Queen Victoria was advised to make nice in 1855 with Napoleon Bonaparte III, a nephew of the first Napoleon who in 1853 had declared himself Emperor of France and was ruling with his beautiful wife, Eugenie. Victoria invited the couple to England for a state visit. They were treated royally. Queen Victoria was reportedly charmed by the charismatic couple. She and Eugenie remained friends till the end of Victoria's life. Fifteen-year-old Vicky, Princess Royal, was smitten by the beautiful Eugenie, and the two became friends as well.
|Empress Eugenie, 1858|
Empress Eugenie was the Jacqueline Kennedy of her day. That's how far reaching and important was her influence. Paris was the undisputed capital of fashion, and Eugenie was on top of the capitol. A Spanish royal, Eugenie had managed to fend off Bonaparte's legendary charms so the only way he could win her was to wed her.
Eugenie sympathized with Princess Vicky's plight that she had no stylish clothes to wear. Even then Britain had a solid reputation for stodgy and the Queen herself had questionable taste in fashion. Before the visit ended, Eugenie had Vicky's measurements taken for a "life-size doll" to be made. Eugenie then sent it from France with a wardrobe of Paris fashions for "the doll" to wear. And Princess Victoria had a lovely wardrobe of the latest styles without ruffling any royal feathers.
Lest you think all this history is just ancient, Eugenie lived until 1920, dying at age 94. Dowager Countess Violet of Downton Abbey might even have known her.