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These matches soon brought connections to the royal houses in Denmark, Greece and Russia.
Four more of Queen Victoria’s younger children would later marry into German royal houses.
“Fritz” was looking very “manly”, the queen confided to her diary on 15 September, and she found the visit “makes my heart beat…
as it probably will decide the fate of our dear eldest child”.
Vicky’s brilliant marriage to the future Prussian heir aimed at nothing less than to fashion the political development of Prussia-Germany along British lines and then to facilitate an Anglo-German alliance to keep the peace.
The young princess was to nurture the seed of enlightened, liberal thinking on Prussian soil and help steer the new state towards a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
Queen Victoria had long understood the importance of dynastic marital alliances to extend royal influence, and with more than 30 grandchildren growing up in palaces across the continent, it was within her unique power to shape the political landscape of Europe.
(Bettmann/Getty Images) While Vicky’s experiences influenced Queen Victoria’s views on grand foreign alliances, her enthusiasm for matchmaking remained undimmed.
Queen Victoria came to acquire an exclusive status in Europe; she was the great matriarch, the universal ‘mother figure’, her modest 4ft 11ins tall frame somehow growing in stature with Britain’s rising supremacy and known across the continent simply as ‘the queen’.
And as her grandchildren reached maturity, she felt her own union with her beloved Albert took on even greater significance as royal connections could be extended and secured still further.
Her marriage in 1858 was not just a question of her health and happiness, Albert warned.
At stake was “the future of your country and people and thereby, one might almost say, the welfare of Europe”.
After the Napoleonic Wars, British foreign policy aimed to achieve a balance of power in Europe; no single country should become sufficiently dominant to unleash such destruction across the continent ever again.