This taste for music has been inherited to a certain extent by her only daughter. The Queen of Spain sings and plays charmingly, but has, perhaps, taken more interest in drama than opera. Princess Henry often acted in amateur theatricals at Osborne, and under her mother's tuition, Queen Victoria, as a child, became quite a clever and competent little actress. Once, before an audience composed of the parishioners of Whipping-ham, she, together with her brothers, Prince Alexander and Prince Maurice, performed a musical comedietta entitled " Our Toys." And it is not generally known that, in 1907, Queen Victoria wrote a one-act play in French, which was acted by a group of noble amateurs at the Royal villa at San Sebastian.
"A bonny little girl" was the general description which the worthy people of Whippingham usually applied to Princess Ena in the days when she and her brothers romped and frolicked together. She became immensely popular, and Princess Henry very soon discovered, somewhat to her amusement, that the public at various functions in the
Isle of Wight had almost as warm a welcome for the Princess as for herself. Indeed, Princess Ena was often invited to open bazaars and the like. The " Queen of the Isle of Wight," however, as Princess Henry was called, would not allow this, for she was fully alive to the fact that publicity and excitement are greatly detrimental to a child's health and nature. In fact, until Princess Ena made her debut, when she was eighteen years of age, little was known of her by the general public.
Strictly speaking, she made her first appearance at an infirmary ball in Ryde in January, 1905, and her first formal appearance was at the Court in the following month. Between then and May, when the great social event, the " coming out" ball at Kensington Palace, took place, she attended all the Court functions and dances given in her honour, and at the same time frequently accompanied her mother upon her philanthropic visits to bazaars and hospitals. The ball at Kensington Palace was a magnificent affair, the late King Edward, Queen Alexandra, King George, Queen Mary, and other members of the Royal Family being present.
It was just after this ball that Princess Ena met King Alfonso for the first time. On June 5 his Majesty arrived in London on a visit to King Edward, and it was while making a call at Kensington Palace with members of his suite, before starting upon his round of sight-seeing, that he first saw Princess Ena. They met several times during his short stay in this country, but no announcement was made, although tongues were set wagging after a gala performance at Covent Garden, when it is said that King Alfonso betrayed his secret by his marked attentions to Princess Ena. Indeed, it was a lady in the Royal party at this performance who claims to be the first to proclaim the fact that an engagement was pending between King Alfonso and Princess Ena. And when the Spanish Ambassador took Princess Henry down to tea at a large afternoon party, and it became known that she was being pressed to visit Algeciras in the winter, many rumours were set afloat.
The following January, Princess Henry and her daughter paid a visit to Biarritz, but it was generally understood before that time that Princess Ena and King Alfonso would soon be married. "We are not engaged," Princess Ena is said to have explained to a friend, " but we are going to be married."
All doubts, however, were set at rest by the Biarritz visit. Each day the King would motor over from San Sebastian, and spend every moment driving round the country with the Princess. On one occasion the thirty-eight miles which separate San Sebastian from Biarritz were covered by the King's automobile in eighty minutes. As the King was starting, the inhabitants of the suburb of Antiguo showed the interest they were taking in his wooing by shouts of "Long live the King!" "Long live his fiancee!" And an old sailor added, loud enough to be heard by his Majesty, "It's to-day that the automobile will fly along." "I believe you," replied a beautiful Basque damsel, "on the wings of love." This sally called forth loud cheers, and the King, who heard it all, nodded and smiled.
Apparently a firm believer in the time-honoured maxim, "Happy's the wooing that's not long a-doing," King Alfonso followed Princess Henry and her daughter to the Isle of Wight, and the betrothal was formally announced on March 9. It did not meet with universal approval, mainly on account of the fact that Princess Ena was called upon to change her religion. As a matter of fact, the young Princess's conversion to the Church of Rome had been more than half effected previously, because her fairy godmother, the Empress Eugenie, had been longing for it. Dr. Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, took in hand the preparation necessary for her conversion.
While some people in this country .and abroad opposed the marriage, which was duly celebrated on May 31, 1906, at the Church of San Geronimo, Madrid, it was hailed by the majority as an excellent alliance. In the first place, it was recognised that it was a love match; and in the second, that it would do much to establish that closer understanding which had been desired for many years between Great Britain and Spain.
But the wedding was marred by a terrible tragedy, for the explosion of an assassin's bomb clashed with the sound of wedding-
Hi. M. Queen Victoria of Spain, daughter of Princess Henry of Battenberg and granddaughter of the late Queen Victoria, whose romantic marriage with King Alfonso cemented the friendly alliance between England and Spain
Photo, Chusseau-flaviens bells. As the Royal pair returned from the church to the palace, a bomb was thrown at the carriage, and several soldiers and spectators were killed. The King and Queen escaped, and the coolness and courage they displayed added not a little to their popularity. And when, on May 10, the following year, an heir to the throne, Prince Alfonso, was born, there was much rejoicing and jubilation. The Queen of Spain has two other children, Prince Jaime, born June 23, 1908, and Princess Beatrice, born June 22, 1909. Another son was born a year later, who, however, to the great grief of Queen Victoria, did not survive his birth.
Being always fond of children. Queen Victoria has made an ideal mother. She superintends their care herself, and makes a good deal of their clothing-for needlework constitutes her favourite indoor recreation. And a touch of her characteristic love of fun is betrayed by the fact that when Prince Alfonso was two years of age, she made him a miniature soldier's uniform, which delighted his father.
Not only, however, does Queen Victoria take the keenest interest in the upbringing of her own children, but also in the children of the poor. Some time ago she presented a handsome sum of money to a creche that had been opened at Seville, and she frequently makes various articles of needlework in order that they may be sold at bazaars for fancy prices to benefit children's charities. This is the secret of Queen Victoria's popularity in Spain, popularity which it was feared would never be accorded a foreign princess.