According to the strict Byzantine rule, Royalty may only mate with Royalty, so that the Blood Royal of Europe shall be kept pure and undefiled, and the generations of experience and training that have gone to the making of sovereigns in posse shall not be wasted. But in our own country, where the marriages of Royal Princes and Princeses are in the hands of the Sovereign, the rule has been relaxed on certain occasions. Queen Victoria gave her consent to the marriage of Princess Louise with the Marquis of Lorne, and, eighteen years later, she further consented to the union of her granddaughter, strangely enough another Princess Louise, to the late Duke of Fife.
Everybody who was privileged to witness the Royal marriage, on July 27, 1889, realised that here was a union not only of hands, but of hearts. Up to the time of her husband's tragic death in Egypt, the Princess Royal led one of the happiest of lives, and the two children that have been born to her personify the charm that has always surrounded her domestic circle. The elder, Princess Alexandra, her late father's heir by special remainder, was born on May 7, 1891, and has already taken her place in the life of the country. Princess Maud, who is two years younger, only appeared formally at Court at the opening of the season which ended the mourning for King Edward VII and ushered in the Coronation of King George V.
A "Jolly" Girl
Princesses do not "come out," and, of course, are not presented, but there is an accepted time in their lives, generally about eighteen, when they are permitted to take their place in society. Princess Maud has brought into the splendid vista that has now opened up before her a personality at once charming and interesting.
Trained in the best of schools, the home, she has from her earliest years been taught that tenderness and consideration which are the graces of womanhood. Nearly all her life the Princess Royal has been more or less an invalid, and Princess Maud has ever been her constant companion.
This gentle discipline, while it has widened her sympathies and her understanding, has neither embittered her nor taken the spring and energy from her youth. Of all the Royal Princesses, she is perhaps what is called in the descriptive language of schoolboys the jolliest. Had fate ordained that she was to have a brother, she would have been his constant companion, the sharer in his sporting adventures and exploits, and, in all probability, a participator in his little outbursts of good-natured mischief.
One of her earliest recorded exploits was a practical joke that she played off on the old white donkey that was employed at Balmoral to draw Queen Victoria's chair. She mixed pepper with its hay, with consequences that were disastrous to the dignity and steadiness of that animal.
She has been, moreover, always a great friend of King George, and our Sailor Monarch loved nothing better than a romp with his charming young niece. It is recorded that on one occasion he was pursuing her so hotly across the lawn at Osborne as to upset Queen Victoria's tea-table, a mischance that resulted in a severe lecture to the two culprits from the Royal and Imperial lady.
Princess Maud is an enthusiastic angler, and one of the greatest moments of her life was when she caught and landed the largest fish that was ever taken on the Deeside. This monster now stands in a glass case in the hall of her Highland home.
Whenever King George has gone north to fish, Princess Maud has always received an invitation to accompany him, and the figure of the bronzed sailor and the charming young Princess are quite familiar on Deeside. Many is the struggle and tussle they have enjoyed together over a salmon that refused to be landed.
One of these little incidents had a very amusing sequel. Princess Maud had hooked a fine fish, and to her urgent cries for assistance King George rushed up. In their common anxiety not to lose their prey, they forgot to notice that the bank was steep and slippery. Just at the culminating moment, when they had the fish safely in the net, they both slipped into the stream. Undeterred by this disaster, they secured their fish before hurrying off to Abergeldie to change their dripping garments. Here, at the moment of their arrival, they were met by King Edward, who was convulsed with laughter at the bedraggled picture his son and granddaughter presented.
In her love of open-air life and athletics, Princess Maud is a true type of Highland girl. She has always been immense friends, partly on this account, with her young cousins, the sons of the King, with whom she liked nothing better than to play cricket or join in other of their field sports. Her particular favourite is said to be Prince Albert, who is just two years younger than herself. On his first return from the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, she was so struck by his sunburnt complexion as to call him " Lobster," a nickname which has stuck to him in the family circle ever since, so it is said.
Princess Maud is a great swimmer, having been accustomed to the water from her earliest days, and is a member of the Bath Club, in Dover Street, London. On several occasions she has employed her skill to teach the King's children, who learnt more readily from this gentle instructress than from their other teachers. There is only one form of open-air exercise to which Princess Maud is not addicted. She does not care for riding, a distaste, it is said, which arose from a fright that she received in childhood.
Her favourite hobby is photography, in which she takes after her grandmother, Queen Alexandra. She is rarely without her camera, and has secured a fine collection of snapshots of members of the Royal Family. Like everything she does, she does this thoroughly, and she will not permit her films or plates to be developed by anyone except herself.
Both at 15, Portman Square, her mother's town house, and at Mar Lodge dark-rooms have been set aside for her, and here, with all the latest inventions and contrivances, she produces her pictures. She also possesses considerable artistic gifts, and her sketches and drawings are considered by those who have seen them to possess no little merit.
Like all our Royal Princesses she has been well educated. She can speak German and French fluently, and has mastered Italian. Her parents have not, however, emphasised too largely the purely book-learning side of education, but have been at pains to instruct her in housewifery and simple domestic duties. Like Queen Mary, she was taught, as a child, to do things for herself, and not to depend upon the efforts of others. Needlework and cookery are accomplishments in which she is superior to many ordinary folk, who are apt to think such matters below their notice.
This training, almost severe in its simplicity, and the healthy, open-air existence that she has lived, have increased the natural gentleness of her character. She has always taken a great interest in her father's tenants, and it has been from no motive of vulgar curiosity, but from a genuine sympathy with their sufferings, that she has accompanied the Princess Royal on her many missions of mercy among the poor.
The ■ sweetness and grace of her manner have endeared her to all those with whom she has come in contact, while her frank common-sense, sometimes expressed in almost boyish words, have frequently been of use in cases where ordinary charity might not have availed.
It was this very boyishness, to the outward expression of which she has now bidden farewell, that used to so please and amuse King Edward. It was known that he was disappointed when it was announced to him that his second grandchild was a girl, but in after years he used to declare that Princess Maud was as good as a boy. When she was twelve years old this statement seemed peculiarly accurate, for there was something about her face which was more reminiscent of boyhood than of girlhood.
What Does the Future Hold in Store?
In appearance, Princess Maud bears a striking resemblance to her aunt, Queen Maud of Norway, after whom she was named, but she is taller, and her face is more animated. Her eyes, which she inherits from her father, are a true index to her character - full of the joy of life, sparkling and vivacious, but with deeper depths in them, in which one can detect the gentleness and tenderness of her nature. She has taken up her position in society at one of the most brilliant periods in the history of the Royal Family, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds in store for this charming young Princess.