Dear readers, tonight we are hosting a royal couple, the Princess Royal of UK and the future emperor Prince of Prussia. Known as Vicky and Fritz, they are here to tell us about life and love across 19th century European courts.
In tonight’s double interview we separately ask Fritz and Vicky, who are husband and wife, mostly the same questions — but they can’t see or hear each other’s responses.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Vicky: Dear Windsor is the home of my heart, and though Buckingham Palace is where I was born and lived a good deal of my earliest years, Windsor is where my happiest childhood memories live and is where we spent our honeymoon. My memories there of my childhood are among the happiest of my life – but happy in a different way than my life with Fritz – all my dear siblings and Mama and Papa were always there. Buckingham Palace is not a Home – it is a Palace, and is not very welcoming to little people.
Fritz: The Neues Palais was where I was born. It was a huge place, but I only knew a very small portion of it – the nursery – and my parents moved to Babelsberg before I remember very much. Babelsberg is a pretty place – but not… it was my home, but I didn’t love it.
What are your happiest memories of your childhood?
Vicky: My dear parents birthdays were always wonderful affairs in my eyes, with all of us children waiting outside the door with our drawings and things, and Mama in a pretty new dress when she came out, and Papa welcoming us all so lovingly. The Great Exhibition was one of the grandest events and is, of course, one of the dearest memories looking back, when Fritz was there and was always so kind. Papa’s loving advice during our lessons, which I treasured up and remember so well now…
Fritz: Happy memories? *sigh* My least unhappy memory of my early childhood was… perhaps Lotte’s birthday parties. I was always allowed to go to them and she was always kind to me, as was the Queen, Aunt Elise, who’s ward Lotte was. Later, our time in Mainz was not particularly unhappy, but… my childhood was not a happy one, I always wished myself out of the world. *Sighs and looks away.* I… I still have such thoughts, at times, when I am away from home – away from Vicky…
You are the Crown Prince and Crown Princess now. What does that mean for you? How does that change your life?
Vicky: Fritz’s being the Crown Prince means he has more duties, which he fulfills faithfully. We shall be the next King and Queen, some day, and perhaps, Emperor and Empress. We work steadily towards the dream of bringing into existence a peacefully united Germany. But it means we often have less time together, which of course is not particularly pleasing.
Fritz: Since I have become Crown Prince, I am required to be present at the Crown Councils. One might think this is an honor, and it is, but… to be a witness to some of the things which go on is unendurable. And Papa requires me never to speak at the Councils, so I am not a part of it, only a tacit witness they think they can control.
Vicky, what did you first think when you went to Berlin? And when you arrived at the Berlin Schloss?
I had always had great ideals for Germany and the Germans, dear Papa’s ideals, and I somehow thought more people at the court would share these ideals. I have already come to see that that was only a dream, and that those who hold power have no wish for peacefulness.
The Berlin Schloss was a shock. The dirtiness, with no cupboards for my clothes, no bathrooms, no running water… no passageways so that people had to pass through our rooms… Fritz, being accustomed to the life there, never thought to tell me how it really was. But why would he, when he had been accustomed to it all his life? And to even less, living in the barracks as he had for so many years.
Fritz, what did you first think when you went to London? And when you arrived at the Great Exhibition?
London was a wonder to me, with so many sights to see, the museums and places to go seemed endless. A tour of Berlin can be finished in 2 days. And the Great Exhibition! The Crystal Palace! How can this great glass structure remain standing with so many thousands of people coming and going every day? But my dearest memory, what made the greatest impression, was my dear little hostess, showing me about, telling everything about… everything, and being her own sweet self.
What is your greatest fear? What is the worst thing which has happened to you? What is the worst thing which could happen to you?
Vicky: I never thought I had very many fears before I came to Berlin. I looked life fearlessly in the face, but I have learned otherwise. I have a very great fear of when Fritz must eventually go to war, which seems inevitable.
The worst thing which has happened to me is being trapped in the laundry with Prince Charles. The terror and shame of that situation is indescribable.
Fritz: My greatest fear was to see Vicky suffer, and to feel I was responsible for her suffering, as I brought her here. This has happened. The terrible pain she went through tore my heart apart, even before we believed she and the baby were dead. And then there is what she suffered at Onkel Karl’s hands I… I didn’t want to bring her here to suffer.
My own greatest fear for myself… to be drawn under Onkel Karl’s spell, or have Vicky be, and we not know it; and to go to war. The idea of war is such a horror, to think of being there to kill and maim and make pain and suffering…
What is the worst thing about your life in Berlin?
Vicky: Prince Charles and his persecution of all we love and value. The web of hypnotism he has created so that we never know who we can trust.
Fritz: Prince Charles’s persecution of Vicky and his manipulation of my parents so that I have never been able to be particularly close to them… being forced to do things which go against my conscience and to witness my father having the same thing done to him.
What is the best thing about it?
Vicky: Fritz. *smile* Life in Berlin without him would be a misery.
Fritz: Vicky is the great happiness of my life where ever I am. I longed to have my own home before we were married, but a Prince had to marry to have his own palaces. I hated living in the barracks.
What is the worst thing about your life in England?
Vicky: Saying goodbye.
Fritz: Leaving the wonderful atmosphere of affection and appreciation which surrounds us there.
What is the best thing about it?
Vicky: Being with my dear family and in my dear old home. Britannia rules the waves! I can never give up being an Englishwoman.
Fritz: The atmosphere I mentioned before. Vicky’s family are like no one else I know.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Vicky: Dear Papa and my sister Alice was my best friends of my childhood. Papa was always such a kind, patient teacher besides the best father imaginable. I had many dear friends in Mama’s household, Mary Buteel, Emily Villiers, and many others. In Prussia I have not had the good fortune to make so many close friends, and we must be very cautious, so it is rather difficult. Fritz Karl’s wife Marianne is my dearest friend in the family here.
Fritz: My cousin Lotte was my closest friend in the family when I was young. Her death was very, very hard. *Looking down and biting his lip* Fritz Holstein and his brother Christian were my very good friends at Bonn and their friendship has continued to be very dear. Karl Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is another close friend.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Vicky: I hate to see evil invade our lives when we strive so hard to lift Prussia up to be a righteous leader for Germany.
Fritz: I like to believe I hate no one. “Love your enemies.” But I have certainly never loved Onkel Karl or his son, Fritz Karl, and they have never given me the opportunity to do so. I would say they hate me and wish me to hate them.
What are your favorite activities? What do you love doing?
Vicky: I love mathematics, chemistry, physics, painting, reading… One ought to be always learning and growing, and not letting one’s intelligence drop off to sleep. I love riding and gardening, too… If I hadn’t been a Princess I would perhaps have been an architect’s assistant… a landscape gardener, or something of that sort. And a landscape painter.
I love spending time with my family, and long to have more time for the little details of the nursery, which I have always loved. Papa always called me the “little mother”, I always loved to look after my little brothers and sisters, and am so thankful Beatrice does know me as much as she does.
Fritz: I like reading, though I am not a fast enough reader to suit Mama’s expectations. The art galleries fascinate me, as does Vicky’s artwork. I always wished I had received the training my cousin Abbat did, as the King’s ward, but Papa never encouraged artistic inclinations or intellectualism. Mama thinks I am far behind what I ought to be. As a child I found study slow and difficult, but I loved it, and preferred it to what many others seemed to expect a young Prince to enjoy.
So, Fritz, you don’t like going to parties and theaters and the other things young Princes are expected to enjoy? And you never – hmm… “sown any wild oats”?
Certainly not! *shudder* I’m not like my Onkel Karl. I like to go to the theater when it is an interesting play, and is put on properly, but the Cancan and other such things are what is often encored here, which is revolting.
What does the future hold for you?
Vicky: Life without… but I will not speak of that, it is too sad. We shall have a new little one to love, and there is the prospect of travel, seeing Italy and the beauties there which Fritz longs to share with me. Hopefully the future does not hold Bismarck…
Fritz: Italy. I have seen Italy before, but to go there with Vicky will be a dream… O! Dolce Napoli… Venice! Venice, the fair city of my heart… to float together in a gondola by moonlight will be like a beautiful dream…
Luv Lubker has been researching Queen Victoria’s family and the Victorian Era for years. She has been teaching herself German while she lives in Texas, and enjoying spending time with her family, making and eating delicious raw food, and riding her bike.
You can find Vicky and Fritz on the pages of Under His Spell (only available through the author’s site).
Join us next week to meet a grad student fighting Chernobog’s demonic beasts. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.