When a Princess Came to Town
Although Queen Victoria herself never visited British Columbia’s capital city named for her, one of her four daughters, Princess Louise, (her sixth child,) came to Victoria in September 1882, with her husband, the Marquis of Lorne.
She loved the city so much that she urged her husband to prolong their visit until December. The Marquis at that time was the Governor-General of Canada (1878-1883).
The couple stayed at Cary Castle (now Government House) and the Princess described it as “halfway between heaven and Balmoral.” She apparently also loved to shop along Government Street and said it was a treat to be able to walk around freely without attracting attention. But her presence had indeed attracted attention by many people who stopped to chat with her, saying afterwards she was easily accessible and a delightful person.
Louise’s early life had not been easy. Her mother described her as a “rebellious child” who only loved to draw or paint. Her happiest moments were spent at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight when her father, Prince Albert, was still alive. She loved to play in the garden playhouse her father had built there. Once back in London, she soon realized that life was not always happy. The Crimea War was raging. On one occasion Louise and her mother distributed medals to wounded soldiers at Chatham Hospital and she saw the results of war firsthand.
When her father died in 1861, Louise was only thirteen. The household was plunged into mourning. The Queen made Louise sleep on a couch in her room for many years and she always had to dress in black and was never allowed to attend parties. It was all very sombre for a young girl.
Then in 1864, poor Louise contracted tubercular meningitis and was ill for a year. She was later told she would never be able to have children and the disease left her with terrible migraines for the rest of her life.
Louise later studied at the National Art Training School in South Kensington and was even able to convince her mother to model for her on one rare occasion. When she started to work on women’s rights issues, the Queen decided it was high time to find her a husband and settle down as a respectable wife. Luckily for Louse, around this time, she had met and fallen in love with John Sutherland Campbell, the Marquis of Lorne, a suitable candidate for a princess so they were allowed to marry at Windsor in March of 1871. After the Queen appointed John Campbell as the Governor-General of Canada, the couple went to live in Ottawa.
While on their visit to Victoria, the Princess enjoyed going to the Beacon Hill Fall Fair and visiting all the merchants along Government Street. She also made visits to St. Ann’s Academy and the Jubilee Hospital and left fond memories of her everywhere she went.
The couple reluctantly left Victoria that December and completed their term of five years in Canada as ambassadors for the Queen. Princess Louise then resumed her royal duties in England and was very active in the preparations for her mother’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Princess Louise died at the age of ninety-one and was long remembered as a loving friend to many who benefited from her charitable works.