Princess Louise Marries a Commoner

c859b2290db4f763cf0476aea9fa2912.jpg In March 1871, Princess Louise Carolina Alberta, fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria married John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Marquis of Lorne and heir to the dukedom of Argyll , which created quite a stir. In 1870, Lorne was marked by Queen Victoria as a possible groom for Louise, but at first, the princess was undecided upon Lorne.

Louise knew the difficulty her her eldest sister encountered in the royal courts of Europe, where Vicky’s liberal-minded precepts were met with repression. Louise did not believe she could not live such a life of restriction, especially with her growing interest in philanthropy and the advancement of women. She would be labeled as a troublemaker, just as Vicky was. Therefore, she knew she must seek a British husband, which meant a non-royal and a commoner. Her engagement to the Marquis of Lorne in the autumn of 1870 was supported not only by her mother but also by her mother’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli knew Lorne, a commoner despite his descent from the Kings of Scotland, for a gentle, good-tempered man of ‘bright cultivated intelligence’ who was just right for the artistic Louise. The match also pleased the British public which had feared yet another of the ‘German marriages’ which, in their view, had already occurred too often in the Royal Family. 

“In March 1870, the Marquess of Lorne was told an engagement was not going to take place; Louise had changed her mind. As the Queen wrote to Lord Granville on 13 March, ‘while the Princess thinks Lord Lorne very clever and agreeable, she does not think she could have that feeling for him which would enable her to wish for any nearer acquaintance with a view to a further result. He is too young for her…’

51bSI++o8YL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg “The end of her putative engagement to Lorne does not seem to have caused Louise much heartache. Soon afterwards, she was at a breakfast party hosted by the Gladstone [the queen’s longtime bête noire, Prime Minister William Gladstone] family and Lady Lucy Cavendish noted in her diary, ‘Sat by Princess Louise, who looked very pretty and was charming and well-mannered, as usual.’ Rumours now suggested Lord Cowper as the princess’s intended fiancé. At the start of October, however, all mention of Lord Cowper was at an end, and the newspapers were about to get the story they’d been longing for.” (Hawksley, Lucinda. Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise. ©2013, St Martin’s Press, 119) The princess and Lorne’s chance meeting at the Gladstones’ breakfast party at Carlton House Terrace led them to a better understanding. At the time of their engagement, Lorne’s income was a paltry £4,000, but he was eventually to be 9th Duke of Argyll. Although “romantic love” was purported, it was more likely that the pair thought they could like in harmony. 

article-2508123-006E6CA01000044C-645_306x521.jpgObjections to the marriage were expected from the European states, which did not condone marriages between royalty and commoners; however, the Prince of Wales’s objection was not. As the eldest son and Victoria’s assumed heir, Albert Edward (Bertie) not only objected to his sister marrying a commoner, but he also objected to Lorne for the Campbell family were prominent Liberals. Moreover, Lorne sat in the House of Commons as a supporter of Gladstone. According to Jerrold M. Packard in Victoria’s Daughters (©1998, St. Martin’s, 146), “It is likely, however, that Bertie’s most fundamental objection to his sister’s marriage purely concerned Lorne’s rank, a complaint founded on what were at the time rational grounds. In fact, all sorts of problems would inevitably have to be sorted out: Lorne’s precedence, the unedifying specter of Louise and her spouse being distantly separated at official functions, the Argylls’ deep involvement with banking and commerce (which might generate conflicts of interest, not to mention smacking of actually working for a living), even whether Louise herself might have to give up her own royal status.” 

Princess_Louise_and_Lorne_engagement.jpg The royal family did not expect objections from the public sector. By the time of Louise’s marriage, Victoria’s popularity had dipped considerably for she was sore to make public appearances after Prince Albert’s death. However, in order to force Parliament’s agreement to both Louise’s dowry of £30,000 (+ £6,000 a year for life) and £15,000 for life for Prince Arthur (who had come of age at the same time as the wedding), Victoria agreed to open Parliament (a duty she had forgone since Albert’s death). Louise stood on the steps during this duty. 

Princess Louise and Lorne were married in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in Berkshire. 

Resources and Other Readings: 

“The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter by Lucinda Hawksley – Review,” The Guardian 

“Queen Victoria’s ravishing daughter, a secret love and a sex scandal the Royal Family’s STILL trying to cover up,” The Daily Mail 

“Princess Louise,” Britannia 

“Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll,” Wikipedia 


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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4 Responses to Princess Louise Marries a Commoner

  1. I wouldn’t be a Royal if you paid me. On the other hand the thought of the money…!

  2. Pingback: Princess Louise’s Early Years of Marriage | ReginaJeffers's Blog

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