Last month, we looked at Princess Louise’s choosing to become the future Duchess of Argyll. View that post HERE. Today, we will take at look at the marriage itself.
Just because Princess Louise had finally emerged from the shadow cast by her familial relationship to Queen Victoria did not mean Louise had completely shed the mantle she had worn for many years. In fact two days into her marriage to John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Marquis of Lorne and heir to the dukedom of Argyll, the Queen herself paid them a visit. The newlyweds chose to spend the first part of their marriage journey at Claremont House, near Windsor. Queen Victoria’s purpose was more than motherly concerns for her daughter, for Lorne had thought to take Louise to the Continent as part of their honeymoon. One must remember, though, that Europe had recently seen the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Therefore, it was likely that Louise would not be acknowledged properly in the European courts as the daughter of the Queen of England. Miraculously, Lorne rejected his mother-in-law’s meddling, much to Victoria’s dismay.
In Florence, for example, Louise and Lorne used one of the marquis’s secondary titles, that of Lord Sundridge, and the pair was able to avoid many of the obligatory calls on foreign royalty required of a British princess.
When the couple returned to London, they originally stayed at Argyll Lodge, a mansion north of Kensington High Street. The estate bordered Holland Park. The estate was connected to Westminster by a turnpike road. The time at Argyll Lodge provided Louise time to become more intimate with the Campbell family: Argylls, Sutherlands, Westminsters, Leinsters, Northumberlands, Blantyres, and Carlisles. The Duke and Duchess of Argyll oversaw what went on at Argyll Lodge, but Louise noted later in life that she had been happy there. Eventually, when Lorne became the Duke of Argyll, they would reside at Inveraray Castle in Scotland, a massive castle that would prove to be a “money hole” for the Argyll family.
When Lorne first escorted Louise to Inveraray, the couple was greeted with a crowd of Campbells from the surrounding villages and towns and farmlands to welcome the Queen’s daughter. Pipers reportedly played “The Campbells Are Comin’.”
In London, the couple had to find a suitable home of their own. They leased a five-storery townhouse in Belgravia’s Grovenor Crescent, a relatively new enclave for the wealthy. The house was quite expensive, and Lorne only acceded to taking it, for he recognized his wife’s position in society.
Needless to say, Victoria did not leave her daughter to Louise’s duties. She often begged for Louise’s assistance, keeping Lorne and Louise apart for long periods of time. Even so, Louise was the only one of her sisters who was able to enjoy a certain level of normalcy. Despite Victoria’s efforts to convince Lorne to accept a dukedom, Lorne consistently refused, saying he preferred to remain in the House of Commons and that he would not dishonor his father or the Argyll dukedom by accepting the Queen’s offer. Victoria wrote to Louise: “… if I approved of Lorne marrying MY daughter, he ought to have rank as her husband.”
The largest issue with which the couple dealt was the lack of children. Later, people questioned whether Lorne was a homosexual, but Louise’s writings regularly mentions their sexual encounters. By Victorian standards, Louise’s inability to conceive was a “stigma” on her character. Louise traveled to Germany to partake of medicinal baths and the Queen instructed the senior royal physician, Sir William Jenner, to offer advice to the princess. For more than a dozen years, Louise attempted several homeopathic “cures.” In retrospect, most experts believe her bout of meningitis was the cause of her remaining childless.
According to Jerrold M. Packard, author of Victoria’s Daughters (©1998, St. Martin’s, New York, 182), “Vicky [the Queen’s eldest daughter] also fretted about Louise’s lack of children, wondering in a letter to Louise when ‘a host of small Campbells’ might be available to keep their various cousins company. When later complimenting her daughter on a new country house she had taken, Vicky commented not very tactfully how much nicer it would be there were a ‘few little fair heads looking out the windows.’ Their mother told Louise to ‘be careful of your diet and in not omitting aperient medicines….’ The queen also weighed in with the view that no children were preferable to ‘wicked’ ones. Leopold [Duke of Albany, Victoria’s son and Louise’s brother] tactlessly wrote his congratulations to Louise when her sister-in-law (the wife of Lord Archie Campbell, Lorne’s younger brother) had a son, with the inane observation that the birth was of a ‘possible future (I hope not) Duke….'”