Admittedly not the sort of breaking news and gossip in which the Royalist usually trades, but the intriguing story of Princess Louise, the sixth child of Queen Victoria, is the subject of a new book, "The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria's Rebellious Daughter", by biographer and art historian Lucinda Hawksley, who makes the startling claim in her book that Louise had an illegitimate child in her late teens.
Lucinda took a few moments to chat with the Daily Beast this Thanksgiving Day.
What is the story of Princess Louise?
Princess Louise is the 6th child and 4th daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (there were nine children in total). She was born in 1848 and died in 1939. She became a professional sculptor and hung around with all sorts of famous Bohemian artists and writers. She married in 1871, at the age of 23, but it was a marriage of convenience and as I investigate in my book, it seems likely that her husband was gay.
Why do you think she had an illegitimate child?
A baby boy was adopted in 1867 by the son of Queen Victoria's gynaecologist (whose name was Sir Charles Locock). The baby boy has no birth certificate and the names of his natural parents are not recorded anywhere. He grew up with the name Henry Locock as the adopted grandson of Sir Charles. When Henry married and had children, he told his children that his mother was Princess Louise and that he had access to her until he was 16. I believe his father was a soldier named Walter Stirling, who was employed by the queen as governor (or tutor) to her sickly son, Prince Leopold. (Louise and Leopold were very close.) Stirling was immediately popular with everyone including the queen, but after only 4 months was mysteriously dismissed. He received a regular allowance in return for his "discretion". I believe Louise was 18 years old when she had his baby.
How strong do you think the evidence is?
I believe the evidence is very strong - I have met and interviewed the descendents of the baby. Several family photos bear a strong resemblance to members of the royal family over the years. I also believe that because such mystery surrounds the princess and her files are closed off to the public this is just one thing, out of many, that is being kept secret (including other love affairs, which are written about in my book).
I assume you were blocked for access to the Royal archive?
Yes, I was denied access to Princess Louise's files. I was also denied access to the archives at her husband's ancestral home, Inveraray Castle in Scotland. Her husband was the Marquis of Lorne when she married him, later the 9th Duke of Argyll.