Matthew Dennison's The Last Princess

Matthew Dennison's The Last Princess


The evening that Mr Dennison gives a Bronwen talk is the day to look forward to, so on Friday 15th I sat in the Musgrave along with many other girls, members of staff, parents and visitors to hear what Mr Dennison had to say about Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest child and most dutiful daughter.

Mr Dennison really told us a story of love, death, sadness and above all else, control. Princess Beatrice was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s final child, whose father died before she was five and grew up being the person her mother demanded affection from. She had no real childhood, missing out on the fun her older siblings had experienced, until their mother’s grief had taken over her.

As the youngest she was forced to take on the role of Victoria’s carer and companion, having to follow her around wherever she was, not even being allowed to have marriage discussed in front of her out of Victoria’s fear that the one person she had grown to rely on would leave her. Unfortunately, disaster struck, for Victoria at least, when Beatrice fell in love and married. Her new family life couldn’t have been easy and happy, as Mr Dennison puts it; she couldn’t be world’s best mother, because ‘she was already being the world’s best daughter’.

After her mother’s death everything else seemed to pale into insignificance for Beatrice and she dutifully continued the role that she had been trained in as her mother’s protector by copying out every single one of Victoria’s journals and destroying evidence of views that could taint Victoria’s image.

The evening was wonderful. Those of us who know him are fully aware that Mr Dennison is a passionate speaker and hearing him talk about a subject on which he is so knowledgeable was a privilege; the atmosphere represented this, with respectful silence and bouts of chuckling that often arose from comments made about the days Beatrice spent in Balmoral playing the harmonium or her short and interrupted honeymoon or even how her daughter managed to, almost single-handedly, destroy the Spanish monarchy. 

After many questions on Princess Beatrice and how Mr Dennison writes a book in three months we ended on a perfectly English note: a lesson in biscuit-dunking-etiquette.

- Molly (L6)