Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll - Early Life

Early Life

Louise was born on 18 March 1848 at Buckingham Palace, London. She was the fourth daughter and sixth child of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As the daughter of the sovereign, Louise was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise from birth. Her birth coincided with revolutions which swept across Europe, prompting the Queen to remark that Louise would turn out to be "something peculiar". The Queen's labour with Louise was the first to be aided with chloroform. Albert and Victoria chose the names Louisa Caroline Alberta. Louise was chosen to honour Albert's mother. Though christened Louisa in Buckingham Palace's private chapel by John Bird Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on 13 May 1848, she was invariably known as Louise throughout her life. Her godparents were Duke Gustav of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (her paternal great-great-uncle, for whom Prince Albert stood proxy); The Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen (for whom her great-aunt Queen Adelaide stood proxy); and The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (her first cousin once-removed, for whom her mother The Duchess of Cambridge stood proxy). During the ceremony, The Duchess of Gloucester, one of the few children of George III who were still alive, forgot where she was, and suddenly got up in the middle of the service and knelt at the Queen's feet, much to the Queen's horror.

Like her other siblings, Louise was brought up with the strict programme of education devised by her father, Prince Albert, and his friend and confidant, Baron Stockmar. The young children were taught practical tasks, such as cooking, farming, household tasks and carpentry.

From her early years, Louise was a talented and intelligent child, and her artistic talents were quickly recognised. On his visit to Osborne House in 1863, Hallam Tennyson, the son of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, remarked that Louise could "draw beautifully". Because of her royal rank, an artistic career was not considered. However, the Queen allowed her to attend art school under the tuition of the sculptress Mary Thornycroft, and she later, in 1863, enrolled at the National Art Training School, South Kensington. Louise also became an able dancer, and Victoria wrote, after a dance, that Louise "danced the sword dance with more verve and accuracy than any of her sisters". Her wit and intelligence made her a favourite with her father, with her inquisitive nature earning her the nickname "Little Miss Why" from other members of the royal family.

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