III. Later Life (1883-1939)
When their ship docked at Liverpool, Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne were greeted by cheering crowds. Following a reception at the Liverpool Town Hall, the couple travelled to London and took up residence at Kensington Palace.
After a brief period of rest, Princess Louise resumed her busy schedule of public duties. The most common of these was officiating at the openings of new public buildings, exhibitions, and special programs. As well, her relative freedom of movement allowed her to spend a considerable amount of time with Queen Victoria and other members of her family.
The Marquis of Lorne continued to pursue his political interests. After being defeated as the Liberal candidate for Hampstead in 1885, he was elected Member of Parliament for South Manchester in 1895. The Marquis of Lorne also continued his literary efforts by writing several books. Memories of Scotland and Canada and a biography of Queen Victoria are two examples. In October, 1897, his play "Diarmid" was set to music and produced at Covent Garden. On opening night, he and Princess Louise were accompanied at the theatre by the Princess of Wales, and the public response to his work was enthusiastic. In 1900, Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, proposed that the Marquis of Lorne be appointed Governor General of the new federation of Australia. However, Queen Victoria refused to consider this offer because of Princess Louise's poor health. On April 25, 1901, when his father died, the Marquis of Lorne became the 9th Duke of Argyll.
As a break from her busy schedule, Princess Louise occasionally travelled to other European countries. Disliking publicity, she used the names "Mrs. Campbell" or "Lady Sundridge."19 In later years, Princess Louise enjoyed attending public lectures concerning new ideas without escort. When taken to task on this account, she stated that she would prove her anonymity by walking unidentified through Kensington Gardens. The first man she met recognized her and doffed his hat. After returning his greeting with a smile, she walked on and muttered, "Horrid man!"
Another interesting incident involved one of the servants at Kensington Palace. One afternoon, the butler approached Princess Louise during tea and asked her permission to release the second footman. He stated that the footman did not get up on time in the morning. Princess Louise hated dismissing servants and suggested he be given an alarm clock. When she was informed that he already had one, she began to get desperate and stated that she had read about a bed that would throw people out at a set time. She was advised that this wasn't feasible. She then suggested that the footman might be ill. Consequently, the Marquis of Lorne had the servant examined by a doctor and it was discovered that he was suffering from tuberculosis. A position was found for him on a farm in New Zealand where he might have a better chance of recovering his health.
One of the most humorous and revealing stories concerning Princess Louise concerns her encounter in Bermuda with a black woman named Mrs. McCarthy. Princess Louise had been invited to a reception and decided to walk rather than take a carriage. Along the way, she felt thirsty, stopped at Mrs. McCarthy's house and asked for a glass of water. Mrs. McCarthy was busy ironing her husband's shirt and stated, "You'll have to wait until I finish this shirt." Princess Louise replied, "You get the water while I finish the shirt." The surprised woman went and got the water while Princess Louise finished ironing the shirt. One can imagine Mrs. McCarthy's reaction when she was informed of the identity of her visitor. At the time of Princess Louise's death in 1939, the McCarthy family still retained the old shirt as a souvenir of that amusing incident.20
Following the death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901, Princess Louise's brother Prince Edward became King Edward VII. Although the new king had expressed some objections at the time of her engagement to the Marquis of Lorne, he and Princess Louise were still very close. Consequently, Princess Louise was one of his confidantes and played an important role during his reign. King Edward and Queen Alexandra were among the most frequent visitors to Princess Louise's home at Kensington Palace.
Princess Louise continued to work energetically on behalf of many British charities. When he was still alive, the Marquis of Lorne was very helpful in this regard. The causes that interested her most were related to the welfare of women and children. Veterans' affairs and the preservation of historic sites and beauty spots also took up a great deal of her time. Some of the organizations that she had a close association with were the Girls' Public Day School Company, mentioned previously in Chapter 1; the National Society for the Protection of Young Girls; the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science, which by the time of her death had become the largest institution in Great Britain for training in the domestic sciences; the Band of Hope, a movement known principally for its crusade against the abuses of alcohol; Heritage Homes, for the retraining of wounded and disabled soldiers and the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty. It should be noted that Princess Louise's interest in good works was not merely nominal. Her efforts in this regard were tireless and widely known. To honour her contributions, several institutions and organizations were named after her. Two examples are the Princess Louise Home for Girls21 and the Princess Louise Nurses for Children.
Although generous with charities, Princess Louise managed her own household carefully. One example was her practice of encouraging everyone to use his table napkin twice. As well, there were no exceptions to wartime rationing regulations at Kensington Palace.
After her return to England, Princess Louise maintained her strong interest in Canada. She was present on November 25, 1884, when Queen Victoria presented Sir John A. Macdonald with the Grand Order of the Bath. Whenever Princess Louise was informed that Canadians were present at any function she was attending, she always made an effort to speak to them personally. During World War I, she took a special interest in the welfare of Canadian troops. In July, 1916, she presented them with a silver banner and shield on behalf of the women and children of Britain for coming to the defence of Britain.
Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne were an affectionate couple and loved children. It was the Marquis of Lorne's habit to stop and kiss his wife on the top of her head as they passed in the hall. On these occasions, Princess Louise would look up with a smile and say, "Oh, Lorne, don't!" It was a great source of sorrow to them both that they had no children. Young people took to them naturally, and during their numerous visits to shelters and schools, they would often join the children in their games and merry-making.
As the years progressed, Princess Louise maintained her reputation for immaculate grooming and good taste in clothes: ". . . she was always beautifully turned out and there was never a hair out of place. She had a wonderful upright figure and showed off her clothes to perfection."22 Her husband, on the other hand, became rather careless in this regard and was once described by his tailor as "the worst dressed man in London." News concerning this comment disturbed the Duke. He wasn't concerned for himself, as one might expect. He said he felt sorry for his tailor.
Princess Louise was predeceased by her husband on May 4,1913. During a visit to the Isle of Wight, he caught a chill which developed into pneumonia. He was buried at Holy Loch, Scotland.
"The Grand Old Lady of Kensington Palace," as she was now known, continued to display her great compassion for the unfortunate that Canadians had noted many years earlier. During walks and drives, she often expressed concern for persons she observed to be downcast or dejected and would inquire whether she could be of some assistance. On one occasion, she noticed that a nurse was letting her small charge suck on a newspaper. Princess Louise stopped and expressed her concern for the child's welfare. Another time, she had her car stopped so she could help a policeman clean some dirt out of his eye. Word concerning her thoughtfulness spread, and her popularity continued to grow.
On December 3,1939, Princess Louise died of natural causes at Kensington Palace. Many tributes were received, including one from the Prime Minister of Canada, MacKenzie King. It read: "In the death of Princess Louise Canada has lost a true friend who never failed to retain a very special interest in the country which was so much a part of her earlier life."
The funeral service was held at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth attended and were accompanied by Princess Elizabeth, their daughter. 23 The people of Canada were represented by Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada in London.24 Remaining somewhat of an individualist to the end, Princess Louise's remains were cremated at Golder's Green Crematorium. The casket containing her ashes was then placed in the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle for the funeral service. It was then buried in the Royal Cemetery, Frogmore, near the grave of the Duchess of Connaught, one of her sisters-in-law.
In 1980, the Province of Alberta celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary. One project commissioned by the government that year was a statue of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. When it was completed, the statue was placed in an alcove in the rotunda of Alberta's Legislature Building in Edmonton. It was unveiled by The Honourable Mary J. LeMessurier, Minister of Culture, on March 10, 1982. The bronze statue is life-size and was sculpted by Olle Holmsten.
Statue of Princess Louise in the Alberta Legislature Building, Edmonton
Photograph by the Alberta Public Affairs Bureau
19. "Campbell" was
the Marquis of Lorne's common name and he assumed the title "Lord Sundridge"
when he became the Duke of Argyll.