(GL Archive/Alamy Stock Photo) In the 1850s, Prince Albert grasped the potential of Protestant Prussia to unite all the German states under its banner, and the power this new country could wield in Europe.
He did not want a newly unified Germany under Prussian domination to exert its influence as a military dictatorship or autocracy.
After the Napoleonic Wars, British foreign policy aimed to achieve a balance of power in Europe; no single country should become sufficiently dominant to unleash such destruction across the continent ever again.
In the mid-19th century, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria believed that dynastic marriages between their nine children and European royalty would provide a further safeguard.
Her marriage in 1858 was not just a question of her health and happiness, Albert warned.
as it probably will decide the fate of our dear eldest child”.
These matches soon brought connections to the royal houses in Denmark, Greece and Russia.
Four more of Queen Victoria’s younger children would later marry into German royal houses.
Traumatised and isolated in the German court, Vicky poured out her heart in her revealing correspondence to her mother.
The two royal families of Great Britain and Russia sit for a portrait during Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight in 1909.
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But a century before that, there was another dream of European unity, born out of the ravages of the Napoleonic Wars in which up to 6 million people lost their lives.