Alexandra of Denmark (December 1, 1844 - November 20, 1925) was queen consort of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom 1901-1910. Prior to that, she was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901 -- the longest any woman has ever held that title.
In many ways, Alexandra, or "Alix" as she was known within the family, may be seen as a precursor to Diana, Princess of Wales. She was born on December 1, 1844, at the Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen, to Prince Christian, later King Christian IX of Denmark. Although of royal blood, her family lived a comparatively normal life and though they did not possess great wealth, they nevertheless made spectacular marriages. Her sister Princess Dagmar, for instance, would become Maria Feodorovna, wife of Czar Alexander III of Russia and mother of Nicholas II.
England's Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, known as "Bertie", had already given his parents, Queen Victoria and her husband, considerable cause for concern, and his mother, now widowed, was anxious for him to settle down. Alexandra of Denmark was not her first choice, since the Danes were at loggerheads with the Prussians, and most of the British royal family's relations were German. However, on meeting the queen, Alix met with her approval as well as Bertie's, and the couple were married on March 10, 1863.
Alix's style was very different from that of the senior British royals. She was devoted to her children and her servants and enjoyed activities such as dancing and ice skating. Even after the birth of her first child, Prince Albert Victor ("Eddy") in 1864, she continued to behave much as before, and this led to some friction between the queen and the young couple. After the birth of her third child in 1867, however, complications threatened her life and she was left with a permanent limp as a result. She also suffered an increasing degree of deafness, which was hereditary. Self-conscious about a scar on her neck (allegedly the result of a childhood accident), she tried to hide it by wearing high choker necklaces and dresses. A strikingly attractive woman, Alix's high necklines started a fashion craze, though few at the time knew the secret behind them.
Bertie and Alix adopted Sandringham House as their preferred residence, and their marriage was in many ways a happy one. However, Bertie did not give his wife or children as much attention as she would have liked, and they grew gradually estranged, until his serious illness in the early 1870s brought about a reconciliation. Their relationship, over the years, was an up-and-down affair, as Bertie, even after winning back his wife's affections, continued to keep mistresses, one of the most notorious being the actress Lillie Langtry. The death of Prince Albert Victor in 1892 was a serious blow to the tender-hearted Alix, and she insisted on keeping his room and possessions exactly as he had left them, much as did her mother-in-law after the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Alix herself remained startlingly youthful looking into her senior years, thanks to elaborate veils and sensationally heavy makeup (an observer described her as looking enamelled).
As Queen from 1901 to 1910, and Queen Mother thereafter, Alix was greatly loved by the British people. She was associated with many charities, the most notable being Alexandra Rose Day. During the Boer War, she founded Queen Alexandra's Nursing Corps, which became known as the "Q.A.s". However, she lacked political acumen, and her hatred for the Germans became very apparent during World War I, a hatred that stemmed from the German conquest of the formerly Danish lands Schleswig and Holstein during the Second War of Schleswig in 1864. She died on November 20, 1925, at Sandringham, and was buried at Windsor.