A Look Into The Royal Curse Queen Victoria Carried

Queen Victoria is known as the Grandmother of Europe. Most of the current European royals can trace their lineage back to her. Even Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip is related to Queen Victoria (his mother is Victoria's great-granddaughter, while his wife is her great-great-granddaughter). But this family interconnectedness comes at a great price. Queen Victoria carried with her a royal curse, one that she passed on to other royals. Unlike that episode of Doctor Who, where Queen Victoria passed on lycanthropy to her heirs, her royal curse is more of a medical nature: She was a carrier for hemophilia.

Hemophilia is a genetic disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly. Those with the disease often bleed excessively, leading to pain, and in some cases, death. Victoria herself did not manifest hemophilia, as it's typically passed through the mother to males in the family, explained English Monarchs. It's caused by a genetic mutation, and it's suspected Victoria carried a rarer form of hemophilia — hemophilia type B, or Factor IX deficiency. The mutation was in her X chromosome.

Victoria didn't believe she carried the gene for hemophilia. Her son Leopold was afflicted with the disease, and she told doctors she had no recollection of anyone else in the family exhibiting signs of it, wrote Hemophilia of Georgia.

The blood curse they hid

Victoria's family may not have manifested hemophilia earlier, though there may have been evidence it already ran through their bloodline. Hemophilia of Georgia pointed out that her half-brother died of bleeding when she was younger, though it wasn't specified if it was because of hemophilia inherited from their mother.

Nor did the public realize Leopold had hemophilia until after his death, at the age of 30, from hemorrhage following a fall. Before this, Victoria's family had placed restrictions on Leopold, wrote English Monarchs. Leopold had always been a delicate child and may have also suffered from a form of epilepsy (from which another of Victoria's descendants, Prince John, also suffered). Some suggest an epileptic fit caused Leopold to fall and hurt himself, leading to unstoppable bleeding. Doctors at the time told Victoria that she may not have known she had passed it on because she had so many children and only one really manifested it.

The thing was, hemophilia was a political death sentence in those times, especially in Victoria's case. If any other royal family even caught a whiff of genetic abnormality in someone's bloodline, those individuals would be dropped from any and all royal eligibility lists. And Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had a lot of children they needed to marry off to other royal families. 

Victoria's form of hemophilia, thankfully, looks to be extinct in the royal lines of Europe now, reported Scientific American, but it had some deadly consequences.

How it spread through Europe

Victoria passed on the hemophilia gene to two of her daughters, Princesses Alice and Beatrice. Leopold's daughter also proved to be a carrier of hemophilia. Through this line, hemophilia then spread to other royal families of Europe. Princess Beatrice, Victoria's youngest daughter, gave birth to two sons who proved to have hemophilia. Beatrice's only daughter, Princess Victoria Eugenie, brought hemophilia to the Spanish Royal Family. Two of her sons suffered from it, including the heir to the throne. Leopold's daughter, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, had a son who had the disease.

The saddest instance of passing on hemophilia however, ran through the line of Princess Alice. Her son, Frederick, died from hemophilia at the age of two and a half. He was first diagnosed when he cut his ear and bled for three days. A few months later, he fell through a window. Doctors said he would've survived had he not been a hemophiliac. Her second daughter brought the disease to Prussia (though she married Victoria's grandson) and two of her sons suffered from it.

And then there's Princess Alix, better known as Tsarina Alexandra of the Romanov family of Russia. Her youngest child, Alexei (pictured above), had hemophilia. Alexandra, desperate to save her son, contracted Grigori Rasputin to heal him. As you probably know, that did not end well.

Queen Victoria, with her large family, propped up European royal families, but she also brought with her a curse.