In early 1874, Prince Alfred (son of Queen Victoria) married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (daughter of Czar Alexander II) in St. Petersburg. Their wedding “directly united the British and Russian royal families for the first time.”
(To mark the occasion, a London bakery invented the Marie biscuit, also known as the Maria cookie.)
Alfred and Maria ended up having five children: Alfred, Marie, Victoria Melita, Alexandra, and Beatrice.
Their third child was born in November of 1876 while her father, a Royal Navy officer, was stationed on the island of Malta (which was then part of the British Empire). The baby girl was named Victoria after her grandmother and Melita after the national personification of Malta, her birthplace.
Where does the name Melita come from?
Most of the time, it derives from the ancient Greek word meli, meaning “honey.” In the case of the allegorical figure, however, it came from the name of an ancient Maltese city.
Melita (or Melite) was the Roman name of the city. The Romans had taken the island from the Phoenicians during the Second Punic War. The Phoenicians’ original name for the city (founded in the 8th century B.C.) was Maleth, meaning “shelter.”
What are your thoughts on the name Melita?
P.S. Victoria Melita’s older sister, Marie, went on to marry the future king of Romania. (Americans became familiar with Marie and two of her children, Nicolae and Ileana, when the three of them toured the U.S. for several weeks in late 1926.) And Victoria Melita’s paternal uncle, the future Edward VII, was the father of Louise, Victoria and Maud, a.k.a., Louvima.
Sources: Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – Wikipedia, The marriage of Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna – The Royal Collection Trust, Early Inhabitants – Visit Malta
Image: Victoria Melita autograph card