Queen Victoria of England, rigid, severe and moralist in many ways, was extremely innovative in others. She was born for dynasty duty. George III, although with many sons, did not have any grandchild therefore his succession was in danger. He imposed on his sons to speed up the process, even when none of them was married yet. Victoria’s father, Prince Edward Duke of Kent, got married in his 51 years old in 1818 and the baby was born the following year, on the 24th of May 1819.
The future Queen was just the fifth in the line of succession
In 1820 she became the third, in 1830 the second and by becoming heir to the throne they quickly taught her English and French, as until then she was only speaking German. In 1837 the last ruling brother of her father died and Victoria became Queen.
Her real name was Alexandrina Victoria, called “Drina” in the family. One of the very first actions taken by the sovereign was omitting the name Alexandrina as she had never liked it. In 1836 she met and fell in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, her first cousin who married in February 1840.
Not many people know that the official marriage proposal had to come from her side, as her rank higher than his would expect so
The queen wore a completely white dress in the day of her wedding. This was an extremely odd choice as back in the day the colour that the brides used to wear was light blue and furthermore the white was the tone that Queens would wear only for their own funeral. Probably Victoria did not expect that, but her choice affected the fashion still running to this very day.
Vittoria was the first Queen to dwell in Buckingham Palace, even though she would spend lots of her time in Balmoral in Scotland, Windsor, in the Osborne House and in the Isle of Wight, where she died in 1901.
After the following 9 months from her wedding, in November 1840, the couple’s first (of nine) child was born. Victoria used to consider pregnancy as a very unpleasant matter as she did not particularly like newborns either. She always refused to breastfeed her children as she maintained “..to not be a cow”.
On the other hand it seemed that the woman was extremely passionate and when her doctor discouraged her from having other children, she protested saying that this would have had consequences on her intimate life with her husband.
The Queen was one of the first women to ever experiment the ether anaesthetic in 1853 for the birth of her son Leopold. The procedure shocked the clergy for the subversion of the biblical concept of “delivering with pain”.
from the Genesis book to the woman it said: “I will sharply increase your pain in childbirth; in pain you will bring forth children.”
Although the illusory modernity, Victoria also openly fought the suffragettes and their battle for the vote. At the death of Albert in 1861, she started wearing only black clothes, decided to honour the mourning lifestyle and made up a new habit for the widows.
Every evening after the death of her beloved husband, the manservant had to keep on preparing the room of the deceased man with his night garments as well as the accessories that he would have “supposedly” needed the following morning for the toilette routine. Everything was stored away every morning and set up once again every evening. Funnily enough this tradition kept on going all the way to the Queen’s death.
One of the most curious anecdotes about Victoria was the one about her last will and the list of objects she asked to be placed inside her coffin and buried with her. The list would count 12 pages in total which were not supposed to be shown to her relatives, and that her personal secretary as well as her doctor followed thoroughly.
First of all on the bottom of the coffin she wanted to have a layer of coal in order to prevent bad smell coming from decomposition and discharge. On top on that, she wanted to have Albert’s robe and then her body would have been laid out.
She wanted to be buried dressed completely in white, with her old wedding veil, a bouquet of erica in her hands, typical Scottish plant that had to be hidden from sight, as well as all the other objects, covered by flowers on top of those.
Victoria wanted to wear loads of jewels, all with a deep sentimental value for her: on her left ring finger her wedding ring received by Albert and on her right one the wedding ring of her servant John Brown’s mother. From that man she also wanted a picture, a lock of hair and some letters.
John Brown was a controversial figure: servant, friend, counselor and maybe much more. It seems that the letters they used to exchange were very intimate, suggesting a way deeper relationship amongst the two. Whether John and Victoria had a love story, John had a special place in Victoria’s mind by looking at her last will.
Below: picture of John Brown
Maybe something more had happened between them since Edward VII had all his memories destroyed and moved all the statues dedicated to him in “more discreet” locations.
In her coffin she wanted to carry a plaster cast of her husband’s hand as well as one of his capes too, embroidered by their daughter Alice, maybe their favourite, the first of their children to die and mother of Alexandra, future Russian zarine.
Shortly before her death, she gave instruction that her loved pet Pomeranian, Turi, should have stayed with her on the bed so that it could make her company during the passing, and so it was.
As she wished, she had a military funeral. Her coffin was moved from the Isle of Wight to Windsor for the ceremony in the St. George Chapel. She wanted to be transported on top of a Gun Carriage, escorted by horse guards and all her numerous nephews and relatives wore a uniform.
Below: the whole family, Victoria, Albert and all their 9 children,1857
Her burial chamber in Windsor was open only to her relatives as she did not want any public exposure. Under the many flowers covering her body, no one noticed the objects she secretly asked to hide in.
Queen Victoria was buried in the mausoleum of Frogmore, were Albert was already resting in. At the death of the husband, she had commissioned the mausoleum and two statues which were functioning as decoration. Hers, placed inside a storage room of Windsor, was found and installed only some time later the funeral.
Below: Victoria and Albert’s tomb in a postcard from the 20’s