200th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s Birth

 

Queen Victoria was famously known as having gone to bed a Princess and woke up to be the Queen of Britain. 24th May 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of this remarkable Queen whose name denotes an entire era of British history.

 

The night Victoria became Queen

 

In her journals, Queen Victoria wrote of the night when she became the Queen of Britain,

“I was awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen

 

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Victoria, Duchess of Kent with Victoria, later Queen Victoria, c.1824 (enamel on copper), Henry Bone (1755-1834) / Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2018 (credit to: http://blog.bridgemanimages.com/

 

Victoria – An iconic monarch

One of the most iconic monarchs in history, Queen Victoria – Alexandrina Victoria, was born in Kensington Palace on 24th May 1819, to Edward Augustus of Great Britain, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She became Queen at the young age of 18 and reigned for 63 years until her death in 1901. She is the first monarch to have her name given to the period of her reign while she was alive. She was the empress of the world’s largest ever empire, that ruled the world. The list of places named after her are extensive and dotted all over the Commonwealth countries.

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Queen Victoria by English School, (20th century); Private Collection; (add.info.: Queen Victoria (1837-1901)); © Look and Learn; credit to http://blog.bridgemanimages.com/

 

Discover the real Victoria, made in Kensington Exhibition

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria, the Historic Royal Palaces is hosting exhibitions and a number of events during this season – Discover the real Victoria, made in Kensington. The exhibitions at Kensington Palace opens on 24th May 2019 and will feature the rooms where Queen Victoria grew-up in. These have been restored for visitors to explore and to get an intimate look at the childhood of this iconic monarch.

If you are visiting UK during this season, I would highly recommend it. Look out for my upcoming blog on my visit to this exhibition at Kensington Palace on its opening day on 24th May 2019.

Read more on how to get here and other useful information below.

 

A brief look at history on Queen Victoria

 

Victoria’s Childhood

Although described as the woman who redefined Britain’s monarchy, Queen Victoria had a sheltered childhood, which she herself described as “sad” in one of her journal entries – she was controlled by her over-protective mother, the Duchess of Kent and the power-obsessed John Conroy, isolated by rules, known as the “Kensington System” during her youth. She was “home” tutored, shared her room with her mother and was never alone. She was not allowed friends. She found a way to express her thoughts in her diary – she started writing her journal when she was 13.  

When she succeeded her uncle, William IV, soon after her 18th birthday, her first request as Queen was to have an hour alone. Thereafter, she moved to Buckingham Palace, making that her official royal residence. The Queen described her coronation as a “beautiful impressive moment” (Journal entry, 28 June 1838). 

Below is a short trailer from the drama series Victoria (2016), which shows her ascension to the throne, her marriage to Prince Albert and much more…taken from her personal journal entries and depicted for the show.

 

 

Victoria & Albert

Queen Victoria fell in love with Prince Albert, whom she married four months later.

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A Royal White Wedding – An illustration of Victoria and Albert’s wedding in the Illustrated London News. Mary Evans. (Credit to: https://www.bbc.com/timelines/

 

In her journal entries, she wrote,

“Albert really is quite charming, and so excessively handsome… a beautiful figure, broad in the shoulders and a fine waist. My heart is quite going.” 

They were a couple deeply in love.

 

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H.R.H. Prince Albert, the Prince Consort (oil on canvas), John Lucas (1807-74) / The Crown Estate (credit to: http://blog.bridgemanimages.com/)

 

In a further journal entry, Queen Victoria described her husband as,

“so kind, so affectionate; oh! to feel I was, and am, loved by such an Angel as Albert, was too great delight to describe!”

(Journal entry, 15 October 1839). They welcomed nine children.

 

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Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and Prince Albert (1819-61) with Five of the Their Children, 1846 (colour engraving), Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1806-73) (after) / Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK / The Stapleton Collection (credit to: bridgemanimages)

 

Victoria & Albert – their love affair with Isle of Wight and Scottish Highlands

Victoria and Albert fell in love with the Isle of Wight where they frequently visited for their summer vacation. They were inspired by their visits to the Bay of Naples and built Osborne House on a spot where Queen Victoria once described as “it would be impossible to imagine a prettier spot.”

Osborne House
“It would be impossible to imagine a prettier spot” – Queen Victoria

 

At the same time, the couple also visited the Scottish Highlands and they fell in love with the wild and romantic landscape of the highlands. It reminded Albert of his home in Germany. The couple bought Balmoral and built a neo-Gothic castle between 1853 and 1856 which remains a private residence for the Royal Family today.

I have uploaded a short video here on the incredibly beautiful architecture of Balmoral Castle (credit to Architecture, 2018). I am sure that you will enjoy watching it 🙂

 

Victoria promoted Scotland through her visits and attended several Highland Games. She documented her experiences and wrote a bestselling book, Highland Leaves. You can preview it and buy a copy by clicking the links below:

For UK Readers:

For US Readers:

 

Victoria and Albert – The death of Prince Albert

Unfortunately, Prince Albert died of typhoid in 1861 at the age of 42. Queen Victoria was devastated and only ever wore black afterwards for the rest of her life as a sign of mourning. Queen Victoria spent her later years in Isle of Wight, making Osborne House her permanent home until her death in 1901. You can read more about Isle of Wight in my blog, Explore the Victorian Love Affair – Isle of Wight’s Top 5 Adventures.

 

Conclusion

The Victorian era was an era of prosperity, political reform and strong family values. Queen Victoria is known for popularising many of today’s customs and traditions. For this reason, to honour Queen Victoria, an Exhibition is held at Kensington Palace. I think this is an exciting opportunity to take a look at life “as it was” and walk in the footsteps of royalty.

Travel tips and Useful information

For tickets and how to get here, please see below.

Tickets

Entry to Kensington Palace and the Discover the Real Victoria – Made in Kensington Exhibition is £17.50 for Adults and £8.70 for Child.

You may wish to consider purchasing an Annual Membership with the Historic Royal Palaces which grants you unlimited access to 6 Royal Palaces including Kensington Palace. You can read more of its benefits in my blog, Why the Historic Royal Palaces Annual Membership is good for me.

You can skip the line and purchase your tickets here ⇓⇓⇓

Opening Times

Monday-Sunday: 10:00-18:00

Last admission: 17:00

Getting here

Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens,

London W8 4PX

Public Transport

London Underground and trains

High Street Kensington station (10 – 15 minute walk) – for the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines

Queensway station (10 – 15 minute walk) – for the Central line

Notting Hill Gate station (20 – 25 minute walk) – for Central, District and Circle lines

Paddington station (20 minute walk)

Bus

Routes 70, 94, 148, and 390 stop along Bayswater Road

Routes 9, 10, 49, 52, 70 and 452 stop along Kensington High Street

https://www.hrp.org.uk

https://www.bbc.com

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4 Comments

  1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this post and found the overview useful. I have learnt more of Queen Victoria’s younger days during this exhibition than in books which I have read. I, too found the movie, Victoria & Abdul to be a splendid one. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I appreciate it.

  2. I enjoyed this post so much and really wished England was closer as I’d love to go to this Exhibition. You’ve given a wonderful overview of all that is waiting for visitors to enjoy. The Queen was obviously very endearing towards children – a fact that doesn’t come through too often in other documentaries. I also thoroughly enjoyed the movie Victoria and Abdul while on a ship a few months ago 🙂 Fantastic post.

  3. I am glad that you found the post informative and helpful. Sure hope to see your return to the UK soon and so be able to visit Balmoral. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Christy and have a wonderful week ahead.

  4. Very informative post Georgina! I am a fan of the Victoria series but learned new things from you — I didn’t realize the couple built Balmoral and I would now love to visit one day. I wish I was in London right now to partake in some of her birthday celebration activities!

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