Blog Posts Fashion History queen victoria

Becoming Victoria – Royal Central

Becoming Victoria – Royal Central

Hanging within the magnificent Waterloo Chamber at Windsor is the state portrait of King William IV in his Garter robes with the Garter and Tub collars, painted by Sir David Wilkie for the King in 1832, that parliamentary historic yr of the Reform Act and in addition the yr by which the younger Princess Victoria of Kent, started her nice journal.

Within the context of the Waterloo Chamber, the portrait is however one in a splendid gallery of these monarchs and generals who have been instrumental in defeating Napolean Bonaparte in 1815; a part of the State Flats, the Chamber was added to Windsor Citadel by George IV. The truth that the portrait is at Windsor, nevertheless, has a secondary poignancy. It was at Windsor Fort that William IV died.

The demise of William IV in 1837 meant that the younger Victoria misplaced an uncle and a King, which mechanically meant that the information of his passing translated to her information that she was Queen. Victoria’s accession as Queen, had, in fact, meant his demise, so the messengers who drove over that night time from Windsor to Kensington and advised her that the King had died, have been additionally telling her that she had grow to be a monarch in her personal proper. The personal, emotional second of accession is loaded with pathos, lengthy earlier than the coronation itself – we’d like solely keep in mind the vignette of Queen Elizabeth I beneath the oak tree at Hatfield, quoting Psalm 118, as she discovered of her accession in 1558. Victoria had correctly discovered of her place within the British succession when her governess Baroness Lehzen positioned a genealogical desk earlier than her, which clearly confirmed that she adopted after her uncle, King William IV, after that she exclaimed: ‘I never saw that before… I see I am nearer to the throne than I thought’ and burst into tears. (Quoted in Christopher Hibbert, Queen Victoria, A Private Historical past, 29).

Princess Victoria was keen on her uncle William IV and Queen Adelaide; the Queen had doted on Victoria since she was a small youngster, calling her ‘MY DEAR LITTLE HEART’ in little letters as early as 1821 when Victoria was a mere two years previous, and she or he was nonetheless Duchess of Clarence. For Victoria’s third birthday, the Duchess wrote: ‘Uncle William and Aunt Adelaide send their love to dear little Victoria with their best wishes on her birthday, and hope that she will now become a very good Girl, being now three years old… Uncle William and Aunt Adelaide are very sorry to be absent on that day and not to see their dear, dear little Victoria…’ (Quoted in A. C. Benson and Viscount Esher, The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Choice of Her Majesty’s Correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861, pp. 31-32). That is all of the extra touching once we realise that the Duchess had herself misplaced her surviving baby, Princess Elizabeth of Clarence, on the age of three months in 1821. The Duchess had written a bit notice to Princess Victoria – maybe the earliest letter ever written to the longer term Queen to outlive – in Might 1821, a mere two months after the demise of her personal daughter: ‘MY DEAR LITTLE HEART, I hope you are well and don’t overlook Aunt Adelaide, who loves you so fondly. Loulou and Wilhelm want their like to you, and Uncle William additionally. God bless and protect you is the fixed prayer of your most really affectionate Aunt, Adelaide.’ (Quoted in Ibid, 31).

The younger Victoria was not unprepared for her accession, and we should suppose that she seen the approaching months of her uncle’s last sickness with a rising sense of the purport of what this may herald in her personal life. We will shortly collect from her journal entries for June 1837, that the King’s state of well being was steadily sinking. On 15 June 1837, Princess Victoria’s classes at Kensington Palace have been cancelled: ‘The news of the King are so very bad that all my lessons save the Dean’s are postpone…’ (Quoted in Kay Staniland, In Royal Style, pp. 97-98), together with to her specific remorse, her singing lesson with Luigi Lablache (whom she skilfully sketched): ‘the Doctors think my poor uncle the King cannot last more than 48 hours!’ (Quoted in Ibid Pg 98). There’s weight in phrases written by Princess Victoria to her (different) uncle, Leopold I, King of the Belgians, the next day; the tone of the letter is portentous: ‘You know, of course, dear Uncle, how very ill the King is; it may all be over at any moment, and yet may last a few days. Consequently, we have not been out anywhere in public since Tuesday, 6th, and since Wednesday all my lessons are stopped, as the news may arrive very suddenly…’ (Quoted in A.C Benson and Viscount Esher, 72). King Leopold replied from Laeken two days later, in a letter brimming with loving recommendation of for ‘what is to be done when the King ceases to live’, (Ibid, 72), however considerably, he addresses the letter in the beginning, as ‘My beloved Child’. While King Leopold had ever been – and would proceed to be – a father determine to the younger (and fatherless) Victoria, the letter is what it’s, recommendation to a soon-to-be fellow monarch, who with this in thoughts, nonetheless very a lot remained a toddler in his eyes.

Victoria’s reply to her uncle Leopold once more opens a window onto her personal emotions at this significant time. We should think about she wrote these strains from her desk at Kensington Palace, all too conscious that the regular decline of the King’s well being introduced her ever nearer to the second of her personal accession. On this level, she wrote to King Leopold explicitly, dated 19 June 1837: ‘I look forward to the event which it seems is likely to occur soon, with calmness and quietness; I am not alarmed at it…’ (Quoted in Ibid, 73). It’s clear what preceded this in her thoughts, as she wrote earlier within the letter: ‘The King’s state, I’ll pretty say, is hopeless. He might maybe linger a number of days, however he can’t recuperate finally… to-day he’s just a little higher… Poor previous man! I really feel sorry for him; he was all the time personally sort to me…’ (Ibid, 73). That night time, when informed of the King’s state, Princess Victoria burst into tears. (A. N. Wilson, Victoria, 74). Victoria was almost Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria receiving the information of her accession at Kensington Palace, 20 June 1837, after Henry Tanworth Wells (After Henry Tanworth Wells [United States Public domain or Public domain], by way of Wikimedia Commons)

The next morning, it lastly occurred, in Princess Victoria’s phrases: I used to be awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma, who informed me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham have been right here and wished to see me. I obtained away from bed and went into my sitting-room (solely in my dressing robe) and alone, and noticed them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no extra, and had expired at 12 minutes previous 2 this morning, and consequently that I’m Queen’. (Quoted in St Aubyn, pp. 55–57; Woodham-Smith, p. 138). The Duchess of Kent had adopted the Princess downstairs – the personal staircase nonetheless survives at Kensington Palace – accompanied by Baroness Lehzen, who held smelling salts. It was that celebrated second of her accession, so famously imagined by the artist Henry Tanworth Wells. Importantly, it was to King Leopold that Victoria sat down to put in writing to as Queen, as a result of she headed her letter (‘half-past eight AM’): ‘Dearest, most beloved Uncle, – Two words only, to tell you that my poor Uncle, the King, expired this morning at twelve minutes past two… Ever, my beloved Uncle, your devoted and attached Niece, Victoria R’. (Quoted in A.C. Benson and Viscount Esher, 74). To her beloved half-sister Princess Feodore, she signed herself, her ‘devoted attached Sister, V.R’. (Quoted in Hibbert, 54).

Queen Adelaide had remained together with her husband on his deathbed for some ten days. It seems that the King had begged his docs to by some means see him via one other anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June. (A. N. Wilson, Victoria, 73). He acquired the final Sacrament earlier than he died, within the presence of the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Conyngham and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Queen Adelaide wrote to Queen Victoria from Windsor the identical day: ‘My dearest Niece… I feel most grateful for your kind letter full of sympathy with my irreparable loss… I am, as you may suppose, deeply affected by all the sad scenes I have gone through lately… allow me to consider myself always as your Majesty’s most affectionate Good friend, Aunt, and Topic, Adelaide’. (Quoted in A. C Benson and Viscount Esher, pp. 74-75). The Lord Chamberlain and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s motion was symbolic of the swift shift of the crown; leaving the deathbed of the lifeless King, they set out instantly for Kensington, to the brand new Queen.

The Queen was notably attentive to her widowed aunt, of whom she was genuinely fond, providing condolence visits some two or three days afterwards, collectively together with her mom, the Duchess of Kent. Victoria was additionally sensitively involved that Queen Adelaide shouldn’t be known as ‘Her Majesty the Queen Dowager’ as a result of she wished to not trigger her aunt ache by altering how she referred to Queen Adelaide’s altered standing. Queen Victoria had ‘[begged] her [Queen Adelaide] to consult nothing but her own health and convenience, and to remain at Windsor just as long as she pleases’. (Charles Greville, The Greville Memoirs, 1814-1861, Vol III, 375). One of the crucial touching letters from Queen Adelaide was written to Queen Victoria from Windsor on 7 July 1837: ‘My dearest Niece, – I must, before I leave this dear Castle, once more express to you the grateful sense I entertain for the kind treatment I have experienced from you…’ (Quoted in A. C. Benson and Viscount Esher, 84).

Queen Victoria held her first Privy Council within the Pink Saloon at Kensington Palace, in a now rust-coloured gown, which was as soon as a black gown for mourning. This was in fact, completely pure that she ought to achieve this, as this was the instant mourning worn for the late King. This so-called ‘Privy Council Dress’ is preserved within the Royal Assortment and is believed to have been the gown worn by the brand new Queen on this event; a becoming remark maybe, that the Queen who ought to so come to represent mourning, ought to put on this on her accession, though on this, she was merely adhering to royal precedents. The ‘General Mourning for His Late Majesty King William the Fourth’ was introduced by the Lord Chamberlain’s Workplace, who was liable for these bulletins of courtroom mourning, which for girls of the courtroom would imply ‘black bombasines, plain muslin or long lawn linen, crape hoods, shamoy shoes and gloves and crape fans…’ (Staniland, 97). The black gown of the Privy Councillors was nicely captured within the portrait made by Sir David Wilkie – who had painted William IV within the Waterloo Chamber portrait – much less so, was his adherence to accuracy within the Queen’s case; he depicted her in white. The Queen disliked the image, not least for its false rendering of the reality, as she had worn a black gown. Together with her near-photographic reminiscence, she later declared it was one of many worst she had ever seen. (Hibbert, 54).

King William IV died within the Blue Room at Windsor Fort, the place in December 1861, Prince Albert would die, on the tragically untimely age of forty-two.

Victoria had grow to be in a single day – Victoria R.