Monday, October 15, 2012

Victoria's Early Years - Kensington Palace.

Recently I visited Kensington Palace to see the King's Grand Staircase, commissioned by George I in the early 1700's. Kensington Palace is still home to royalty (when in London, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, stay there) and since the 17th century has been entwined with royalty: from William III to Princess Diana, from George II to Princess Victoria - and it is the link to Victoria that struck me as particularly interesting.
 
Kensington Palace's connection to Victoria is obvious as you approach the building; an imposing statue of the young Queen stands outside the east façade. The composition of Victoria in her coronation robes was designed by her daughter, Princess Louise, and unveiled in 1893. The statue is a fitting reminder that three key events in Victoria's life took place at Kensington Palace.

Princess Victoria is born.
At Kensington Palace on 24 May 1819 a princess, Victoria, was born to the Duchess of Kent. The infant Victoria grew up at Kensington and had a somewhat lonely childhood. Her father died before she was a year old, and Victoria was kept isolated, away from the excitement of court life and without friends of her own age to keep her company.

Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, along with an equerry, Sir John Conroy, oversaw her education. They devised "The Kensington System" -which ostensibly was to equip Victoria for her future role as queen - whilst some people muttered it was also a means of keeping the young princess firmly under their control. 

Kensington Palace.
 Victoria's Accession to the Throne.
At 6am on 20 June 1837, Victoria was woken by her mother.  The news was so urgent that the 18 year old Victoria donned her dressing gown to receive the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham. It was their grave duty to announce that the King was dead, and Princess Victoria was now Queen.

"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." 

That morning, the new queen held her first council meeting in the Red Saloon at Kensington Palace. This young woman was surrounded by much older men, including the Duke of Wellington and the Dukes of Sussex and Cumberland. The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne had written a short speech for her and despite the circumstances it was noted that Victoria handled everything:

"With perfect calmness and self-possession."

Statue of William III, outside Kensington Palace.
 Meeting Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
There are few people, who haven't heard of Victoria's love for her husband, Albert. But did you know that the couple first met at Kensington Palace?
On 18 May 1836, Victoria caught sight of her cousin Albert, and his brother Ernest, as she loitered on the stairs at Kensington Palace. Albert made a good impression, as recorded in her diary:

"Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same as mine' his eyes large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth."

 The visit went well and Victoria was delighted by the gift of a tame parrot. To encourage the romance, the Duchess of Kent threw a ball at Kensington at which Victoria and Albert danced until three in the morning. But time flew by all too quickly and when on Friday, 10 June, Albert departed Victoria wrote in her journal:

"I embraced both my dearest cousins most warmly, as also my dear Uncle. I cried bitterly, very bitterly…."

The rest of their courtship and marriage is, as they say, history!
Victoria was born, acceded to the throne and then found love at Kensington Palace - quite a legacy for a building still home to royals today!

Author- Grace Elliot ....and Widget.
 



Grace Elliot lives near London, where she works as a veterinarian. By night, Grace writes historical romance, much to the delight of her five cats - all vying for lap space. Her debut novel, ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ was described as “historical romance at it's best”, by The Romance Reviews.

To find out more about Grace and her novels, please visit:
http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Elliot/e/B004DP2NSU/ref=sr_tc_2_rm?qid=1320779346&sr=1-2-ent
 
or Grace's blog: Fall In Love With History:
http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com

or follow Grace on Twitter: @Grace_Elliot

Hope's Betrayal - click for link.



 

3 comments:

  1. It's interesting that you chose to write about the history of a place as opposed to the history of a person. What is your favorite historical time period?

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  2. Awesome post! I love me some british history & it brings back great and wonderful memories of when I lived there. One day I hope to move back, but until then I can live there vicariously through books, lol! I added this book & the first book to my amazon wishlist, I hope I get to it soon! Thanks for the post!
    -Novel Reveries

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  3. Queen Victoria was my greatest role module growing up, next to my my more touchable grandma, I loved her life story and read everything I could find on her. Kenningston Palace was always a place of fascination for my American imagination. :-)

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