When Kensington Palace Was a Prison: The Upbringing of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria (1819-1901), when Princess

On January 23, 1820 Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent, died prematurely at the age of 52. He was followed to the grave just six days later by his father, George III, who had been mentally incapacitated for years. At just seven months old, the then-Princess Victoria of Kent became third-in-line to the throne following her uncles, King George IV and Princes Frederick, Duke of York and William, the Duke of Clarence. All three were childless.

Her mother, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, found herself at the age of 34 twice-widowed and the mother of three children, one of whom she was responsible for molding into a future British monarch. She herself was German – indeed, at the time of her second husband’s death she had not yet fully mastered the English language.

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The (Very) Quiet Rebellion of George & Charlotte

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We’ve covered almost all of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz’s children, but we’ve paid very little attention to the Queen herself. Thanks to her children and her famous granddaughter, Queen Victoria, Charlotte is best-known in history as an aging matriarch, emblematic of the phrase, “Misery loves company.” But when you consider the role of her marriage in her life, it allows room for greater empathy when considering the often strident role she took in the lives of her adult children later on.

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Caroline of Ansbach Before Britain

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The last time we touched on Caroline of Ansbach we were covering her and her husband’s horrific relationship with their eldest son, Prince Frederick of Wales. It’s a period of time in which Caroline is hardly shown in a positive light, but what makes this particular queen so difficult is that when you set that relationship aside, she was an incredibly compelling woman with any number of admirable qualities. Today, we’re going to cover her life leading up 1714, when her father-in-law, George I, ascended the British throne.

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Queen Victoria’s Father: Edward, Duke of Kent

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Of all of George III’s 15 children, only one managed to produce another sovereign – Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent. Save the last 18 months of his life, very little would give you the idea he had either the motivation or capability of doing so and, indeed, it is perhaps for the best (albeit tragic) that he never had the opportunity to mold the character of his more famous daughter.

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All That Gossip: Queen Victoria & Lord M

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As we find ourselves in the middle of the second season of Victoria, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at Queen Victoria’s relationship with her first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. The ITV/PBS show has depicted a dynamic in which the young queen was in love with her PM – at one point even proposing marriage. And by all appearances, the affection was mutual, at least on our television screens. The reality was obviously by far different, but this storyline is grounded in a kernel of truth – the relationship between the two always prompted some raised eyebrows.

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The Independent Beauty: Mary, Duchess of Gloucester

(c) Pembroke College, Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Like all the daughters of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Princess Mary’s life was a little bit tragic and a little bit mundane. Born in April 1776, Mary was the first of her parents’ children to arrive in the middle of the American Revolution. Ten other children preceded her in the royal nursery, but few of them would be able to match Mary in confidence or spirit, both of which may very well have stemmed from the fact she was early on considered the most attractive of her siblings.

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George II & Caroline of Ansbach’s Hatred for Their Eldest Son

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Few dynamics within the Royal Family are as strange as that between the monarch and heir. Never was this more abundantly clear than when George I came over from Germany in 1714 and established the House of Hanover. From that day on, a reliable tension has nearly always existed and arguably strains of it have been felt as late as the 20th century. To-date, the most chilling example of it has to be the relationship between George II and Caroline of Ansbach with their eldest son, Frederick, the Prince of Wales.

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The Sussex Marriages

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As all bets indicate that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they marry this May, it seems as good a time as any to look at the last prince to hold this title and the two rather memorable marriages he made. To-date this title has only had one creation, though its second has garnered speculation for years. There was discussion when the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, became engaged that the title would be bestowed on him at his wedding, and it came up again in the lead up to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, but the best intel has always said it was long ago set aside as Harry’s.

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Maria Fitzherbert, George IV’s Catholic Wife

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Before George IV married Caroline of Brunswick and embarked on one of the most disastrous and humiliating royal matches in British history, he took another wife, one of his own choosing. The problem was that she was Catholic, and not of the Stuart variety, but rather a nice Englishwoman who was only noble adjacent. Neither her social position nor her financial situation made her a viable contender for a royal marriage, and the prince who fell in love with her was none other than the heir to the throne.

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The Death of Prince Albert

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Irony of ironies, but the very date that Queen Victoria branded a bad omen and which holds a very fraught history within the Royal Family is in fact my birthday: December 14. I’ve never known quite what to make of that, especially since Queen Victoria was the first British monarch I took a particular interest in. But there’s a reason she hated the day – and a few reasons why she became quite superstitious about it – her husband died on December 14, plunging her into a 40-year widowhood at the age of 42.

Not only that but 10 years later, her eldest son nearly died of the same disease (Typhoid) on the very same day – when the 14th rolled around, however, he miraculously began to recover. Seven years after that, Princess Alice became the first  of Victoria’s children to die on, you guessed it, December 14, 1978. Even as late as 1895 the date had resonance – Mary of Teck, then Duchess of York, gave birth to her second son on December 14th of that year and her husband was afraid to tell the Queen lest she be somehow offended. She wasn’t, but she did note his birth date was “unfortunate.”

So, on this most unfortunate of days, but one on which I get to eat cake and open presents, let’s go back to the OG and take a look at Prince Albert’s death.

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