Before Victoria: Princess Charlotte of Wales

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Today is the 200th anniversary of the day Princess Charlotte of Wales died, changing the trajectory of British history and ushering Queen Victoria not only to the throne, but into existence. When I was younger and first becoming interested in the history of the British Royal Family, Princess Charlotte was one of my favorite figures. There’s something rather stunning about her story – from her likability in the face of her family’s unpopularity to her parents’ disastrous marriage to her own seemingly happy ending that was tragically cut short. Charlotte was born to become yet another one of the UK’s queen regnant and her death led to another. There are interesting parallels between Charlotte and Queen Victoria: both were headstrong women in leadership, both married men from Coburg and both were only children who grew up unnaturally alone. It seems fitting somehow that if history intended for Charlotte to be replaced then it was by another Hanoverian woman.

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The Courtship, Engagement & Wedding of Victoria & Albert

 

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Despite having read nearly every available biography of Queen Victoria in the early aughts, I realized when watching and recapping the new series based on her airing on PBS that it had actually been a few years since I had sat down and read a biography based solely on her. So this past week, that’s what I did.

And it was pretty fun – kind of like looking at a high school yearbook. The broad strokes have stayed with you, but you’re reminded of some of the smaller personal details that you know you once knew well.

Since today, February 10th, marks the anniversary of Victoria and Prince Albert’s 1840 wedding, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the real events behind their story. After all, though they would become one of history’s most famous couples, with Victoria remaining in intensive mourning for nearly 40 years after he died, their early years show two people very much figuring out how to live together, how to communicate, what the power dynamic was going to be and how they would raise their family. Like any young couple, except, you know, they did it in Buckingham Palace.

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