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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Before Victoria: Princess Charlotte of Wales

Charlotte_Augusta_of_Wales.jpg

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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