On the Sunday 23rd of May 1819 at about ten thirty pm, General Weatherall would receive a rushed note from his friend The Duke of Kent, informing him that his wife was going into labour. This is the very beginning of the life of Queen Victoria, who would reign for over 63 years.
In the weeks before the birth the Duchess of Kent, Victorie, had been stuffed into a carriage, 8 months pregnant, and driven across Europe (by her own husband in a bid to save money) to Kensington Palace via Dover, from the Kents’ home in Germany, Amborbach. This was because the Duke of Kent believed he had to ensure his child would be born in England so no rumor could effect her claim on the throne (so that officials could be present at the birth to confirm there was no impostor child smuggled in). However, the Duke could not afford to live in England and was drowning in debt. Thus, the rather bumpy journey for the Duchess began on the 28th of March, and they finally reached their faded, dusty rooms at Kensington Palace by the end of April.
By the 22nd of May, these rooms would be furnished with new drapes and furniture, especially in the room the Duchess would give birth in. A mahogany crib, a desk for the library, new red carpets, and more, but not for less than an immense two thousand pounds. The Duke had timed this well by the skin of his teeth, because the next day the Duchess’ labour pains would begin.
Among those witnesses assembled included the Duke of Wellington, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and many more. They could then confirm, after a labour of only six hours that at four fifteen in the morning of the 24th May, there was born a ‘pretty little Princess, as plump as a partridge‘. Both the Duchess and baby emerged healthy, as the Duke would later remark with relief. Not even the gender bothered him, as he wrote to his friend the Baron de Mallet –
‘ I have no choice between Boy and Girl and shall always feel grateful for whichever of the two is bestowed upon us, so long as the Mother’s health is preserved.’
As the Duchess of Kents mother said, ‘the English like Queens’.
The Young Victoria, Alison Plowden
Becoming Queen, Kate Willams
Kensington Palace Photograph By HRP