11th March 1830 – Victoria Learns She Is Heir To The Throne

Until she was eleven years old, Victoria had never been told that she was going to become Queen, although she might have guessed. As Victoria grew older, and less of a child however, the need to gently inform her of her great future became much discussed and pressured on Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.

In a meeting between the Duchess of Kent and Dr Blomfield on the 10th of March 1830, the Duchess confessed that she was at crossroads on how to break the news to Victoria. She claimed she had been hoping Victoria would ‘come to the knowledge by accident, in pursuing her education’. This accident was arranged to take place the very next day. A ‘chronological table’ (family tree) was placed conveniently inside Victoria’s history schoolbook for her to find.

The account of this extraordinary day comes from the Baroness Lehzen, Victoria’s beloved governess. However, her account was recorded 40 years later in a letter to Victoria herself,  and expectedly takes a good amount of dramatic licence. Below is an extract –

… I spoke to the Duchess of Kent about the necessity, that now, for the first time, Your Majesty ought to know Your place in the accession.  Her Royal Highness agreed with me and I put the chronological table into the historical book.  When Mr. Davys was gone, the Princess Victoria opened, as usual, the book again and seeing the additional paper said:- “I never saw that before”; “It was not thought necessary you should, Princess,” – I answered.- “I see, I am nearer to the Throne, than I thought”. – “So it is, Madam” I said. – After some moments the Princess resumed “Now – many a child would boast, but they don’t know the difficulty; there is much splendour, but there is more responsibility!” – the Princess having lifted up the forefinger of Her right hand, while she spoke, gave me that little hand saying “I will be good! I understand now, why you urged me so much to learn, even latin; my Cousins Augusta and Mary never did; but you told me, latin is the foundation of the English Grammar and of all the elegant expressions; and I learned it, as you wished it, but I understand all better now”; – and the Princess gave me again her hand, repeating: “I will be good!” – I then said: “But your Aunt Adelaide is still young and may have Children, and of course they would ascend the throne after their father William IV, and not you, Princess”. – The Princess answered: “And if it was so, I should never feel disappointed, for I know, by the love Aunt Adelaide bears me, how fond she is of Children!” – When Queen Adelaide lost Her second little Princess, She wrote to the Duchess of Kent: “My Children are dead, but yours lives, and She is mine too!”

  1. Victoria, remembering the incident well herself, corrected Lehzen, writing –

    I cried much on learning it and ever deplored this contingency’.

    As well as –

    ‘I always hoped she would have Children.’ (on her Aunt Adelaide)

    Nether the less, a mere 7 years later she would be Queen of England.

    Sources –

    Becoming Queen, Kate Williams

    The Young Victoria, Alison Plowden

    Queen Victoria’s Scrapbook Website

    Featured Image – Portrait of Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, 1830 by Richard  Westall

 

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