May 1829 – Victoria’s Letters – Feodora to Victoria

An extract from a birthday letter to the 10-year-old Victoria from her beloved half sister Feodora, who had a year before moved from England to Germany to marry Ernest, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

…If I had wings and could fly like a bird, I should fly in at your window like the little robin to-day, and wish you many happy returns of the 24th and tell you how I love you, dearest sister, and how often I think of you and long to see you. I think if I were at once with you again I could not leave you so soon. I should wish to stay with you, and what would poor Ernest say if I were to leave him so long? He would perhaps try to fly after me, but I fear he could not get far; he is rather tall and heavy for flying. so do you see I have nothing left to do but to write to you, and wish you in this way all possible happiness and joy for this and many, many years to come. I hope you will spend a very merry birthday. how I wish to be with you, dearest Victorie, on that day!…

Source – Victoria’s letters, 2016
Featured Image – Princess Feodora

Advertisements

Victorian Recipes – Mrs Beetons Apple Crumble

Recipe
butter for greasing
675g / 1 ½ lb cooking apples
100g / 4 oz granulated sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
150 g / 5 oz plain flower
75 g / 3 oz caster sugar
1.25 ml / ¼ tsp ground ginger
Grease a 1-litre / 1 ¾-pint pie dish. set the oven at 180*c  / 350*F / gas 4. peel and core the apples. slice into a saucepan and add the granulated sugar and lemon rind. stir in 50 ml / 2 fl oz water, cover the pan and cook until the apples are soft. spoon the apple mixture into the prepared dish and set aside.
Put the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. add the caster sugar and ginger and stir well. sprinkle the mixture over the apples and press down lightly bake for 30-40 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.
Serves 6
source – The Best Of Mrs Beetons

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

 

24th May 1833 – Diary Entry – Victoria’s 14th Birthday

Extract from Queen Victoria’s diary, Friday 24th May 1833-

…To-day is my birthday. I am to-day fourteen years old! How very old!! I awoke at 1/2 past 5 and got up at 1/2 past 7. I received from Mamma a lovely hyacinth brooch and a china pen tray. From Uncle Leopold a very kind letter, also one from Aunt Louisa and sister Feodora…. At 1/2 past 2 came the Royal Family. The Queen gave me a pair of Diamond Earrings from the King. She herself gave me a brooch of turquoises and gold in the shape of a bow…. At 1/2 past 7 we went… to a Juvenile Ball that was given in honour of my birthday at St James’s by the King and Queen. We went into the Closet. Soon after, the doors were opened, and the King leading me went into the ball-room. Madame Bourdin was there as dancing-mistress. Victorie was also there, as well as many other children whom I knew…. I danced with my cousin George Cambridge, then with Prince George Lieven, then with Lord Brook, then with Lord March, then with Lord Athlone, then with Lord Fitzroy Lennox, then with Lord Emlyn. We then went to supper. It was 1/2 past 11; the King leading me again. I sat between the King and the Queen. We left supper soon. My health was drunk. I then danced one more quadrille with Lord Paget. I danced in all 8 quadrilles. We came home at 1/2 past 12. I was VERY much amused….

Notes – Victoria’s Uncle Leopold was her Mothers brother, and King of the Belgians. The Victorie mentioned is Victorie Conroy, Daughter of John Conroy (the Duchess of Kent’s comptroller). Victorie would have been a companion to Victoria as a child, but Victoria disliked her. George Cambridge was the son of Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, and was hoped by King William (and much of the British Royal Family) to eventually marry Victoria, but the match never happened.

 

Source – Kensington Palace Essential Tales, Historic Royal Palaces

Featured Image – painting of Victoria, 1833 by George Hayter

28th June 1838 – Diary Entry – The Coronation Of Queen Victoria

An extract from Queen Victoria’s Diary, 28th of June 1832

…At 10, I got into the State Coach with the Duchess of Sutherland & Lord Albemarle and we began our Progress. It was a fine day, & the crowds of people exceeded what I have ever seen, being even much greater than when I went to the City. There were millions of my loyal subjects, assembled in every spot, to witness the Procession. Their good humour & excessive loyalty was beyond everything. I really cannot say how proud I felt to be the Queen of such a nation. I was alarmed at times for fear the people would be crushed, in consequence of the tremendous rush & pressure. Reached the Abbey a little after ½ past 11, amidst deafening cheers. First went into a robing room, quite close to the entrance, where I met my 8 Train Bearers: Lady Caroline Lennox, Lady Adelaide Paget, Lady Mary Talbot, Lady Fanny Cowper, Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope, Lady Anne Fitzwilliam, Lady Mary Grimston, and Lady Louisa Jenkinson, all dressed alike & beautifully, in white satin, & silver tissue, with wreaths of silver wheat ears on the front of their hair & small ones of pink roses round the plait, behind. There were also trimmings of pink roses on the dresses. After putting on my Mantle, the young Ladies having properly got hold of it, & Lord Conyngham holding the ending of it, I left the Robing Room & the Procession started. The sight was splendid, the tiers of Peeresses, in their Robes, – quite beautiful, & the Peers on the opposite side. My young Train Bearers were always near me & helped me whenever I wanted anything. The Bishop of Durham stood on my one side, but never could tell me what was to take place. At the beginning of the Anthem, I retired with my Ladies & Train Bearers, into St. Edward’s Chapel, a small dark place, immediately behind the altar, took off my crimson Robe and Kirtle, & put on the Super Tunica of cloth of gold, also in the shape of a Kirtle, which went over a singular sort of little surplice of very fine linen trimmed with lace. I took off my Circlet of diamonds & proceeded bare headed, to the place before the altar, where I took my seat on St Edward’s Chair, & the Dalmatic Robe was clasped around me by the Lord Great Chamberlain. There followed all the various ceremonies, ending by the Crown being placed on my head, which I must own was the most beautiful, impressive moment. All the Peers & Peeresses put on their coronets, at the same instant. My excellent Lord Melbourne, who stood very close to me throughout the whole ceremony was quite overcome at this moment, & gave me such a kind, & I may say, fatherly look. The shouts, which were very great, the drums, the trumpets, the firing of the guns, – all at the same moment, rendered the spectacle most imposing…

Source – Queen Victoria’s Scrapbook Website

10th February 1840 – Queen Victoria’s Wedding Dress

As many people know, it is said that Victoria started the trend of wearing a white coloured dress on your wedding day. However, not many know  how complicated the journey was that had it come to be.

victoria painting

In the early of planning her wedding, Lord Melbourne suggested that she might wear her royal robes of state, as she mentions in her diary –

They talked about me wearing my robes, but I thought not.

She made it clear that her wedding was not like others of the time, where it was all for advancement and gain, with no thought of romantic preference. Her wedding was a personal affair; she was marrying for love.

shoes wedding

In the end, Victoria would design her own dress, as well as her bridesmaids’ dresses. She had her dress made entirely of British materials, as was well publicised at the time. This was a political move, as she was showing to foreign powers just what her country had to offer and that she was still representing Britain.  The silk was woven in Spitalfields, East London and the lace was handmade in Devon.  Finally, the outfit was sewed together by Victoria’s own dressmaker, a Mrs Bettans, with the pattern being destroyed afterwards to prevent the dress being replicated.

dailymail

 

The finished garment would include a bodice, the waist pointed over a full, pleated skirt with full puffed sleeves and a round neck, all made of Spitalfields white silk satin. The train was immense, measuring 18 feet and edged with orange blossom spays (orange blossom being a symbol of fertility). Orange blossom would feature a lot on her person, as her wreath above her veil (which was 12 feet long) was made of it and it trimmed her dress.  She also wore matching satin shoes (see two above), and a blue sapphire brooch at her breast which was a wedding gift from Albert. In her diary, on her wedding day of the tenth of February 1840, she described her whole outfit as thus –

I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch

Victoria did not wear her actual wedding dress for the whole day, as when she returned to Buckingham Palace after the service and wedding breakfast she withdrew to change into ‘a white silk gown trimmed with swansdown and a white bonnet with orange flowers’, an outfit very similar to her original ensemble.

Years later, Victoria would allow her favourite daughter Beatrice (who would be one of the queens few close companions in her widowhood) to wear her wedding veil at her own wedding in 1885 (see photograph below). She would be the only daughter of Victoria allowed this special privilege. In addition later still, Victoria would be buried wearing her lace veil, in 1901.

beatrice

 

Featured Image Emily Blunt as Victoria on her wedding day, The Young Victoria 2009

Sources –

Becoming Queen, Kate Williams

Historic Royal Places

Photograph #3 by Daily Mail