Queen and Working Mother

By Baird, Julia | Newsweek, January 25, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Queen and Working Mother


Baird, Julia, Newsweek


Byline: Julia Baird

Victoria was both dutiful and angry.

Queen Victoria loathed being pregnant. She felt more like a pig or cow than a queen, she said, which was unfortunate, given that she had nine children. As several of her relatives had died while giving birth, she was also, quite rationally, terrified of labor. She was given chloroform for her last two births, to her great delight. Until then the use of anesthetics for women in labor had been vehemently opposed by priests on the grounds that women should suffer for original sin, and prominent doctors because they believed it aroused women's libidos. But when the respectable reigning monarch happily inhaled deep breaths from a cloth soaked with chloroform, every 10 minutes, at the birth of her son Leopold in 1853, it soon became acceptable. Oh, how she would have loved an epidural.

With the release of the movie The Young Victoria, starring a luscious and almost credible Emily Blunt, about the relationship between Britain's stout, steely monarch and her husband, Prince Albert, as well as a biography, We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals, by Gillian Gill, there has been renewed interest in the romantic life of the woman who ruled the British Empire for 64 years. Much of the literature about Victoria has focused on her relationship with her German husband. Theirs was one of the greatest partnerships--certainly one of the most fruitful and stable--in political history. When the two are depicted meeting and falling in love, we see the fairy tale. What the film skips over is what Victoria called the "shadow side" of marriage: reproduction.

Historians have long been reluctant to recognize that Queen Victoria was not just a monarch but one of the most prominent working mothers in history--one who was both deeply in love with her husband and resentful of the demands on her as a mother and a wife. She became queen when she was only 18, and while she made some foolish mistakes, she was greatly admired for her confidence, her calm authority, her conscientiousness, and what Privy Council clerk Charles Greville called her "great animal spirits." She confided in Prime Minister Lord Melbourne that she had no desire to get married. The "beautiful" Albert changed her mind, and before long she fell pregnant--again and again.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Queen and Working Mother
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?