Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

II
A PLEASANT LIFE'

'If Melbourne ever left the room
her eyes followed him, and . . .
she sighed when he was gone.'

FOR ALL VICTORIA'S occasional withering disapproval and what Lady Paget called her 'commanding look, and for all the criticism levelled at her in the immediate aftermath of the Lady Flora Hastings affair, it was generally conceded that the Queen was a young woman of charm and character, self-willed and pertinacious admittedly but determined, as she confided to her journal, to do her utmost to fulfil her duty to her country. 'I am very young,' she wrote with unconscious pietism, 'and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure, that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have.'

Certainly she was relishing her new role as Queen and was scarcely in need of the sympathy expressed for the 'poor little Queen' by Thomas Carlyle who said that she could hardly be expected to choose a bonnet for herself let alone undertake a task 'from which an archangel might shrink'. 1 She said that sometimes when she woke up in the morning she was 'quite afraid that it should all be a dream'. It was such 'a pleasant life', she said. 'Everybody says that I am quite another person since I came to the throne,' she told Princess Feodora. I look and am so very well . . . I [lead] just the sort of life I like. I have a good deal of business to do, and all that does me a world of good.' 2

She had left Kensington Palace with mixed feelings: she had had days of great unhappiness there; but she had pleasing memories of it too, most

-85-

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Queen Victoria: A Personal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Author's Note and Acknowledgements xv
  • Queen Victoria's Prime Ministers xviii
  • Part One - 1819-1861 1
  • 1 - The Family 3
  • 2 - The Parents 9
  • 3 - The Child 17
  • 4 - Conroy 25
  • 5 - Progresses 30
  • 6 - Uncles 41
  • 7 - The Young Queen 53
  • 8 - Melbourne 60
  • 9 - Coronation 70
  • 10 - The Hastings Affair 76
  • II - A Pleasant Life' 85
  • 12 - A Headstrong Girl 90
  • 13 - German Cousins 98
  • 14 - Prince Albert 107
  • 15 - The Bridegroom 111
  • 16 - Honeymoon 120
  • 17 - Robert Peel 130
  • 18 - The Prince and the Household 137
  • 19 - Royal Quarrels 148
  • 20 - Osborne 157
  • 21 - Travelling 165
  • 22 - Balmoral 175
  • 23 - The Prince of Wales 183
  • 24 - Palmerston 193
  • 25 - Chartists 199
  • 26 - Pam is Out 204
  • 27 - The Great Exhibition 210
  • 28 - Scenes 216
  • 29 - Crimean War 221
  • 30 - Napoleon III 230
  • 31 - The Princess Royal 238
  • 32 - Indian Mutiny 248
  • 33 - The German Grandson 256
  • 34 - Death of the Duchess 264
  • 35 - The Disappointing Heir 268
  • 36 - Death of the Prince 276
  • Part Two - 1861-1901 283
  • 37 - The Grieving Widow 285
  • 38 - Seances and Services 293
  • 39 - Princess Alexandra 298
  • 40 - The Recluse 307
  • 41 - Disraeli 314
  • 42 - John Brown 321
  • 43 - The Royalty Question 331
  • 44 - The Princely Pauper 338
  • 45 - Typhoid Fever 342
  • 46 - Maids-Of-Honour 349
  • 47 - Secretaries and Ministers 353
  • 48 - Regina Et Imperatrix 360
  • 49 - The Half-Mad Firebrand 367
  • 50 - Golden Jubilee 379
  • 51 - Die EnglÄnderin 384
  • 52 - The Daughters 391
  • 53 - The Sons 396
  • 54 - The Grand Children 414
  • 55 - Would-Be Assassins 420
  • 56 - Holidays Abroad 428
  • 57 - Death of Brown 440
  • 58 - The Munshi 446
  • 59 - Diamond Jubilee 455
  • 60 - Life at Court 461
  • 61 - Dinner Parties 468
  • 62 - Books 477
  • 63 - Bookmen 481
  • 64 - Failing Health 484
  • 65 - Death 492
  • 66 - Funeral and Burial 495
  • References 503
  • Sources 523
  • Index 535
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