ON JUNE 26, 1830, King George IV clasped his doctor's hand and said,
"My boy, this is death."The reign of the flamboyant First Gentleman was over and with him an age was buried. The middle classes were to come into their own through reform and emancipation, and the Whigs came into power, representing the new mind of the country. The Duke of Kent's reactionary friends, who had remained loyal to the Duchess, since 1820, were now the political rulers. This sudden enjoyment of favor, coupled with the death of her old enemy, King George IV, had an unfortunate effect on the Duchess of Kent. The years of repression were over, it seemed, and she began to assert herself and to flaunt the importance of her daughter. Her husband's old friend, Conroy, was always at hand to encourage her in acts of defiance, especially against the amiable, ineffectual King, William IV, who lived and reigned long enough to complete the obsequies of the Hanoverians. He genuinely tried to make gestures of kindness to Princess Victoria, but the Duchess of Kent bristled at every sign of conciliation. She had been over-urgent and grasping when the subject of her allowance came up, and she was belligerent when the Regency Bill was before the House. Her mother had written, "I should have been very sorry if the Regency had been given into other hands than yours. It would not have been a just return for your constant devotion and care to your child." This thought was already lively in the Duchess's mind. When King William IV was crowned, she absented herself from London, pretending that Princess Victoria was ill. When she visited Windsor, she complained because the King's illegitimate son, by the actress, Mrs. Jordan, appeared at the breakfast table.
The effect of this wrangling on Princess Victoria might have been disastrous but for the secret sources of will and judgment that apparently made her wise beyond her years. Her mother insisted on a salute of guns whenever they landed from the Royal yacht, and she was so stubborn when asked to drop this pretence that an Order in Council was necessary to curb her folly. Greville wrote in his diary of the Duchess choosing "to set herself in opposition to the King," and said that he
"would like to have to deal with her impertinence for a little while."Finally, the King's amiability petered out and at a state dinner