Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

12
'A HEADSTRONG GIRL'

'They wished to treat me like a girl,
but I will show them that I am Queen of England.'

HE WAS, SAID THE QUEEN, capable of 'every villainy'. She and Lord Melbourne were once again, on 21 January 1839, talking about Sir John Conroy. Melbourne had remarked, apropos of the man's intimacy with the Duchess of Kent, Princess Sophia and Lady Flora Hastings, not to mention his wife, 'What an amazing scape of a man he must have been to have kept three ladies at once in good humour.' 1

Conroy, that 'Devil incarnate', had been giving trouble ever since she had come to the throne. On the very morning of the late King's death, as Lord Melbourne came out of the Privy Council meeting, he was handed a paper listing the sacrifices Conroy had made, both professionally and financially, to serve the Duchess so selflessly and the conditions which he required before he could consider retirement: they were a peerage, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, and a pension of 3,000 a year. 2 'This is really too bad! Have you ever heard such impudence,' exclaimed

Lord Melbourne as the paper fell from his hands. 3 Soon, however, he came to agree with Baron Stockmar that the man's retirement was the I only measure' which might help to improve the Duchess of Kent's relationship with her daughter who was, indeed, prepared to promise almost anything to the dreadful fellow provided he left the country; and, since Conroy protested that he was far from content with the mere baronetcy accorded him, he was given an undertaking that, if Melbourne I should continue as her Majesty's adviser', he would be raised to an Irish peerage as soon as a new creation could be made. Melbourne had hoped

-90-

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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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