Princess Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819, and was awoken at 6:00 a.m. on June 20, 1837 to learn that her uncle, William IV, had died and she was queen of Great Britain. A huge responsibility for an 18 year old!
The exhibition is Victoria's story as a young girl, wife, mother, and monarch, told in her own words from letters, journals/diaries, and sketchbooks. Quotes are woven, stitched, or painted onto carpets, walls, tables and other surfaces.
The rooms are themed, and the exhibition begins in the Red Saloon where her first Privy Council meeting was held when she became Queen. Other rooms are Childhood and Family Life, Falling in Love, Duty and Work, and Mourning. The exhibition uses rooms where Victoria actually lived.
After becoming Queen she held court at Kensington Palace for three weeks, then on July 13th took up residence at Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace was never used as a sovereign residence after that.
~ Childhood and Family Life Room ~
Victoria grew up alone with her controlling mother at Kensington Palace, and later said she had a lonely and unhappy childhood. Despite her loneliness she had many interests and hobbies. Pictured below is her dollhouse for her large collection of wooden dolls.
~ Princess Victoria with her mother, Victoria, Duchess of Kent ~
Queen Victoria stated, "I was brought up very simply - never had a room to myself till I was nearly grown up - always slept in my Mother's room till I came to the Throne."
She enjoyed music, the opera, ballet, drawing [she was an amateur artist throughout her life], and horse riding. She had ponies, horses, and dogs, and her favorite pet was Dash, a King Charles Spaniel.
Below is a family tree in the Childhood and Family Life Room. Victoria was 16 when she first met Albert, who was her first cousin [her mother and his father were brother and sister]. They married in 1840 when she was 21 years old, and had nine children.
The quote of Victoria's on the wall reads: "God knows how willingly I would always live with my beloved Albert and our children in the quiet and retirement of private life."
~ There are numerous paintings of Victoria throughout the exhibition ~
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were very much in love. Below is what she wrote in her diary after first meeting him.
~ A fan that Albert gave to Queen Victoria ~
Queen Victoria's wedding gown is pictured below. She was very petite - barely 5 feet tall, and had a tiny waist. She began the tradition that most brides follow to this day - wearing a white dress.
~ Prince Albert's Wedding Attire ~
~ The royal couple were dressed to attend a 1842 ball in the painting below ~
~ Painting of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert riding together ~
Prince Albert died of typhoid fever at Windsor Castle in 1861. He was 42 years old. His death plunged Queen Victoria into overwhelming grief that she never got over. She wore black mourning clothes the rest of her life.
A mourning dress of Queen Victoria's with a 50 inch waist. Quite a change from the size of her wedding gown - nine pregnancies took their toll! ;-)
~ Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 ~
She died in 1901 at 82 years of age, reigning for almost 64 years. On September 9, 2015 her great-great granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, will surpass her as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
While it wasn't part of the exhibition, Queen Victoria liked tea, and held Afternoon Tea parties at Buckingham Palace. She introduced the English to the Russian custom of adding lemon to tea after visiting her daughter in Russia. Victoria sponge cake, often served at tea time in England, bears her name since sponge cake was a favorite of hers.
Tomorrow's post will be Kensington Palace, Part III - Fashion Rules, another palace exhibition featuring rare and exquisite dresses from 1960's thru 1990's worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret [her sister], and Diana, Princess of Wales. The post will conclude the Kensington Palace series with tea at the Orangery.