The Kensington System

The Kensington System

A self-portait of Princess Victoria

As a princess growing up at Kensington Palace, Victoria was brought up very strictly

The Kensington System

On the death of George IV in 1830, the young Victoria became next in line to the throne. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her ambitious adviser, Sir John Conroy, sought to protect and enhance their power by keeping Victoria under their control.

A portrait of the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria (c The Royal Collection)Their rigid set of rules became known as The Kensington System. Victoria was never allowed out of the sight of an adult – she was always supervised by her mother, one of her tutors, or her governess, Baroness Lehzen.

She was rarely allowed to meet other children, with the exception of Conroy’s daughters and her own half-sister, Feodora, who married and moved away from Kensington when Victoria was nine. Victoria even had to sleep in the same room as her mother until she became queen.

Thinking back to these times Victoria recalled that she 'led a very unhappy life as a child… and did not know what a happy domestic life was!'

'The Monster'

A sketch of Baroness Lehzen (c The Royal Collection)Victoria loved her governess, Baroness Lehzen, very much. She valued her loyalty and devotion, and always felt that she had her best interests at heart. However, she grew to despise Sir John Conroy for his scheming ways and the influence he had over her mother. She would later refer to him as 'the Monster and Demon incarnate.'

Once Victoria became queen she made sure that Conroy’s influence was controlled, and eventually, in 1840, he was encouraged to move to Italy.

Entrance to the exhibition is included in your Kensington Palace admission ticket and is free for members. Find out more >

You may also be interested in...