Victoria's private life
'The most noble of men'
As an eligible young royal, Victoria drew suitors from across Europe. Her uncle Leopold favoured her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. After his visit to Kensington Palace in 1836, Victoria wrote to her uncle of Albert’s kindness and goodness, as well as his 'pleasing and delightful exterior.' They played piano duets, attended the opera and even shared singing lessons. Victoria’s one criticism seems to have been of Albert’s lack of stamina for late-night socialising.
By the time Victoria and Albert met again in October 1839, these initial feelings of admiration had blossomed into love. Albert was 'perfection; perfection in every way.'
Five days after his arrival in England, Victoria proposed to him, and he accepted. Throughout their marriage, the intensity of their love seems never to have diminished. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was dealt an emotional blow from which she never truly recovered. She had lost her 'guardian angel, the best of husbands and the most noble of men.'
The 'grandmother' of Europe
Victoria and Albert had nine children in total, three of whom Victoria outlived.
Family disputes certainly arose – at times, the future Edward VII’s behaviour became a particular source of discord. Victoria remained a devoted and loving mother, who, through the encouragement of strategic marriages, spread her family’s influence throughout the royal households of Europe.
In 1897, the Duchess of Devonshire held a grand fancy dress ball in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. View the slideshow of the ball >
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