You are at the top of the page

Skip to content or footer

Start of main content

Victoria: Woman and Crown

Meet the real woman behind the public monarch

Meet the real woman behind the public monarch

This major exhibition at Kensington Palace explored Queen Victoria’s private life behind her carefully-managed public image in Victoria: Woman and Crown.

The display was created to mark the 200th anniversary of Victoria's birth and re-examined how she balanced her role as a wife and mother with that of Queen of an expanding empire.

Top image: Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1856. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

The woman who defined the modern monarchy

Victoria learned that she was to become Queen when she was 18 years old, while still living at her childhood home of Kensington Palace. She held her first council meeting in the palace’s Red Saloon just a few hours later.

Victoria: Woman and Crown re-introduced Victoria as a young woman and explored her roles as a queen, wife, mother and empress.

Rare survivals from the Queen's private wardrobe – including a simple cotton petticoat and a pair of fashionable silver boots – provided a stark contrast to the black gowns she was so famous for wearing later in life.


24 May 2019 - 05 January 2020

Exhibition information

This exhibition is closed.

One of the rooms in the Victoria: Woman and Crown exhibition at Kensington Palace.
Victoria: Woman and Crown display
Victoria: Woman and Crown Room 2.

The display also explored Victoria's complex love affair with India, from the story behind the Koh-i-noor diamond to her friendship with the deposed Maharajah Duleep Singh.

Examples of Victoria's personal diaries carefully inscribed in Urdu formed a centrepiece of the exhibition.

Victoria: Woman and Crown Room 5.

With the death of her beloved husband Albert in 1861, Victoria adopted a wardrobe of black gowns as a potent and public symbol of her grief. Responding to this central theme of loss, a specially commissioned installation created by artist Jane Wildgoose titled In Sorrow Shut considered the enduring symbolism of Victoria’s widowhood.

This exhibition was created with support from the Art Fund and Farrow and Ball.

Installing Queen Victoria's petticoat

Conservator Viola Nicastro describes the process of getting Queen Victoria’s delicate petticoat ready for display.

"The measurements of the petticoat correspond almost exactly to the measurements of her wedding dress…"

Conservator Viola Nicastro describes the process of getting Queen Victoria’s delicate petticoat ready for display in this short film.

Read more

Community group exploring objects with HRP Curator, Polly Putnam, in the store at Hampton Court Palace as part of the community engagement project for the Victoria: Woman and Crown 2019 exhibition at Kensington Palace.

Blog: The Empress of India: a community engagement project

Learn how we worked with members of the local South Asian community to present a nuanced account of Queen Victoria, her reign and her title of Empress of India in the Victoria: Woman and Crown exhibition.


Queen Victoria

From pampered princess to elderly empress: wife, mother and queen

The story of Kensington Palace

An elegant retreat for Britain's royal family

A history of royal weddings

From Queen Victoria to the modern royals

Shop online

Shop Kensington Palace Jewellery

Treat yourself to timeless pearls and stylish sapphire jewellery inspired by the royals who have lived in Kensington Palace.

From £4.00

Shop Kensington Palace Gifts

These official gifts and souvenirs are all inspired by Kensington Palace's rich royal stories, past and present.

From £4.00

Shop Queen Victoria gifts

Exclusively designed for Historic Royal Palaces, our Queen Victoria gifts are inspired by iconic symbols from Queen Victoria's reign.

From £2.50