|Painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter - 1846|
On a trip to Barnes and Noble I tried to buy Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey. I found the book on a shelf, read about 10 pages, but desiring to read the best bio on the subject, I waited a beat before heading to the cash register; instead, I went home to google some book reviews. After reading favorable reviews (one by The New York Times), I returned to the store 3 hours later to buy it.
Surprise, somebody else bought my book! What are the odds? A manuscript published in 1921 about a 19th century British monarch, who died in 1901! Are those flying off the shelves? I couldn't believe my eyes. So I returned home empty handed.
Not to be defeated, I looked online to find it as a free audiobook -- the publication is in the public domain. Nice! You can listen to it here.
Interesting bio on several levels. Queen Victoria was 3/4 German, born in England; Albert was her first cousin. Marriage is challenging, including happy ones. Ambition and power are fascinating, even if people who desire and acquire it, are virtuous and well-intended. Emigrating from Saxe-Coburg, Germany to England came with issues. Moreover, I can tell you this from a lifetime of personal experience: Germans are complicated, if seldom dull. You must be strong, well-informed and laser-focused to stand up to them!
|Queen Victoria, age 25 with her oldest child, Vicky (Victoria, the Princess Royal) in 1844|
How fortunate to find the above, age-twenty-something photos of Albert and Victoria. We get to see the handsome face that won Victoria's heart, and have a glimpse of them as a young couple.
|1854 - Married 14 years|
After marriage, Victoria lost a bit of her independence and perhaps herself. As Albert was a 19th century man, she was a 19th century woman, who deferred to her husband over their 21 years of marriage. They had nine children. But, the bottom line is: Queen Victoria adored Albert throughout her life; and despite the tensions and compromises of their marriage, they were in sync, and he made her happy. Overall, they seemed right for each other. It was a love match.
Prince Albert died on December 14, 1861 and Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901.
The miniseries starring Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes.
I recommend watching Queen Victoria, the miniseries. Season one was faithful to history; and the charismatic cast is brilliant at fleshing out the historical figures.
By the way, I adore their plush, royal bed (below), where they have their talks and come to love and understand each other.
Next I'm reading: Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird and Uncrowned King: The Life of Prince Albert by Stanley Weintraub, while I wait for the television series to resume later this year. After these books I will probably have my literary fill of strong-willed Germans.😊
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