Meetings that made history: When Queen Victoria met Prince Albert
Television viewers have been enthralled by the dramatised account of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s marriage in the ITV series, Victoria. It has left fans wondering if the screenplay is true-to-life in its depiction of their romance.
The TV series showed the royal couple enjoying a romantic courtship, leading to a happy marriage in 1840. Their loving relationship ended tragically when Prince Albert died, at the age of only 42, of suspected typhoid fever.
Historians say the drama is factual in many ways. In particular, Victoria was said to be truly and deeply in love with her husband, as was proven by the personal diaries she wrote for many years.
However, the scriptwriters appear to have invented the idea that Victoria didn’t particularly like Albert when they first met. On the contrary, in reality, she seemed to think they were meant for each other from the outset.
How did they meet?
When Queen Victoria met Prince Albert, it was through their family ties, as they were cousins. Victoria’s mother was the Duchess of Kent, alias Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Albert’s father was the Duchess of Kent’s brother, Ernest I, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
This meant Albert and Victoria were actually first cousins. Although marrying your first cousin isn’t a popular thing to do in modern society, it isn’t illegal and it has been a regular practice among royalty throughout history. It has assured strong alliances among the royals for hundreds of years.
In real life, the pair met in 1836, when they were both 17 years old. It was one year before Victoria ascended to the throne. The TV series implied they had met when they were children and hadn’t seen each other for years, before meeting again as teenagers, but historians say they hadn’t ever met before 1836.
In an entry in Victoria’s diary, written after their first meeting, she admitted to feeling attracted to him, describing him as “extremely handsome”, with big blue eyes, “fine teeth” and a “delightful” expression.
Who proposed marriage?
The idea of a future marriage between Albert and Victoria was first mentioned in a letter from his paternal grandmother, written in 1821, when they were both only two years old! Their respective parents also wanted them to marry, as it was a good match.
When Victoria and Albert grew up, there seemed to be no objections on either side. Later, Victoria wrote to her uncle, thanking him for the “great happiness” he had given her by matchmaking her with “dear Albert”. She added he possessed every quality that made her “perfectly happy” and described him as “kind, sensible, good and amiable”.
In fact, it was Victoria who proposed to Albert on 15th October 1839. She wrote in her diary that she told Albert he “must be aware” why she had invited him to visit her. She said it would make her happy if he would consent to her proposal. He said yes and they embraced. Victoria wrote how she was “loved by an angel”. They were married in the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace on 10th February 1840.
How strong was their relationship?
Victoria and Albert enjoyed a close and loving relationship for 21 years. While Victoria’s diaries made her feelings abundantly clear, Albert reciprocated her love. When he had to go to Germany for a short period, he wrote, “All my thoughts have been with you at Windsor.”
He was very romantic, writing to his wife, “Your image fills my whole soul,” and admitting that even in his wildest dreams, he had never imagined he would find “so much love”.
While it was documented that Victoria was prone to mood swings and had been known to have tantrums, Albert knew how to get back in her good books. She called him her “angel” and was proud of his achievements, including launching the Great Exhibition in 1851 at London’s Hyde Park.
Their relationship came to a tragic end when Albert died of suspected typhoid fever in 1861. The queen was devastated. In a letter to her eldest daughter, she spoke of how she had leaned on Albert for everything and wondered how she could go on and live without him.
The queen went into deep mourning and ordered royal courtiers to wear mourning attire for the next three years. She banned them from wearing any adornments except mourning jewellery. This was traditionally made of black jet or for the less wealthy, other materials that mimicked jet, such as black garnet and glass.
Queen Victoria never met anyone else who matched up to her beloved Prince Albert, the love of her life. She died a widow in 1901, at the age of 81.
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