A Palace or A Prison?

‘Even a palace can seem like a prison’,
these words were spoken by Emily Blunt in the film, The Young Victoria (2009).

Some how these words got me thinking about the life of a king or queen to be. What is life really like – a want for nothing or a longing for a moment’s peace?

Victoria (1819-1901) was only 18 when she became queen, in 1837.  Elizabeth II (1926- ) was 26 when she became queen, in 1952. Elizabeth and Victoria are two sovereigns, in history to date, to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. Elizabeth celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2012 and Victoria back in 1897.

Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert (1819-1861), of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Later in life, 1857, he was known as The Prince Consort. During their short time together they had 9 children: Victoria, Albert, Edward, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice. After Albert’s death in 1861 Victoria removed herself from public life. In the public eye Victoria was our queen, but behind closed doors she was just a person like everyone else with feelings and emotions. She had lost her one love, Albert. This is why it came as no surprise that she remained in mourning for the rest of her life until her death on 22nd January 1901.

A visit to Kensington Palace to see where Victoria was born, where she lived during her childhood and early adult life, feels like stepping back in time. Walking amongst the rooms and corridors, as she did once, I try to imagine how a beautiful palace could seem like a prison.

Kensington palace set in the most beautiful Kensington gardens. It has been in the British Royal family since the 17th Century. It is noted as one of the favoured homes for kings and queens in Britain. It would seem that William III (1689-1702) and Mary II (1689-94) were the first royal residents of Kensington House, as it was known then. They moved in just before Christmas in 1689.

Young Victoria
Young Victoria

Victoria was born at Kensington Palace. She then began life as a young princess perhaps unaware of her role in life to come. On June 20th 1837 she was woken early in the morning to the news of her accession to the throne. Her uncle William IV had died, and she was next in line to the throne. She moved to Buckingham Palace and served her country for 63 years until her death.

‘Victoria Revealed’, tells the story of a little girl who became queen at only 18. She held her first Privy Council meeting in Kensington Palace’s Red Saloon, wearing the gown pictured above.

Follow Victoria’s story from the room in which she spent her first moments as queen. Trace her journey from young girl to queen enthralled with a new husband, to grieving matriarch and ruler of a vast empire.

The exhibition includes iconic, impressive, beautiful and often deeply personal objects, from Victoria’s simple white silk wedding gown, to the dolls she made, dressed and named as a little girl.

The collection of costume on display is simply stunning. A Palace, perfect for a Princess!

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