Richard Hough is a well-known naval historian. Mr. Hough was researching a book when he met Mountbatten, the great uncle of Prince Charles. He was commissioned to write authorized biographies of Mountbatten’s parents, Louis and Victoria. Hough was training in Los Angeles flying school in 1941 and celebrated his twenty-first birthday shooting down two German fighter-bombers. It was in 1947 he started his career in publishing, writing many children’s books and writing for the newspaper. Hough died at the age of seventy-seven, after writing more than ninety books, one of which was Victoria and Albert.
Born into a family filled with high-risk taking and great debt, Victoria was both the object of joy and anxiety. In Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819, Victoria was born to her parents Edward, the Duke of Kent and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg. This after six and a half hours of labor, Victoria was described as “a pretty little princess as plump as a partridge”. About one month later, June 24, Victoria was christened in the Cupola Room in Kensington Palace. The Prince Regent was her godfather while her Coburg grandmother was to be her godmother. The Prince Regent was to assign the name, but with a confusion taking place during the baptism, the Duke said, “Give her the mother’s name, but it cannot precede that of the Emperor.” And so Victoria was baptized under royal order as Alexandrina Victoria. In her childhood she was simply called Drina later choosing to be called Victoria.
At the time of her birth, Victoria was fifth in line to the throne after her uncles Prince Regent, Fredrick Duke of York, William Henry Duke of Clarence, and her father Edward Duke of Kent. Due to illegitimate children, it looked as if Victoria would succeed. The duchess insisted on feeding Victoria herself. This was not common during this time as usually a wet nurse fulfilled this task. This was a convenience and economic for the Duke and Duchess as money was an issue. A nursemaid was hired, Mrs. Brock, whom Victoria called “dear Boppy” when she could speak.
Due to her father’s death just seven months after her birth, her mother was very strict. Victoria was brought up in a simple manner. She never has a room to herself and always slept in her mother’s room until she came to the throne. At 8:00 a.m., Victoria would get up and have breakfast. She would then go for a walk or a ride in her pony cart. Following this time, she would start her lessons which mainly consisted of drawing, something she loved to do. Lunch would be after playing games or dolls with her mother and it is then believed that she would have a “lie down” or nap being four or five years old. As Victoria aged, John Conroy, who was teaching her basic lessons, hired a professional teacher, Reverend George Davys. He was her teacher until the age of twelve. Victoria’s best friend was her step-sister, Feodora, whom she got along well with for many hours. Victoria’s mom was very much apart of her daily routine as security was love and the duchess was afraid of kidnapping. Victoria only had two friends while growing up and they were in her immediate family due to this fear of her mother’s.
Victoria had fair skin, curly hair, a poised head, bright blue eyes, dimpled cheeks, protruding chin, tiny pudgy hands and very small feet. Even at the age of seven she had an air of authority around her as if she was in training, but no one knew for sure if she would be crowned Queen of England. At about nine or ten, Victoria was conscious of her status in society. Many people would take their hats off to her when greeting her. Even in her playing habits it was noticed that she demanded friends not call her by her first name, but she was allowed to call them by their name.
Victoria had a great fear of bishops, but this was partially cured when the Bishop of Salisbury let her play with his badge of Chancellor of the Order of the Garter. It was not until Victoria was sixteen that it became clear that she would succeed King William IV as monarch to the throne. On Victoria’s seventeenth birthday, it brought her one year closer to the qualifying age of succession; while William IV’s health was very poor at this time as well. Also during this time, Victoria was looking for a prince to call a husband. While there were the two sons of the Prince of Orange, the Duke of Ernest and Albert from Germany, Victoria decided on none at this immediate time. Victoria met Albert in May 1836. On June 20, 1837, Victoria was crowned queen, and in July she moved from Kensington Palace to Buckingham Palace. A year and eight days later, June 28, 1838, Victoria was crowned. In October 1839, Albert came again to visit the new Queen Victoria. Five days after on October 15, 1839, Victoria proposed to Albert who accepted. On February 10, 1840, Queen Victoria and Albert were married. Even though she married her cousin, their relationship was one of great love and admiration. In the same year of 1840, Queen Victoria and Albert had their first of nine children on November 21st. It was Prince Victoria, or “Vicky”. Following came: Prince of Wales, “Bertie”; Princess Alice, Prince Leopold and finally on April 14, 1857 Princess Beatrice, the last one born. Together this was four sons and five daughters.
Before marriage, Queen Victoria was very influenced by Lord Melbourne. After, Prince Albert became the dominant male influence. She was very devoted to him and did nothing without his approval. Albert assisted in royal duties and enforced behavior. He also gave more conservative aspect to Victoria’s politics. Even with this much influence over Queen Victoria, the general public did not accept the German prince. Finally after seventeen years of marriage, he was named Prince Consort. In 1851, he organized the Crystal Palace Exhibition. This was an industrial convention held in Hyde Park. The showpiece was the Crystal Palace and the exhibits were inside. This was very profitable and Albert purchased lands in Kensington for several cultural and industrial museums.
This event was very stressful for Albert and on December 14, 1861 he died from typhoid fever. Queen Victoria remained in seclusion for ten years and this obsessive mourning was with her the rest of her life. In 1876, she crowned Empress of India by Disraeli and in 1887 there was a Grand National celebration for her 50th year as Queen. Victoria’s long reign came to an end when she died on January 22, 1901 at the age of eight-one.
This book by Richard Hough is written very well. It provided excellent detail and uses passages from other sources to really let the reader know how Victoria was feeling or thinking at the time. One could know it was a good source by the bibliography and index in the back. Not only would I recommend this book for research, but also for pleasure reading. This book tells the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as opposed to presenting fact after fact. This informative, easy to follow is one any individual could enjoy.