Women Who Ruled: Queen Victoria, part 13

The 1861 death of her 42 year old husband shook Queen Victoria deeply. In that era mourning was a formal affair, with different degrees of mourning based on intimacy of relationship and time passed since the death. Victoria went into full mourning, and never ceased to wear mourning black for the remaining forty years of her life. Among other things this communicated clearly her intention to never remarry. 

Although Albert had asked that no memorials be erected in his honor, the grief stricken queen and a public which had loved him could not follow this request. Libraries, colleges, theaters, and memorials were built in his honor. The queen commissioned biographies of her late husband, and reserved final editing approval. He was eulogized endlessly. 

The two decades Victoria shared with Albert were arguably the happiest of her life, and she fell into a deep depression at his passing. While she continued to carry out her official duties behind the scenes, she had no will for public appearances. By 1864 her declining popularity, and ther nation’s rising republican sentiment, alarmed her uncle King Leopold of Belgium. At his urging she began taking carriage rides through London and at the Royal Horticultural Center in Kensington, where she’d been raised. 

In 1878, on the anniversary of her beloved Albert’s death, Victoria’s third child and second daughter Alice died of diphtheria at 35 years of age. Victoria turned 60 the year, and felt old and defeated. She had no inkling then she’d live another twenty-two years. She had attempted to abdicate the throne five times in the months preceding, so tired of it all she was. 

Queen Victoria became a great a grandmother in 1879 with the birth of Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen, daughter of Princess Charlotte of Prussia, daughter of Victoria’s eldest child, Victoria, Princess Royal. Princess Charlotte was a bright, sparkling socialite who hated pregnancy and announced she’d not be repeating the experience. Victoria was sorely disappointed, not having liked pregnancy any better yet having put herself through it nine times all the same. 

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