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Prince Jean, Duke of Guise. Prince Philippe, Count of Paris. When they consider the future as destiny, lethargy and inertia set in. A wise person will consider the past as destiny and the future as free will. When you consider the past as destiny, no more questions are raised and the mind is at ease. And when you consider the future as free will you are filled with enthusiasm and dynamism. Consider the past as destiny, the future as free will and the present moment as Divinity. Victoria was alerted to the intention, and Albert and his brother Ernest were brought to Britain in May to be scrutinized.
Eager to frustrate the duchess of Kent's plans, King William IV favoured a match with Prince Alexander of Orange , and invited him to Britain with his brother also in May , but he was not a success with Victoria , and nothing more was heard of that match. Albert , on the other hand, came with the blessing of Uncle Leopold , and Victoria was more or less determined to find him pleasing. His physical attractions did much to outweigh his tendency to fall asleep during evening parties, and the cousins kept up a correspondence over the next few years. But the engagement which Albert had been led to expect was slow to materialize.
Once on the throne, Victoria relished her independence. Even the scandals of failed to persuade her that marriage was a solution to her difficulties. On 15 July ten days after Lady Flora's death she told Leopold that there was no prospect of her marrying Albert for at least two or three years: she had a ' great repugnance to change my present position' Letters , 1st ser. A visit from the Coburg brothers was nevertheless scheduled for the autumn, and on 10 October they arrived at Windsor.
Watching them arrive from the top of the stairs, Victoria fell in love. On 15 October she undertook the somewhat awkward task of proposing to Albert , saying 'it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wished to marry me ' ibid. Albert accepted.
Albert was far from a popular choice of consort. In some quarters he was viewed as a penniless foreign adventurer, coming to Britain to burden its taxpayers. Moreover, he was slightly younger than the queen, and part of the purpose of encouraging her marriage was to place the inexperienced, wilful girl under the tutelage of a more mature, masculine intellect. When the match was first raised with him, Melbourne objected on grounds of their consanguinity, adding 'Those Coburgs are not popular abroad; the Russians hate them.
Marriage changed everything for Victoria. Before the wedding, on 10 February in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace, she had been anxious to assert herself and her authority over her future husband. Albert was not permitted to select his own household apart from a few personal retainers ; his desire for an extended honeymoon in the country was rebuffed with a reminder that his wife had political duties in London; and in several ways Victoria made plain that politics were to be her preserve, not his.
Within two years Albert had moved from wielding the blotting paper on Victoria's official letters to dictating their content. He also changed her preference for the gaieties of London society to one for the relative rural quiet of Windsor, and was poised to remove from his wife's household the long-serving Baroness Lehzen whom he loathed and regarded as an evil, and countervailing, influence with his wife.
This transformation stemmed in part from Albert's determination to reshape his wife's character and to be the master in their relationship, and in part from Victoria embracing wholeheartedly the prevalent view of the correct relationship between the sexes, and especially between husband and wife: women were by nature inferior and dependent, and it was their duty to submit to and adore their husbands.
Indeed, Victoria frequently expressed her regret at the unnatural order within her own household, in which the accident of her birth and position denied Albert his rightful place at the head of all her affairs. Not that a submissive role came entirely easily. She was used to having her own way, and her fiery temper fitted uneasily with Albert's chilly rationality. There were frequent scenes: Albert preferred to deal with an argument by leaving the room, and the corridors could echo to the sound of his wife's fury.
Victoria soon became accustomed to finding herself in the wrong, and blamed herself bitterly for disputing with her husband. For his part, Albert keenly felt the anomalies of his position, and determined from the outset that although he could not officially assume the male role at the head of his family's public affairs, he would be master in his own house. Albert's dominance over Victoria became total; after his death she observed desolately that she had 'leant on him for all and everything—without whom I did nothing, moved not a finger, arranged not a print or photograph, didn't put on a gown or bonnet if he didn't approve it' Dearest Mama , This was the ideal of womanhood with a vengeance, and it was achieved by Albert breaking his wife's will.
If she challenged him, he responded by threatening to withdraw his affection or even on occasion to withdraw entirely from the relationship; Victoria would respond with abject submission. Albert's patriarchy was thus achieved by treating his wife as a wilful child in the evangelical tradition of child-rearing, the child's will had to be broken in order for it to be remade as a Christian : the 'Beloved Victoria ' of his letters before their marriage soon became 'Dear Child' or 'Dear Good, Little One'.
The fatherless Victoria all her life needed a strong, masculine figure to lean on. Albert was only too happy to oblige. But no doubts can be entertained about the depth of Victoria's passion for her husband. Albert made up for her childhood; he became her moral guide and teacher as well as her lover, companion, friend. She idolized him, worshipped him, and sang his praises to all who would listen.
He was 'my beloved Albert ', an 'Angel' constantly , a 'perfect being' Letters , 1st ser. The strong-willed, stubborn, curious, sociable Victoria , whose character had been forged by the Kensington system, was transformed within years of her marriage not without some difficulty and rebellion on her part into a personally and intellectually submissive, almost reclusive wife by Albert's patriarchal insecurity. She loved him; she was diminished by him.
If the transformation of Albert's position owed much to his wife's temperament, it owed as much to her fertility. Within weeks of their marriage Victoria was dismayed to find herself pregnant. Although the queen was blessed with an iron constitution and her pregnancies were generally physically easy, custom—and memories of the death of her cousin Princess Charlotte in childbirth—required that she be treated as an invalid for their duration.
She also suffered severely from what was later termed postnatal depression after the births of several of her children.
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It was during the weeks before the birth of their first child that Albert established himself de facto as the queen's private secretary she had no officially appointed private secretary until , and as a powerful, even dominant, voice in court politics. Victoria Adelaide was born on 21 November ; 'Never mind, the next will be a Prince', Victoria told her disappointed attendants Weintraub , The queen suffered no miscarriage or stillbirth, and all her children survived to adulthood, a situation unusual even among the Victorian upper classes.
Victoria herself had been breastfed by her mother; her own children were promptly put out to wet-nurses. Victoria , who dreaded childbirth, recognized the political as much as the personal inconvenience of numerous offspring.
The critics were in a minority. From the birth of the princess royal in the royal couple—now a royal family—were held up as an example of domestic felicity. The irony, however, was that although the Victorians placed a high premium on the role of the wife and mother in creating ideal family life, in the royal family this was Albert's province. They consciously took the decision that, in their home life at least, Albert would have the authority and rights of a traditional paterfamilias.
Hence it was he, not Victoria , who after some early arguments was the dominant voice in determining how the children were educated and brought up, who oversaw the modernization of the royal household managing servants was usually a female job , and who romped in the nursery with his children.
Victoria was by no means an archetypal Madonna-esque mamma, her world revolving around her children: she disliked small babies—'froglike', she thought—and children were a worry. Besides, they distracted her attention from Albert and, more importantly, they distracted Albert's attention from her. Being a wife ranked high above motherhood in Victoria's priorities, and she was jealous of anyone or anything that took his attention from her.
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She was lucky in Albert's utter uxoriousness: his care to avoid even the semblance of interest in other women pleased Victoria , while alienating him further from British aristocratic society and the royal household. The apocryphal story of the lady in the audience at a performance of Antony and Cleopatra turning to her companion and saying 'How unlike, how very unlike the home life of our own dear Queen' represents something fundamental about the impact of royal domesticity.
George IV and William IV in their private lives had been bywords for lechery and irregular marital affairs; Victoria and Albert were their diametric opposites. And as the sons of George III symbolized the excesses of aristocratic behaviour, so his granddaughter came to symbolize middle-class virtue, with her family life—notably painted by Landseer —at its heart. But although the queen shared some of the tastes and values of her most respectable subjects Lord Salisbury later declared that if he knew what the queen thought about an issue, he knew what the middle classes would think , and although in later life her deliberate shunning of the more ostentatious trappings of royalty made it easy to think of her as a bourgeois widow at the head of the family firm, she was in fact sui generis , one of a kind.
As Arthur Ponsonby put it, 'She bore no resemblance to an aristocratic English lady, she bore no resemblance to a wealthy middle-class Englishwoman, nor to any typical princess of a German court. Creating a suitable setting for this idyllic family life took up much royal energy in the s and s. Victoria had inherited three royal residences with the crown: Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Brighton Pavilion. All had disadvantages: Albert disliked London life, which made him ill; at Windsor there were no private grounds the public had admission to all the gardens and park, and the family were on constant display ; and the Brighton Pavilion was hedged in by suburban development.
Added to which, all three were, as crown property, under the control of the Office of Woods and Forests , which inhibited changes to the buildings that would make them suit their needs and taste. The need for a home of their own became pressing. The major role in imagining, designing, and executing the building of the royal houses most closely associated with Victoria —Balmoral Castle on Deeside in Aberdeenshire, and Osborne House, near Cowes on the Isle of Wight—was Albert's , with Victoria an uncritical admirer of his achievements. Albert's taste in matters architectural inevitably dominated: he, after all, had travelled, had been in Italy as well as his native Germany, while Victoria's experience, even of her own country, was limited to the tours Sir John Conroy had planned, and the childhood trips to the south coast for her health.
In September the royal couple made their first visit to Scotland, keeping great state in Edinburgh but not on the scale of George IV's famous Scottish jaunt of , and then visiting in slightly less state some grandees of the lowlands and southern highlands. It was, ' Albert says very German-looking' Leaves from the Journal , There could be no higher praise, and Victoria's love affair with Scotland, which long survived her husband, began.
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A summer cruise around the south coast and across to France and Belgium in reminded Victoria of her pleasant seaside holidays as a child, and she and Albert began to look for a seaside retreat. The Osborne estate near Cowes on the Isle of Wight was for sale, and after a preliminary visit in October they completed the purchase in November Even before this, Albert began an ambitious programme of building, and he and Victoria visited Osborne seven times in to familiarize themselves with their new home and to oversee progress on the building site. An Italianate palace replaced the original eighteenth-century Osborne House with remarkable speed: the old house was demolished in May , and Victoria and Albert moved in during September , although the building was not complete until Victoria was delighted with it: it offered distance from the annoyances of London and politics, privacy, serenity, space for family life.
More importantly, it was a 'place of one's own ' Letters , 1st ser. And it was all Albert's work: 'I get fonder and fonder of it, one is so quiet here, and everything is of interest, it being so completely my beloved one's creation—his delight and pride', she wrote Duchess of York , Victoria and Albert: Life at Osborne House , , Albert relaxed at Osborne, and occupied himself with estate improvement, building, and playing with the children while Victoria sketched and painted in watercolours and admired everything he did.
Courtiers and ministers were less enamoured of the domestic idyll on the island: there was no room in Osborne for a large entourage, and staff and courtiers were out-housed around the estate, while ministers found the distance from London inconvenient for the execution of public business. But the royal couple found that even a few miles of sea were insufficient protection from the intrusions of the curious and the demands of their position: Scotland called them.