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The History Makers: Victoria and Albert

Unlike many royal marriages, Victoria and Albert’s union was a real-life love story. The happy couple idealised family life and championed educational reforms and new technology. Yet, as Lottie Goldfinch reveals, things weren’t quite as perfect as they were portrayed...

RULERS AND RIVALS

PICTURE PERFECT An idealised portrait by Sir Edwin Landseer depicts Victoria and her prince in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle
ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST/© HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II,2017/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES X1, GETTY X1

THE HISTORY MAKERS VICTORIA AND ALBERT

“ My dearest dearest dear Albert… and his excessive love and a ection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness, I never could have hoped to have felt before”, wrote Queen Victoria of her wedding night. “His beauty, his sweetness and gentleness… Oh! is was the happiest day of my life”, she continued ecstatically. Coming from a woman who, from the moment she had ascended the throne in 1837, had resisted all attempts to force her into wedlock – despite some of Europe’s most eligible bachelors being paraded before her – it was clear that marriage to Albert was borne out of love rather than duty.

Albert was Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in the present-day states of Bavaria and uringia in Germany. He was also Victoria’s first cousin, son of her mother’s brother, Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Despite being delivered by the same midwife within three months of each other, the pair had had little contact as children, yet each knew of their family’s desire to see them married one day.

A brief encounter at celebrations for Victoria’s 17th birthday in 1836 had planted the seeds of an attraction between the pair. She writes passionately in her diary of Albert’s “beautiful nose and… sweet mouth with fine teeth” as well as the “charm of his countenance”, which she describes as being “full of goodness and sweetness, and very clever and intelligent”. But Albert, unused to the late nights and whirl of fashionable gaieties of the English court was forced to leave several balls early, feeling sleepy and faint, leaving his lively young cousin to dance on into the night. Albert was one of several suitors introduced to Victoria in the months before she turned

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

Find out how close the King of England came to conquering medieval France, as we take a look at the Hundred Years' War. Was bad weather really to blame for the English defeat? Elsewhere, uncover the shocking true story of the Nazi spies who managed to infiltrate New York, and meet the man who inspired The Mummy villain, Imhotep. Plus, don't miss out on the FREE pull-out magazine inside, which investigates the 50 greatest mysteries in history - from the Stonehenge to the Princes in the Tower.