Log in to rate programs.
A Glimpse at Life Beyond the Throne
It is estimated that throughout her life, Queen Victoria wrote an average of 2,500 words per day, having begun regular diary entries at the age of 13 and continuing until her death at 81. Now, with these entries recently being made public, we are afforded a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world’s most famous monarchs.Read More
A Glimpse at Life Beyond the Throne
Not only was Queen Victoria the second longest-reigning monarch in Britain (having only recently lost the top spot to Queen Elizabeth II), but she was perhaps the most prolific writer to ever sit on the throne. It’s estimated that throughout her life, Queen Victoria wrote an average of 2,500 words per day, with her regular diary entries beginning at the age of 13 and continuing until her death at 81. Now, with these entries recently being made public, we are afforded a behind-the-scenes look at the perspective one of the world’s most famous Monarchs.
All diary excerpts courtesy of The Royal Archives:
A 19-year-old Queen Victoria records her wedding to Prince Albert in her diary entry from 10 February 1840:
“…Had my hair dressed & the wreath of orange flowers put on my head. My wreath & veil were worn, according to the rough sketch. Saw my precious Albert alone, for the last time as my Bridegroom, & he fetched in Uncle & Ernest for a moment. At ½ past 12 I set off, dearest Albert having gone before, & Mama & the Duchess of Sutherland went with me in the carriage. I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch. I never saw such crowds as there were in the Park, & they cheered most enthusiastically. When I arrived at St. James’s Palace, I went into the Dressing room arranged for me, where my 12 young Train Bearers were waiting, dressed all in white with wreaths of white roses in their hair which had a very pretty effect. I waited a little while till Albert’s Procession had moved into the Chapel. I then went with my Train Bearers & Ladies into the Throne Room where my Procession reformed, Lord Melbourne, in his fine new Dress Coat, bearing the Sword of State, with Lord Uxbridge & Lord Belfast, on either side of him, walking immediately before me. Queen Anne’s Room was full of people, ranged on seats, one above the other, as also the Guard Room & all along the staircase, - all very friendly. The Procession looked beautiful going downstairs, & along part of the Colour Court, which was all covered in, & full of people, who were most cordial. The flourish of Trumpets ceased, as I entered the Chapel, when the organ began to play. At the altar on my right, stood my beloved Albert, Mama being on my left, as also Uncles Sussex & Cambridge & Aunt Augusta; on Albert’s right stood the Queen Dowager, then, Uncle Ernest, Ernest, Aunt Cambridge, with little Mary, George & Augusta & Princess Sophia Matilda. Lord Melbourne with the Sword of State, stood close to me. The Ceremony was very impressive & fine, yet simple, & I think ought to make an imperishable impression on everyone who promises at the altar to keep the vows he or she have made. Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felt so happy when he placed the ring on my finger. As soon as the Service was over, the Procession returned as it came, with the exception that dearest Albert led me out!...”
Queen Victoria, aged 32, describes one of her first experiences with Victorian machinery during The Great Exhibition of 1851:
“On this occasion, on 7 June, the Royal Family visited the Machinery section. …We went with Alexandrine, Ernest W., the little girls, &c, to the Exhibition. Went to the Machinery part where we remained 2 hours, & which is excessively interesting & instructive, & fills one with admiration for the greatness of man’s mind, which can devise & carry out such wonderful inventions, contributing to the welfare & comfort of the whole world. What used to be done by hand, & used to take months doing is now accomplished in a few instants by the most beautiful machinery. We saw 1st the cotton machines, from Oldham; - the whole process of cleansing & flattening out the raw wool, by which means it comes out white & soft, - crushing it, - combing & carding, - lengthening, - twisting it, - & then spinning it, all in numberless machines of different kinds. We also saw the method of constructing the burring & carding machines themselves, by introducing by means of machinery little wires into pieces of cloth, thickened by rubber, forming a very elastic substance. The whole process is wonderfully neat, for the holes are bored & the wires introduced one after the other, all in a second. This is a hand machine, but all the others are worked by steam. There is a new invention brought out by Mr. Donathorne of Bradford, for cleansing & combing out cotton, which is so important, that he got £25,000 for selling only the 4th of the patent. But, it would take too long to explain all the pieces of machinery we were shown…”
Queen Victoria, then 78-years-old, describes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London in this entry from 22 June 1897:
“A never to be forgotten day. No one ever I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those 6 miles of streets, including Constitution Hill. The crowds were quite indescribable & their enthusiasm truly marvellous & deeply touching. The cheering was quite deafening, & every face seemed to be filled with real joy. I was much moved & gratified…I started from the State Entrance in an open state landau, drawn by 8 creams, dear Alix, looking very pretty in lilac, & Lenchen, sitting opposite me. I felt a good deal agitated, & had been so all these days, for fear anything might be forgotten or go wrong. Bertie & George C. rode one on each side of the carriage, Arthur (who had charge of the whole military arrangements) a little in the rear...Before leaving I touched an electric button, by which I started a message which was telegraphed throughout the whole Empire. It was the following: ‘From my heart I thank my beloved people, may God bless them’. At this time the sun burst out. Vicky was in the carriage nearest to me, not being able to go in mine, as her rank as Empress prevented her sitting with her back to the horses, for I had to sit alone. Her carriage was drawn up by 4 blacks, richly caparisoned in red. We went up Constitution Hill & Piccadilly & there were seats right along the former, where my own servants & personal attendants, & members of the other Royal Households, the Chelsea Pensioners & the children of the Duke of York’s & Greenwich schools had seats. St James’ Street was beautifully decorated with festoons of flowers across the road, & many loyal inscriptions. Trafalgar Square was very striking & outside the National Gallery stands were erected for the House of Lords. The denseness of the crowds was immense, but the order maintained wonderful. The streets in the Strand are now quite wide, but one misses Temple Bar. Here, the Lord Mayor received me & presented the sword, which I touched. He then immediately mounted his horse, in his robes & galloped [sic] past bare headed carrying the sword, preceding my carriage accompanied by his Sheriffs. As we neared St Paul’s the Procession was often stopped, & the crowds broke out into singing “God Save The Queen”. In one house were assembled the survivors of the Charge of Balaclava. In front of the Cathedral, the scene was most impressive. All the Colonial troops, on foot, were drawn up round the Square. My carriage, surrounded by all the Royal Princes was drawn up close to the steps, where the Clergy were assembled, the Bishops, in rich copes, with their croziers, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury & the Bishop of London, each holding a very fine one. A Te Deum was sung, especially composed by Dr Martin, the Lord’s Prayer, most beautifully chanted, a special Jubilee prayer, & the benediction concluded the short service, preceded by the singing of the old 100th, in which everyone joined. ‘God Save The Queen’ was also sung…”