Photo credit: Alex Ellinghausen
Drawing on new sources from the Royal Archives, Victoria: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire
tells the story of a Victoria we have never known before: a woman who struggled with so many of the things we do today: balancing work and family, raising children, navigating marital strife, losing parents, combating anxiety and self-doubt, finding an identity, searching for meaning.
At 20, she fell passionately in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, eventually giving birth to nine children. While Victoria and Albert’s relationship is remembered as monumental, there is much about their relationship that you may not know…
1. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were very much in love
, which she mentions throughout her diaries. Unlike other royal arranged marriages, Victoria chose Albert based on her own affection for him.
“He seems perfection
, and I think that I have the prospect of very great happiness before me. I love him MORE than I can say…”
— Victoria in a letter to her uncle Leopold
2. After their wedding, Prince Albert had a tough time coming to terms with his wife having greater power than he did.
His fundamental belief was that women were not meant to rule:
“…the difficulty of filling my place with proper dignity is that I am only the husband, and not the master in this house.”
— Albert in a letter to a friend
3. Victoria was always self-conscious about her own lack of education.
Albert instilled a curiosity in Victoria about technology and knowledge; she was always impressed by these qualities in him, which gave way to The Great Exhibition of 1851, for example.
4. Albert, who was originally from Germany, initially struggled to be accepted in England and by Queen Victoria’s family.
Victoria was furious by this, and eventually insisted that Parliament name him Prince Consort.
5. Albert felt threatened by Victoria’s closeness to Lord Melbourne
, the first prime minister of her reign, whom she often listened to over Albert’s own suggestions. He knew he would have no power with her while Lord Melbourne was around.
6. Victoria was nearly obsessive about preserving Albert’s legacy.
Two decades after Albert’s death, Victoria was still erecting statues of him throughout England, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is a testament to their love still today.
÷ ÷ ÷
is a journalist, broadcaster, and author based in Sydney, Australia. She is a columnist for the International New York Times
and host of The Drum
on ABC TV (Australia). Her writing has appeared in Newsweek
, The New York Times
, The Philadelphia Inquirer
, The Guardian
, The Washington Post
, The Sydney Morning Herald
, The Monthly
, and Harper’s Bazaar
. She has a PhD in history from the University of Sydney. In 2005, Baird was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. Victoria: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire
is her first book.