Saturday, April 7, 2012

Queen Victoria Regina, HRH Prince Albert & John Brown

I have a love for all things Royal.
Maybe it comes from the English blood pulsing through my veins,
or maybe it comes from all those sparkling JEWELS, but one thing is
certain... if it involves English Royalty, I want to know MORE!

The story of Queen Victoria & the two great
loves of her life, is undoubtedly one of my favorites. 
Alexandrina Victoria was born in 1819, the only child of Prince Edward,
Duke of Kent & the German born Princess Victoria of  Saxe~Colburg.

At the time of her birth, she was 5th in line to the throne after King George.
In front of her was her father & his 3 older brothers, the Prince Regent,
the Duke of York & the Duke of Clarence. With all those powerful
men in line a head of her, who could imagine this little princess
would one day be Queen of England.

The Prince Regent & the Duke of York had no heirs, the Duke of Clarence
had two legitimate daughters, but both died as infants. {he also had 11
illegitimate children with his mistress Mrs. Jordan} Soooooo, after
the death of the King & her father in 1820 & her 2 other uncles,
in 1837, at the age of 18, Princess Victoria became Queen.
This was the official beginning of the 'Victorian Era'.

Being a single, 18 year old Queen, finding her a suitable husband
was of up most importance. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, whom
Victoria was not very fond of, presented her with several suitors,
but only one caught Queen Victoria's eye, her first cousin Prince
Albert of Saxe~Colburg & Gotha.

Victoria's mother & Albert's father were siblings. This practice of
marrying so closely into one's family was one of the reasons
hemophilia ran rampant through the English monarchy,
Victoria herself was a carrier.   

The Queen proposed to Albert, I'm loving that idea, on
October 15th 1839 & they were married February 10th 1840.
It truly was a happy union with much mutual love & affection.
Albert became not only Victoria's husband, but also her
constant companion, confidant, political adviser
& most ardent supporter.

Queen Victoria's wedding gown. It was adorned with orange blossoms
on her wedding day as a symbol of fertility & it was this gown that
started the tradition of having a 'white' wedding dress.

Victoria Regina's wedding shoes...

I love how even the inside of the shoes are personalized.

Victoria adored her new husband & the love & affection he bestowed upon
her, something she was not very use to. Initially Albert found it a little unsettling
being "only the husband, not the master of the house.", but in time he found his
own roles that he was very passionate about. He was the President of The
Society for the Extinction of Slavery & worked hard to reform child labor laws
& open free trade. He assumed the role of remodeling & updating many
of the Royal Palaces, Albert seemed to be a great man in his own right.  

Queen Victoria & HRH Prince Albert had 9 children together...

by age; Victoria, Edward VII in the center who would be King, Alice, Alfred, Helena,
Louise, Arthur, Leopold who died from Hemophilia & Beatrice. Victoria & Albert
had a happy marriage for 21 years, until he died in 1861 of typhoid fever.
Queen Victoria was despondent & she wore black in mourning
for her husband for the rest of her life.

And so begun the formal Victorian Mourning tradition, from the deep grief of a
Queen, for the loss of her King. The photo above is of Victoria &
her daughter Beatrice in mourning.

Victoria & Albert's five daughters in mourning.

Still in mourning with her grandchildren, Alexandra, the last
Tsarina of Russia, sitting at the Queens knee.

A mourning ring Queen Victoria had made & wore for the rest of her live.

The Albert Memorial in London.

The Queen was inconsolable, she could no longer go out in public
or fulfill her public duties. The monarchy truly was in jeopardy. It
was during the 1860's that Victoria came to rely on one of her
husbands favorite servants from Scotland, Mr. John Brown.

John Brown worked at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, which now was one of the
Queen's favorite places to seek refuge. He was a close confidant of Prince
Albert & Victoria trusted him for his competence & companionship.  

He had a very informal manner with the Queen, which it appears she liked
& he was able to influence Victoria at a time when no one else could. 
John's main duty was to be prepared to take the Queen out for a
some air & a horse ride if it were required.
He was diligent & relentless.

John Brown's loyalty for the Queen was without question. Even those who feared
she held too much favor for him had to agree, he would lay down his life for her.
As the Queen's Highland Servant, he would take orders only from her.

In a letter written to her daughter, Queen Victoria writes,
"He comes to my room after breakfast and luncheon to get his orders, and everything
is always right; he is quiet, has an excellent memory, and besides is so devoted. He is a
real treasure to me. It is an excellent arrangement, and I feel I have a good
and devoted soul in the house, whose only interest is my welfare.
God knows how much I want to be taken care of. "

During this time in London, gossip & rumors were prevalent as the Queen was
being referred to as 'Mrs. Brown'. To make matters worse for speculation,
John Brown's bed chamber had been moved to one of the Queen's adjoining
rooms, in order for him to be closer to her. Jokingly, even her children
called Mr. Brown, 'Mama's Lover'.

We will never know the exact relationship Queen Victoria had with her Mr. Brown.
What we do know is that John Brown remained devoted to Victoria for over 18 years
& she to him. After his death in 1883, the Queen wrote to Viscount Cranbrook,
"Perhaps never in history was there so strong and true an attachment, so warm and
loving a friendship between the sovereign and servant ... Strength of character
as well as power of frame, the most fearless uprightness, kindness, sense of
justice, honesty, independence and unselfishness combined with a tender, warm
heart made him one of the most remarkable men. The Queen feels that life
for the second time is become most trying and sad to bear deprived of all
she so needs, the blow has fallen too heavily not to be very heavily felt."
Queen Victoria's mourning brooch for John Brown.

Statue commissioned by Queen Victoria of John Brown at Balmoral Castle.

Queen Victoria died January 22nd in 1901 after having one of the longest reigns in
England's history. For me, the most telling part of their relationship comes from
Victoria's own instructions given to her doctor upon her death. These included a list
of the keepsakes & mementos, photographs & trinkets she wished to be placed into
the coffin with her... along with Albert's dressing gown & a plaster cast of his hand,
the Queen was buried with a lock of Brown's hair, his photograph, a ring worn by
Brown's mother & given to her by Brown, along with several of his letters.
The photograph, wrapped in white tissue paper, was placed in her left
hand, with flowers discreetly arranged so as to hide it from view.
The ring she wore on the third finger of her right hand.

Queen Victoria in her Diamond Jubilee portrait, 1897.

Some gifts bestowed to John Brown from Her Majesty Queen Victoria...

After the Queen's death, her daughter Beatrice edited her mother's
diaries leaving in only what she wanted the world to know & John Brown's
diaries never have been found. Movies have been made & books have been
written about their relationship, but the only proof we truly have about the Queen
& her Highland Servant, come from the words & actions of Victoria herself.

Tell me...what do you think of the idea of 'Mrs. Brown'?
Sweetest Friends, I hope you all have a lovely Easter filled with
family, friends, bunny's, chocolate eggs & laughter!