Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.

QUEEN VICTORIA (1819-1901)

Queen Victoria

Assassinating Victoria


There were at least seven attempts to assassinate Victoria; she was attacked three times in 1842 alone. The characters involved sound rather like the cast of a Carry On film: the first attempt was foiled by the timely intervention of PC Trounce, while the second was perpetrated by John Bean, who shot at her with a pistol harmlessly loaded with a wad of tobacco. Another assassin, John Francis, was described by Prince Albert as ‘a thorough scamp’ before being transported, and yet another inspired William McGonagall to write:
 
‘Maclean must be a madman,
Which is obvious to be seen,
Or else he wouldn't have tried to shoot
Our most beloved Queen.’
 
One plot, to blow up Westminster Abbey with the Queen and half the Cabinet inside during her Golden Jubilee, eventually turned out to have been invented by the British Government to discredit the Irish Home Rule faction. The plan nearly went badly awry when two Irish-American bombers got wind of it and decided to put it into action for real; they were thwarted only because the ship they were going to travel on was full, so they arrived in England too late.
 
All the would-be assassins were treated rather magnanimously by comparison with modern standards. One got off altogether on the grounds of insanity, and none of them got more than seven years.

Queen Victoria had an irrational fear of bishops.

Medical Issues


Queen Victoria was a carrier of the defective X-chromosome that carries the gene for haemophilia. She had nine children all of whom married into various royal families of Europe, where the gene is now pervasive.
 
Queen Victoria had a daughter named Alice Maud Mary, Princess of Saxe-Coburg. Her daughter Alexandra married Czar Nicholas II of Russia and their son was Alexis Nicolaievich Romanov, who had haemophilia. Inbreeding is not the issue here: Victoria's significance is that she had lots of descendants. Haemophilia is the result of one defective gene; female carriers with one copy of the gene are personally unaffected but their male offspring have a 50-50 chance of being bleeders (though if a haemophiliac male and a carrier female were to breed they could produce a haemophiliac female, with two copies of the defective gene).

A book called Victoria's Gene by D. M. and W. T. W. Potts advances an even more radical hypothesis: ‘Queen Victoria's son, Prince Leopold, died from haemophilia, but no member of the royal family before his generation had suffered from the condition. Medically, there are only two possibilities: either one of Victoria's parents had a 1 in 50,000 random mutation, or Victoria was the illegitimate child of a haemophiliac man.’
 
After she died, Queen Victoria's underwear was divvied up amongst her courtiers as mementoes, along with the rest of her clothes. They are easily identified by her royal cypher, which was on every piece. 

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria were born in the same year (1819) and delivered by the same midwife.

QUEEN VICTORIA (1819-1901)

I don't dislike babies, though I think very young ones rather disgusting.

Coronation Day


Queen Victoria's five-hour coronation was like an episode of ‘Alright On The Night’. The Archbishop of Canterbury forced the teen queen's coronation ring onto the wrong finger; it caused her severe pain and could only be removed later after much effort with ice water to reduce the swelling. (Amazingly he did exactly the same at her wedding, three years later). Then the Bishop of Bath and Wells accidentally turned over two pages in the service book, thus omitting a whole section and rendering the coronation invalid. The queen had left the Abbey by the time anyone realised and had to be called back for a retake.

As the Lords were presented to her, the elderly and aptly-named Lord Rolle became globally famous for tripping over on the steps leading to the throne - and rolling all the way down them, as captured in John Martin's 1839 painting of the coronation. As he rose and tried again, Victoria got up and went to him to save him the effort. This act of generosity and modesty caused a public sensation, quite helpful to the image of, at that time, a widely-disliked and mistrusted young monarch.

Fortunately, the Bishop of Durham stood at Victoria's side throughout, to guide her through the rituals and ceremonies. Unfortunately, he had absolutely no idea what was going on at any stage and was, as the Queen told her diary, ‘remarkably maladroit’.

Following this trying day an innovation was introduced - all subsequent coronations have held a full rehearsal.

Queen Victoria was given a giant wheel of cheddar cheese weighing over 1,000lb as a wedding gift.

Not Amused


The line ‘we are not amused’ was recorded in 1919 in Notebooks of a Spinster Lady by Caroline Holland: ‘There is a tale of the unfortunate equerry who ventured during dinner at Windsor to tell a story with a spice of scandal or impropriety in it. “We are not amused,” said the Queen when he had finished.’ The story is said to have been that of a politician named Charles Dilke, who was reputed to have seduced his brother's wife's sister, Virginia Crawford, into 'every French vice', including a threesome with the maid.

Towards the end of her life, Victoria had a 46-inch waist.

H. G. WELLS (1866-1946)

Queen Victoria was like a great paperweight that for half a century sat upon men's minds, and when she was removed their ideas began to blow about the place quite haphazardly.

Victoria spoke fluent English and German, and studied French, Italian and Latin. Later in life, she learnt Hindustani.