On 24 Might 1819, a baby woman was born whose delivery can be of overwhelming importance however on whose supply it was certainly not sure that she would succeed. This, regardless of the proud boast of her father, the Duke of Kent, who was determined in the royal marriage race that ensued on the dying of the Prince Regent’s heir, Princess Charlotte, that ‘the crown will come to me and my youngsters’. (cit., Christopher Hibbert, Queen Victoria: A Personal Historical past, 10). A gypsy in Gibraltar had purportedly predicted this fate for the Duke’s baby, as but unborn. When his child daughter was lastly born at Kensington Palace, the Dowager Duchess of Coburg – mom to the Duchess of Kent – wrote ecstatically to her personal daughter, in an epistolary sigh of aid: ‘My God, how glad I’m to hear of you. I can’t discover words to precise my delight that every little thing went so easily…’ (cit., Ibid, 12). With confident flourish she added, considerably: ‘The English like Queens’. (cit., Ibid, 12). Mme d’Arblay (nee Fanny Burney) who noticed the infant youngster in the summer of 1819, referred to her with prescience as the ‘Queen presumptive’. (cit., Flora Fraser, Princesses, 318).
We know in fact, that the infant princess would go on to turn into Queen Victoria, a figure of legend in her personal lifetime, an Empress of Empire, giving her identify to a whole age. We should keep in mind although, that on the time of her start, this all lay in the future. The subsequent heir after the (now childless) Prince Regent, later George IV, was nonetheless the Duke’s elder brother, William, Duke of Clarence, later to succeed his eldest brother, as William IV. His marriage to Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, had been performed at Kew, a double ceremony, when the Duke of Kent’s own marriage had been repeated, in an English service. Princess Adelaide nevertheless, did not take pleasure in the same happiness as had the Duke of Clarence’s former mistress, the actress Dora Jordan, with whom he had some ten youngsters, the Fitzclarences, whom he adored. Princess Adelaide did indeed conceive – as well as no less than one miscarriage, she gave delivery to two daughters in succession alongside, each of whom died; the little Princess Elizabeth of Clarence, in her third month of life. Devastated, Adelaide wrote to her sister-in-law (and fellow German) the Duchess of Kent: ‘My youngsters are lifeless, but yours lives and She is mine too.’ (cit., Ibid, 30).
Kensington Palace, birthplace of Queen Victoria ©Elizabeth Jane Timms, 2019
As Princess Victoria progressively emerged as the possible heiress presumptive, it appeared not possible that the Duchess of Clarence would yet give delivery to another youngster. Apparently, the significance of the longer term Queen Victoria’s start in England, in order that (within the words of the Duke of Kent’s buddies, Joseph Hume) her future proper to reign won’t be ‘challenged, and challenged with impact, from the circumstance of the start happening on overseas soil’ (cit., Ibid, 10), necessitated coming back from Germany, if the Duke’s want have been to be realised, for the crown to indeed come to him and his youngsters. This involved raising adequate funds to take action due to the shortage of help from the Prince Regent. Ultimately, a sum of over £15,000 was collected, to allow the now legendary royal ark of the Duke and Duchess’s get together, to cross Europe back to England, along with lap-dogs and swaying cages of the Duchess’s songbirds.
The longer term Queen Victoria’s potential place of conception has never really been properly discussed, however is unquestionably of curiosity, when considering her future destiny. Most accounts concur with the idea that the Duke and Duchess of Kent left England quickly after their second English ceremony at Kew on 11 July 1818. The closest I can find that leads to an approximate date is October 1818, in accordance with the Queen’s biographer, Woman Longford. (Elizabeth Longford, Queen Victoria, 21). The Duchess already was displaying indicators of being pregnant and must by calculating the well timed delivery in Might, have been in her second month (Ibid, 21). This tells us that Queen Victoria was conceived in September 1818. The couple’s first wedding ceremony had been performed at Coburg on 29 Might 1818 and that is obviously too early. They have been in England for the second service, at Kew in July.
I conclude that this means, fascinatingly, that the longer term Queen Victoria was subsequently, conceived within the country over which she was someday fated to rule. Queen Victoria was staunchly pleased with her German heritage however whilst the Queen retained a robust feeling of German id, it was in England she was conceived and during which on 24 Might 1819, she was born.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent arrived again in England a month before the delivery at Kensington Palace. The delivery that might be so crucial to British historical past passed off some 4 weeks later.
The Duchess of Kent can be assisted in the start by the eminent feminine obstetrician, Madame Siebold. Most fascinatingly, I made a exceptional discovery when sifting by way of Queen Victoria’s later journals. At Windsor in 1867, the Queen mentions one Siebold, an interpreter and particulars that he was the good nephew of the identical Siebold who assisted her mother at her start in 1819. Her extraordinary memory for names and faces was something the Queen shared intently together with her paternal grandfather, George III, and this involved someone whom she didn’t even keep in mind, at her start. Madame Siebold would also deliver one other royal baby three months later in August 1819, back in Germany – Queen Victoria’s beloved future husband and consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
The longer term Queen Victoria was born at a quarter past 4 in morning of 24 Might 1819. The morning was a chilly one. In line with Woman Longford, the dawn refrain had in all probability begun (Longford, 22) and we’d suppose that the perfume of lilacs might have been in the air, at this Might delivery of the Kents’ ‘Might blossom’. (cit., Ibid, 22). Touchingly, the Duke of Kent reflected on the start of his baby woman: ‘The decrees of Windfall are always wisest and greatest’. (cit., Ibid, 22). Historical past, would little question, agree with him.
The memoirs of a German princess, Marie zu Erbach-Schönberg, of whom Queen Victoria would develop into extraordinarily fond, stayed at Kensington Palace after the Queen’s dying. She provides us an concept of what the palace may need been wish to sleep in and so it may need appeared when Queen Victoria was born in the early hours of the morning of 24 Might 1819. Princess Marie wrote: ‘My rooms within the fascinating previous palace appeared out on the park, and although it’s within the midst of London it was as quiet as though we had been within the country. At night time I might hear the owls in the previous timber’. (cit., Princess Marie of Battenberg, Reminiscences, 356).
Proudly, the Duke of Kent would present his baby woman later to his associates, urging them to ‘take a look at her nicely, for she might be Queen of England’. (cit., Hibbert, 12). With the endearing love of a father, whom she would never know – and whom we know, died before she was one years previous – he named her with delight, his ‘pocket Hercules’, telling the Dowager Duchess of Coburg, in a letter preserved within the Royal Archives, that his robust, child daughter was ‘a model of power and wonder mixed’ (cit., Ibid, 12); the Duchess wrote she was ‘a reasonably little Princess, plump as a partridge’. (cit., A. N. Wilson, 36).
The Duke of Kent had been present on the delivery, which lasted just over six hours. The Duke wrote to his mother-in-law, the Dowager Duchess of Coburg, with some admiration of his wife’s fortitude (being himself a seasoned soldier, a reality which Queen Victoria would keep in mind with satisfaction, as a soldier’s daughter): ‘The pricey mom and youngster are doing marvellously nicely… It’s completely unattainable for me to do justice to the endurance and sweetness with which [the mother] behaved’. (cit., Hibbert, 12). Thrilled, the Dowager Duchess wrote back hurriedly to London, addressing her daughter: ‘I can’t write much… pricey mouse… for I am much too joyful’. (cit., Ibid, 12). ‘Mouse’ by the way seems to have been a well-liked identify, because the Duchess of Kent used it to explain her new born daughter, to her mom, the Dowager Duchess of Coburg, saying her ‘little mouse [was] so unmanageable I almost cried’. (cit., Deirdre Murphy, The Younger Victoria, 36).
The Duke of Kent adored his child daughter. When she was three months previous, he ordered the gardener at Kew to chop three bunches of flowers, for the Duchess of Kent’s birthday by six o’clock within the morning: ‘a very giant posy for myself to offer her, and a couple of smaller ones’. (cit., Fraser, 318). One in every of these was ‘to be put into the palms of our little child, [Princess Victoria]which, in fact, have to be so composed as to don’t have anything to prick her palms’. (cit., Ibid, 318).
The Duchess of Kent’s ‘bed room’ was adorned in white and the bed laid with white cambric, with a mahogany cradle waiting in it (A. N. Wilson, 36), although this may increasingly both discuss with the Duchess’s personal bedroom within the personal flats, or to the precise room the place the delivery occurred. The Duchess went into labour at between ten and ten-thirty, the earlier night, 23 Might 1819. The rooms of the Kents have been those (since vacated) from the Prince Regent’s detested wife, Caroline of Brunswick, the Princess of Wales. This palace was the place destined to function in the first reminiscences of Queen Victoria, written down a lot later in her personal memoir of 1872, her crawling on a yellow carpet.
The birth-room at Kensington Palace, of the longer term Queen Victoria (York & Son, London – Frederick York (1823-1903) and William York (1855-1931) [United States Public domain or Public domain])
The child Victoria was painted by the German artist Johann Georg Paul Fischer, in a miniature for the Duke of Kent’s birthday, 2 November 1819. Fischer later wrote: ‘I was favoured to paint the very first portrait of Her Majesty, when in her Cradle: a large miniature on ivory, which you can see among the Rarities of Windsor Citadel’. A research for the above was prepared by Fischer, displaying the six-month-old Princess Victoria in a Scotch bonnet and white frock with bows of purple and inexperienced ribbon. Items of this have been preserved. (Kay Staniland, In Royal Trend, 82). The Duchess despatched a bit of the tartan material to the Duke of Kent with the phrases ‘Dein Vickelchen’ [YourVickelchen’andsomewordssungbythedaughterfromherfirstmarriagePrincessFeodoreonpinkpaper(Murphy43)BabyVictoriawaspaintedinherfirstyearinaworkentitledQueenVictoriaasaBabywiththeDuchessofKentbytheBritishSchoolc1820
A lot in connection with Queen Victoria’s start was rigorously preserved by her doting mother, the Duchess of Kent. The child princess was the Duchess’s third youngster. We all know much about these things that she preserved because Queen Victoria made a painful discovery of them, while sorting by way of the private results of her mom, after her demise. To her unhappiness, must certainly be added the deep posthumous remorse of the misplaced years of her troublesome relationship together with her mother, as nicely the precise loss of her, in March 1861. The anguish of this revelation clearly redoubled the love (and grief) that Queen Victoria felt for her mom and combined it with the guilt over her childhood and youth, although the connection had genuinely warmed into love within the later interval of the Duchess’s life.
Grief-stricken, the Queen wrote to her beloved uncle (the Duchess’s brother), Leopold, King of the Belgians: ‘So many recollections of my childhood are brought again to me… I’ve discovered little books with the accounts of my babyhood, they usually present such unbounded tenderness.’ (cit., A. C. Benson and Viscount Esher, A Selection from Her Majesty’s Correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861, pp 558-560).
The Duchess of Kent did indeed, protect the whole lot. The Queen wrote to the King of the Belgians: ‘It is touching to seek out how she treasured up every little flower, each little bit of hair’ (cit., Ibid, 560). Her mom had compiled an album between 1820 and 1825, which survives in the Royal Collection. Touchingly, the Duchess treasured up the cuttings of her little daughter’s hair, each brownish lock tied with pink ribbons and with the samples dated and inscribed in the Duchess’s personal hand, in German. (Murphy, 204).
Amongst the earliest of these is a lock of little Victoria’s hair, taken at Claremont, where Princess Victoria spent much time in her childhood. I learn the Duchess’s writing beneath it: ‘Hair of my beloved Victorichen, reduce off, 14 November 1820, Claremont’. The subsequent one reads filled with affection: ‘Lieb Vickelchen, Haare den eight August 1821, Palast Kensington’. [Pricey little Vickel’s hair, eight August 1821, Kensington Palace]’. Samples proceed on the page of the Duchess’s album, rigorously dated, 1822, 1823, 1824 and 1825. (Murphy, 205). Princess Victoria’s hair was reduce from the age of five onwards, by the hairdresser and perfumier, Stephen Taylor. (Staniland, 86).
The Duchess gave a gift to her baby daughter – her first gold locket – in 1820. It is preserved within the Royal Collection. It was a gift from the Duchess to her little Princess Victoria, containing a lock of the Duchess’s own hair and that of the lifeless father, the Duke of Kent. Its inscription learn: ‘Present from her Mom to her beloved Victoria on the First Anniversary of her Birthday 24 Might 1820’. (Murphy, 11).
Pink could also be necessary to the Duchess, when it came to her beloved child daughter. Amongst the earliest letters preserved in morocco-bound volumes in the Royal Archives of the Duchess’s letters to Queen Victoria, are little pink envelopes, which the Duchess placed on little Victoria’s pillow. One such letter inside is on shiny pink paper: ‘Earlier than you shut your pricey little eyes: In some hours this yr is closed!…Consider me, my most beloved baby, that no one in this world can love you higher than, your true and affectionate Mom. God bless you!!!’ (cit., A. N. Wilson, 45). However pink in fact, quite merely traditionally symbolizes, a child woman.
The Duchess of Kent with the infant Princess Victoria, who clasps a miniature of her father, the Duke of Kent (Henry Bone [United States Public domain or Public domain])
The Duchess even stored a tiny guide, during which she faithfully recorded each tooth of Princess Victoria, as it appeared. (Murphy, 204). We even know, because of the Duchess’s devoted have to preserve and memorialize, where the longer term Queen Victoria stood up for the primary time. It was at Claremont. The Duchess noted for 21 Might 1821: ‘Heute Morgen ist meine geliebstes Sort Victoria allein gegangen’. [This morning my most beloved child Victoria walked on her own] (cit., A. N. Wilson, 43).
After her mom’s demise, Queen Victoria was’ much upset’ by discovering a few of her previous issues at Clarence Home, which the Duchess had painstakingly preserved, corresponding to her previous dolls ‘which introduced again so many reminiscences’. (cit., Murphy, pp. 204-206). In the present day, a few of Queen Victoria’s picket dolls, which she had made together with her childhood governess Baroness Lehzen, are displayed in the room where she was born at Kensington Palace, collectively together with her actual dolls’ home. Elsewhere in this extraordinary room, is the previous Saxon gilt-cradle used for several of her personal youngsters and objects recalling her personal babyhood and that of her and Prince Albert’s youngsters.
Many years ago, I used to be afforded the unique privilege of visiting this birth-room at Kensington Palace, before it was opened to the public. In these days, it was virtually empty but for a large desk and contained next to no ornament. Evidently, it was used as a meeting room.
Kensington Palace clearly touched a deep nerve in Queen Victoria. It was in many ways, a dwelling embodiment of her childhood and in addition a spot that helped forge the steel that was a lot part of her adolescent and later, grownup character. In 1867, she returned to visit the flats at Kensington Palace that she had lived in on one event and wrote: ‘my pricey previous Residence, what number of reminiscences it evoked walking via the well-known rooms!’ (cit., Murphy, 14).
In 1899, she paid a little-known (and last) visit to the Palace, shortly before it was opened to the public. During this visit, she went inside the room on the primary flooring, the north drawing room, which generality now accepts to be the room through which she was born, but declared that she had never as soon as been inside it. (Murphy, 35). That is virtually definitely unfaithful, however the Queen in fact, would not have remembered her own start. As an alternative, this birth-room was specially set out for the supply of the Duchess’s baby, as a result of it was at a discreet distance from the personal flats, which had their very own separate entry route. (Ibid, 36). The Duke of Kent described the birth-room as having magnificent views out onto the park. (Ibid, 37). A pen and ink drawing on paper, Kensington Palace: the room by which Her Majesty was born was made in 1899 by the artist Percy Macquoid and survives in the Royal Collection.
Poignantly, Queen Victoria revisited Kensington Palace where she was born, simply two years earlier than she died. We’d surmise that the child of Kensington Palace remained all the time somewhere inside the aged Queen. She evidently retained affection for it, whatever she decided her childhood had been like later. In two years, Queen Victoria can be sipping her final milk; at Kensington Palace she taken her bread and milk in a small silver basin.
Standing in this room at this time, there’s that same sense of royal future that it’s potential to really feel throughout the rooms of Kensington Palace. The start that happened here in 1819 ultimately gave strategy to a historic June day in 1837 where, at six o’clock within the morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain arrived to tell Princess Victoria of the demise of her uncle, William IV at Windsor. After three weeks, Victoria left Kensington Palace for Buckingham Palace.
On 26 Might 1867, one other future queen (consort), Princess Mary of Teck, was born at Kensington Palace. She would ultimately marry Queen Victoria’s grandson, George, Duke of York in 1893. All of Queen Victoria’s youngsters, excluding one, have been born at Buckingham Palace.
At Kensington Palace, Victoria was born. And at Kensington Palace, she turned Queen.
©Elizabeth Jane Timms, 2019.