ith the possible exception of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, no royal couple is more iconic than Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Together, they captured the public interest and reversed the negative perception of royalty that had taken hold since the days of George II.
Strangely enough, Victoria and Albert were actually cousins. Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, was the sister of Albert’s father, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. Nowadays, marriage between cousins is frowned upon, but it was much more common in the nineteenth century.
But despite being blood relatives, Victoria and Albert didn’t particularly like each other when they first met.
It was Leopold I of Belgium who envisioned a marriage between his niece and nephew. But unfortunately for him, Victoria and Albert were not alike.
Raised in a rural part of southeast Germany, Albert was a quiet, determined, conscientious, and intelligent child who loved the outdoors. His academic pursuits were paramount, and he also enjoyed riding, hunting, shooting, and fencing.
This obsession with discipline never wavered, and when Albert went to visit Victoria in the spring of 1836, he wasn’t happy about leaving his structured life behind. Whilst in London, he was forced to endure an endless string of dinners, receptions, balls, concerts, and theatrical performances.
Victoria, on the other hand, loved the glamour of royal nightlife. Celebrations and entertainments were her favorite pastimes, and she would often dance until the early hours of the morning.
The young princess couldn’t fail to notice Albert’s displeasure during his time in the capital, and whilst she acknowledged his handsome features, Victoria wasn’t particularly impressed with her cousin.
In the autumn of 1839 (two years into Victoria’s reign), Albert returned to London.
Though Victoria was fully aware that her family members — especially Uncle Leopold — thought Albert would be an ideal husband, she was far from convinced. She even wrote to her uncle before Albert’s arrival and explained her reservations. But her reluctant attitude soon changed.
Indeed, Albert and Victoria developed a mutual affection for one another. They rode through Windsor Great Park, played music, danced, dined, and doted over Albert’s greyhound. Those inside Windsor Castle noticed the sparks between Victoria and Albert, and it was only a matter of time before Leopold’s vision became a reality.
Given Victoria was the Queen of Great Britain, it was her job to propose to Albert, not the other way around. On the 15th of October, she summoned him to the Blue Closet, a private retreat inside Windsor Castle:
“I said to him that I thought he must be aware why I wished him to come here, and that it would make me too happy if he would consent … we embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind, so affectionate; Oh! to feel I was, and am, loved by such an angel as Albert was too great a delight to describe.”
Having agreed to marry Victoria, Albert spent another four weeks at Windsor Castle, enjoying his surroundings and spending time with his wife-to-be.
Despite their initial differences, Victoria and Albert fulfilled their uncle’s wishes and bonded over their mutual love of nature and music. After tieing the knot on the 10th of February 1840, they went on to have nine children.
But their marriage was cut short when Albert died in 1861, sending Victoria into a spiral of depression. It was a tragic end to one of Britain’s most iconic royal couples. Though Albert was taken too soon, his romance with Victoria remains a key part of British history.
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