Monday, May 21, 2007

Today is Queen Victoria's Birthday


At least today is the day Canada celebrates her birthday. Her actual dob is May 24 1819, and this long weekend is always called the May 24 weekend. Queen Victoria was born in the Regency period, so she makes an appropriate topic for my blog. Here she is aged four, so in 1823.


It is one of the things often skipped over about her, that she was much less of the moralistic queen than she is painted. She grew up a Hanover and was not quite as Victorian as she might seem to us looking back at her era. It was the middle classes that set the tone, the conservative middle classes that were coming into their own, led by some notable politicians and thinkers.

Although christened Alexandrina Victoria, from birth she was formally styled Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria of Kent. She was called Drina within the family. Princess Victoria's father died of pneumonia eight months after she was born. Her grandfather, George III, died six days later.

This is an extract from her diary the day she became Queen.


June 1837 at Kensington Palace
I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here, and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing-gown), and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham (the Lord Chamberlain) then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen. Lord Conyngham knelt down and kissed my hand, at the same time delivering to me the official announcement of the poor King's demise.


As the longest reigning English monarch (interesting those that rule the longest are women) at 63 years and 7 months, it still amazes me that her influence on what were call the colonies is still evident in the fact that we celebrate her birthday, when the current Queen's birthday is all but ignored here in Canada. I love watching trooping the color on the Queen's birthday and can remember going to watch it with my father on more than one occasion as a child.

Mind you, who cares why we have a day off, so long as we do.

And we celebrate with fireworks. Endlessly. My poor little Teaser (a Maltese terrier) spent the whole evening under the bed, and its all going to happen again tonight. This is a picture of the Royal Fireworks display on the Thames in 1749, so very apt for this blog, don't you think?

What happened in the latter 19th century, was formed by what happened during the Regency. The Regency set the stage for what was to come; the era's painters, poets and enlightened thinkers; the women Hannah More, Mary Wollstonecraft, even the fascinating and shocking Lady Hester Stanhope. Perhaps in future blogs it might be interesting to take a look at some of these very interesting ladies.

And ages ago I promised you Portugal. Oh for more time.
Until next time, Happy Rambles.