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Monday, 15 July 2013

Queen Victoria - A Caring Mother

Further to my post about the documentary 'Queen Victoria's Children' , during the research for my forthcoming biography of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, I am frequently left in amazement at the myth of Queen Victoria being an uncaring mother, or one who was so self-obsessed and absorbed in her husband that her children were either neglected or bullied! Over and over again, her letters and diary entries are filled with references to her children – her concern for them, her love for them, how she misses them when they are absent, their little foibles and all the funny things that children do!

Prince Leopold is often cited as an example of neglect. His illness (haemophilia) often meant that he was left behind when the rest of the family carried out their regular migrations between Osborne, Windsor, Buckingham Palace and Balmoral – but, far from glad that he was absent (‘out of sight, out of mind’) the Queen worried about him and missed him. When, for example, towards the end of his life, Prince Albert insisted on returning to London from Osborne in order to carry out an engagement, Queen Victoria was aghast at having to leave’ poor little Leopold on his sickbed.’ When Leopold was sent to France to avoid the damp English winter, Queen Victoria described kitting him out in a new little suit and kissing him goodbye. A little later, she described running up and downstairs all day, tending her children who had measles. When Vicky was ill in Prussia, Queen Victoria was so appalled that she was being treated by leeches that she wanted to send her own specialist to offer alternative treatment. I could cite a thousand more examples of her concern for her children, and the way in which she refused to force any of them into a loveless marriage...I could also quote many examples of foreign royalties being deeply touched by the affection shown to the royal children by their loving parents!

I sincerely hope my forthcoming biography will lead to a reappraisal of the totally unjust accusation about her lack of maternal feeling!

7 comments:

May said...

I look forward to your biography of the Queen!

Christina said...

Thank you very much, May :-). My forthcoming biography is of Princess Alice but perhaps, after that, I shall also write one about the Queen :-)
Thank you for commenting!

Jayne Austen-Healey said...

How fun it must be to have access to such diaries! I have been wondering how much of Beautiful Princess and Queen Victorias Grandaughters were influenced by actual diaries. I am sure you have said but when is this book on Princess Alice coming out?

I have enjoyed Beautiful Princess so much that I have read it over several times and have taken myself on several other journeys through Russian history, architecture and general culture. Thank you!

Christina said...

What a very kind and lovely comment, Jayne - thank you so much! :-)

I think that only by reading people's actual words can you get a real 'feel' for them, don't you? Before I wrote either of the books you mentioned, I just steeped myself in the letters and diaries, with no intention of writing any books at first. The characters just come alive through their letters.
The new biography should, all being well, be available by late autumn (or even a little sooner).
Thank you again for your kindness!

Rhona Tolchard said...

Totally endorse your opinion of Queen Victoria. I was disgusted by the recent tv documentary that presented her as a distant and uncaring parent. I think, having read a fair number of biographies of her, that she did a pretty good job, especially as a mother of nine and a working monarch!

Rhona Tolchard said...

Just wanted to say in passing as a new reader how much I'm enjoying Christina Croft's "docu-fiction" such as the Shattered Crowns series. It's a good way of popularising historic events and making them accessible in the same way as docu-drama.

Christina said...

Thank you so much for your very kind comments :-) I am so pleased you are enjoying the books.
The documentaries about QV make me angry, too, as they are so far from the truth about her and about Prince Albert. They might have made some mistakes - who hasn't!? - but they were very loving parents and diligent in their duties!
Thank you again for commenting!