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Married but looking Prince Albert

Prince Albert and his wife, Queen Victoria, were first cousins, sharing one set of grandparents.

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To the outside world Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family seemed the embodiment of domestic bliss, but the reality was very different, writes historian Jane Ridley. The marriage between the two first cousins - the young Queen and the clever, handsome German prince - was a love match.

Years: 41
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After the sudden and tragic death of Prince Albert inthe grief-stricken Queen Victoria dedicated herself to memorialising her marriage as a perfect union. At Frogmorethe royal burial ground at Windsor, she built a mausoleum and commissioned the sculptor Marochetti to create effigies of herself and the prince lying side-by-side — though it would be another 40 years before she would take her place beside her beloved Albert. Five days later she summoned him to her blue closet and proposed to him.

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But the marriage was not the romantic happy-ever-after story that Victoria constructed. It was far more complex than that.

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Like all dynastic marriages, this was an alliance with a political agenda. Albert began his quest for power immediately after the marriage. Albert fired Lehzen and assumed control of the household, introducing much-needed reforms and economies. In Novemberwhen her first child was born, Victoria gave Albert the key to the cabinet boxes.

At dinners with politicians, Albert could be heard prompting Victoria in German before she spoke.

8 fascinating facts about queen victoria’s husband, prince albert

By now he had become her private secretary. Victoria declared herself grateful to Albert for relieving her of the tiresome work of the sovereign. Women, she believed, were not fit to rule. But the fact was that the royal marriage was unlike any other. It took place within the peculiar context of the court.

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How she longed to get to know the queen, her employer, but Victoria barely spoke to her. The creation of a private sphere — of a space dedicated to domestic life — was one of the most far-reaching changes made by Albert in his drive to reform the monarchy. Disliking London with its late nights, and sneered at by the aristocracy as a German beggar, Albert persuaded Victoria that her enjoyment of society was wrong. True happiness, he claimed, was to be found in the country with her beloved prince and her young family.

Albert deed the new family home at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, safely inaccessible from a prying public.

Queen victoria and prince albert: was their union a marriage of misery?

Even more remote was Balmoral, the castle he created in the Scottish Highlands, miles from London. At court, Albert introduced new rules, distancing the royal family from the household — that is, the courtiers and officeholders such as the Lord Chamberlain. He ordered that no man was to sit in the presence of the queen. The hated Gltone was never asked to sit, even in his eighties.

Albert forbade maids of honour from sitting in his presence or speaking to him unless spoken to. He went everywhere attended by an equerry, thus emphasising his royal status. In his relations with the courtiers of the household, Albert was cold and stiff. People noticed that the prince made not a single friend among ministers or the household.

Albert, prince consort

Victoria, on the other hand, was adored because of her disarming frankness and her unquenchable curiosity and interest in the affairs of everyone around her. One result of withdrawing from the court was that the royal couple were closer to their ordinary servants than they were to the aristocratic courtiers of the household. Behind the closed doors of the private apartments, Victoria was often irritable and moody. Her last two pregnancies were marked by hysterical scenes.

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Rather than engage, he walked away and, as his wife stormed out of the room in a fury, the prince composed letters reprimanding her for unreasonable behaviour. Victoria kept a notebook in which she recorded her tempers, her selfishness, and her loss of self-control.

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He was certainly a loyal and faithful husband. But she was made to feel that she was inadequate, his intellectual and moral inferior.

Queen victoria: the real story of her 'domestic bliss'

This was not a marriage of equals. This artifice imposed unbearable stresses upon them both.

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Little wonder Victoria lost her temper now and then. In the s he consistently rose early in the morning to deal with his growing amount of paperwork.

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His meddling in politics made him unpopular in the country, and he became a lonely, unhappy figure. Photographs show him prematurely aged, balding and careworn. Jane Ridley is professor of history at the University of Buckingham and author of several works on the Victorian era, including Victoria Allen Lane, in.

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Back to Main menu Everything you ever wanted to know about Back to Main menu Virtual history events History masterclasses. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in a re-enactment of their marriage ceremony, Prince Albert is in military uniform and is wearing his medals.

Osborne House, Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, five years after their marriage.

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