The girlhood of Queen Victoria: A selection from Her Majesty’s diaries between the years 1832 and 1840. Edited by Viscount Esher; 1912; J. Murray in London.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) is one of the most famous monarchs of all time and her reign, lasting for 63 years and seven months, is now known as the Victorian era; a period of great industrial and scientific change as well as expansion of the British Empire. These excerpts from her diaries span from 1832, when Victoria was 13-years-old, to 1840, the same year that she married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at the age of 20. Having just turned 18 in May 1837, she became queen the next month after the death of William IV. Covering her teenage years as well as the earlier parts of her reign, Victoria writes of subjects relating to her position as queen and the political climate of the times as well as more personal matters, such as her nervousness when giving speeches and her taking for her cousin Albert. Of her nervousness, she writes on Wednesday, 6th February 1839:
[…] I always felt nervous; and Lord M. [Melbourne] said that no one ever got over that, and that there were very few who didn’t feel the same nervousness before making a Speech even if you had done it a 100 times […].
Of her second meeting with Albert, on 11th October 1839, she writes:
At about 1/2 p. 10 dancing began. I danced 5 quadrilles; (1) with Ernest; (2) with dearest Albert, who dances so beautifully; (3) with Lord Alfred; (4) with Ernest; and (5) with dearest Albert again. […] it is quite a pleasure to look at dearest Albert when he gallops and valses, he does it so beautifully, holds himself so well with that beautiful figure of his.
A few days later, on 15th October, Victoria proposed to Albert and they were married in February 1840. She wrote ecstatically of the day in her diary:
NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert … his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! … to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!