Welcome to the middle.
Three years. Three years stretch between the time Victoria and Albert said “how do you do” and “I do.” Here lies an account of their courtship period. Told through letters, diaries, and accounts from bystanders.
May 24, 1819 Alexandrina “Drina” Victoria is born at Kensington Palace.
August 26, 1819 Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel is born at Schloss Rosenau.
. . . The Duchess of Kent and Sir John Conroy govern young Victoria under the Kensington System. Meanwhile, Uncle Leopold grooms Albert to one day become the prince consort.
Intended since birth, they don’t meet until. . .
May 18, 1836 Victoria first meets Albert.
[Ernest] has dark hair, & fine dark eyes & eye-brows, but the nose & mouth are not good; he has a most kind, honest & intelligent expression in his countenance, & has a very good figure. Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest, but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large & blue, & he has a beautiful nose, & a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful; c’est a la fois, full of goodness & sweetness, & very clever & intelligent.
June 7, 1836 – Victoria shares her impression of Albert in a letter to her Uncle Leopold.
[Albert] possesses every quality, that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too. He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see.
June 20, 1837 Victoria becomes queen of England, succeeding her uncle.
June 28, 1838 The coronation of Queen Victoria.
May 3, 1839 Victoria is surprised by a visit from the Grand Duke Alexander.
“Quite cross about it,” a young Queen Victoria had no more sat down to dinner than tsarevich Alexander II arrived with his entourage of 70. Finally. A telegraph had alerted her to his delay. She ranted in her diary of “What a contretemps!”
Her vexation soon dissipated. The apparent heir’s agreeable company wouldn’t allow for it. Nor would his appearance fail to charm. For Alexander was dashing and a lady’s man.
May 11, 1839 Victoria and Alexander scandalously share an opera box.
A missive is dispatch by Alexander’s entourage to his father, Tsar Nicholas:
The Queen is clearly enjoying the society of His Imperial Majesty. Everyone is saying they are an ideal couple. Were the Grand Duke to make a proposal to the Queen, it would be accepted without hesitation.
Tsar Nicholas order his son home.
May 28, 1839 Victoria and Alexander share one last night. . .
The queen journaled of how the Grand Duke “took my hand and pressed it warmly; he looked pale and his voice faltered as he said, ‘Words fail me to express what I feel.’ He kissed her hand and cheek.”
She was heartbroken when he left the next morn.
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July 15, 1839 Victoria shares her reservations of Albert with her Uncle Leopold
I am anxious to put several questions to you, and to mention some feelings of mine upon the subject of my cousins’ visit, which I am desirous should not transpire. First of all, I with to know if Albert is aware of the wish of his Father and you relative to me? Secondly, if he knows that there is no engagement between us? I am anxious that you should acquaint Uncle Ernest, that if I should like Albert, that I can make no final promise this year, for, at the very earliest, any such event could not take place till two or three years hence. . .
Though all the reports of Albert are most favourable, and though I have little doubt I shall like him, still one can never answer beforehand for feelings, and I may not have the feeling for him which is requisite to ensure happiness. I may like him as a friend, and as a cousin and as a brother, but no more.
Most likely, her recent feelings for Alexander left her apprehensive of love. But there was much pressure for her to choose a husband.
August 26, 1839 Victoria writes Uncle Leopold that she’s exhausted from her duties.
September 25, 1839 Plans are made for the cousins to visit.
My Dear Uncle,-
You will, I think, laugh when you get this letter, and will think I only mean to employ you in stopping my relations at Brussels, but I think you will approve of my wish. . . the Cousins [arrive] here on the 30th. . . All I want is that you should detain them one or two days longer in order that they may arrive here on Thursday, the 3rd, if possible early.
My reason for this is as follows: a number of the Ministers are coming down here on Monday to stay till Thursday.
After being repeatedly ignored, Prince Albert had become disenchanted and rightly so.
October 1, 1839 Victoria is frustrated by Albert delaying his visit.
I had a letter from Albert yesterday, she wrote to Uncle Leopold. [He said] they could not set off before the 6th. I think they don’t exhibit must impressment to come here, which rather shocks me.
She then brings up her recent “suitor”: The Grand Duke.
I got a very nice letter from dear Alexander yesterday from Reinhardtsbrun; he says Albert is very much improved. . . His description of him is as follows: – “Albert, I found him, had become stronger and more handsome; still he has not grown much taller; he is a most pleasant, intelligent young man. I find, too, that he has become more lively than he was, and that sits well on him, too.”
October 10, 1839 Albert arrives.
Upon seeing each other, all hurt is forgiven.
At ½ p.7 I went to the top of the staircase and received my dear 2 cousins Ernest and Albert – whom I found grown and changed, and embellished. It was with some emotion that I beheld Albert.
October 11, 1839 Albert makes a grand romantic gesture.
While dancing together, Victoria gifted Albert with a flower from her bouquet. He, however, had no buttonhole to secure it. With a penknife he slit his uniform and “placed the flower over his heart.”
October 15, 1839 Victoria proposes.
She confided in her diary the event which transpired, writing, “We embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind, so affectionate… I really felt it was the happiest brightest moment in my life.”
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November 15, 1839 Prince Albert pens a love letter to his fiancée.
Dearest deeply loved Victoria,
According to your wish, and by the urgency of my heart to talk to you and open my heart to you, I send these lines. . .
I need not tell you that since we left, all my thoughts have been with you at Windsor, and that your image fills my whole soul.
Even in my dreams, I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth. How that moment shines for me still when I was close to you, with your hand in mine. Those days flew by so quickly, but our separation will fly equally so.
Ernest wishes me to say a thousand nice things to you. With promises of unchanging love and dovecote, Your ever true Albert
November 23, 1839 Victoria and Albert’s engagement is announced.
January 27, 1839 Albert is disrespected by Parliament’s allowance.
Victoria’s allowance was £385,000 (or $1,709,400 at the time). Since many thought the pauper prince to be a fortune hunter, Albert was given a mere £30,000 allowance ($133,200).
Despite sharing in responsibilities, Victoria earned 12 times over her husband’s pay.
February 7, 1840 Albert returns to England for their pending wedding.
February 10, 1840 The wedding day of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
The Ceremony was very imposing, and fine and simple, and I think out to make an everlasting impression on every one who promises at the Altar to keep what he or she promises. Dearest Albert repeated everything very distinctly.
February 16, 1840 A happy end.
In conclusion of her twenty-eighth journal, Victoria wrote that it recorded the accounts of “the most interesting and the happiest time of my life.”
The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen
The official companion to The Masterpiece Presentation on PBS opens a new realm of insight and color to the beloved queen.
Focusing on the early life of Queen Victoria, the hardcover contains letters, journal entries, and a behind-the-scenes look at both the Victorian England of the past and present on-screen.