A Love Story from Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace (© Historic Royal Palaces)

This is a guest blog post from Sutherland Forsyth from Kensington Palace. We regularly work with staff from the palace on events for adults and children in our libraries.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day Sutherland tells us about one of the greatest love stories in history.

‘My dearest Albert put on my stockings for me. I went in and saw him shave; a great delight for me.’

Queen Victoria, 13 February 1840

Oooh-er – that’s a bit racy! A gentleman running his hand up a lady’s leg, her sneaking in to watch him as he gets ready….can this really be the prim, proper, grand old Queen Victoria – dressed in black with a scowl on her face – with whom we are all so familiar?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

Statue of Queen Victoria outside Kensington Palace, sculpted by her daughter Princess Louise
Statue of Queen Victoria outside Kensington Palace, sculpted by her daughter Princess Louise (© Historic Royal Palaces)

Queen Victoria was always a woman of passion: strong-willed and spirited as a girl, confident in her role as monarch, and loving as a wife to her husband Albert. The relationship between Victoria and Albert was one of history’s great love stories, and it started on the Stone Staircase at Kensington Palace on 18 May, 1836 when her cousin Albert arrived to visit her and her mother. She felt an instant attraction to him, and over the next few years they corresponded regularly.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's portraits on display at Kensington Palace
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s portraits on display at Kensington Palace (© Historic Royal Palaces)

After marrying in 1840, Victoria and Albert went on to have nine children, 39 grandchildren and over 1,000 other descendants. There was deep affection as well as mutual respect between this royal couple, and when Albert died at the age of 42 from typhoid fever in 1861, it left Victoria devastated, plunging her into a state of mourning which would last until her dying day, over four decades later.

Victoria’s mourning clothes on display in ‘Victoria Revealed’ at Kensington Palace
Victoria’s mourning clothes on display in ‘Victoria Revealed’ at Kensington Palace (© Historic Royal Palaces)

People remain fascinated by Victoria and Albert’s love affair. When I speak to community groups, run projects with them or take them to Kensington Palace as part of my job as an Outreach & Community Involvement Officer at Historic Royal Palaces (the charity which looks after the public side of the palace), it is striking how some of the small details of their story really strike a chord. There may be well over a hundred years separating us from them, but the emotion of their story still resonates today.

Sutherland Forsyth

Sutherland Forsyth is the Outreach & Community Involvement Officer for Adults at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which cares for the State Apartments at Kensington Palace

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