Chapter One: The Lonely Princess
Chapter One: The Lonely Princess
On 24 May 1819 a little princess was born at Kensington Palace in London. Her name was Alexandrina Victoria. She was the daughter of the Duke of Kent, King William’s brother, and a German Princess, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg. Victoria’s father died when she was a baby. Her childhood was lonely and dull. She had no friends to play with. Her favorite toys were dolls. She rarely went out because her mother was very protective. She grew up with her mother and her strict① German governess②, Baroness Lehzen. Victoria adored Baroness Lehzen.
Victoria later wrote that she “had no brothers or sisters to live with – never had a father, and did not know what a happy home life was.”
The young Princess loved animals and had three pets: a dog called Dash, a canary③ and a parakeet. She had private lessons in many subjects from half past nine in the morning to six in the evening. She loved singing and dancing.
At the age of twelve Victoria said, “I see I am nearer the throne than I supposed.” On that day she made a promise, “I will be good.”
When Victoria was 13 her mother decided that she must see Britain and that the British people must see her. The young Princess travelled to Wales, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the south coast. She was welcomed with enthusiasm everywhere. These journeys were not a holiday but a part of her education. Victoria wrote about her journey in her diary.
She did not know that thousands of poor children worked in factories and mills① in terrible conditions. They never went to school and often died at a young age. She also learned that working people lived in small, dark houses and were often hungry.
On Victoria’s seventeenth birthday her German cousin, Prince Albert, came to visit her. Victoria liked him immediately. Her mother thought Prince Albert was the ideal husband and Victoria agreed!
At five in the morning on 20 June 1837 Victoria received the news: King William IV died that night and she was now the Queen! She was only eighteen and knew very little about government or politics. At half past eleven that morning she went to meet her advisers, the Privy Councillors②. She spoke and behaved calmly, and everyone admired her. The young Queen now lived at Buckingham Palace, away from the strict control of her mother. Victoria enjoyed going to the opera and the ballet, and began horse riding. Since she was short (almost 5 foot = 1.5 meters) she felt taller on a horse!
Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, was the most important person in Victoria’s early years as Queen. He was a kind and loyal friend. He gave her advice and helped her understand politics and government.
In 1839 Victoria’s cousin, Albert, visited her again. This is what she wrote in her diary: “Albert really is quite charming and so excessively handsome. My heart is quite going③.” Victoria loved Albert and proposed to him! (Albert could not propose because he was of lower rank.) They were married in 1840. Victoria and Albert loved each other very much. She called him “an angel.” However, Albert was a foreigner and not everyone liked him. Parliament did not give Albert a title and many Londoners said rude things about him.
Albert was intelligent, well-educated and responsible. He was very interested in science, music and the arts. Victoria learned from Albert to be a dedicated monarch. The Queen asked for his help on government affairs and they always worked together.
② Privy Councillors：作为国王顾问的枢密院官员。
③ quite going：心跳加速。
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