WINDSOR BRIDES

The Fairy Tale Brides of Britain

                                                           HM Queen Victoria

 

Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India and British Raj, Princess of Hanover, Duchess of Brunswick and Lunenburg, Princess of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, Duchess in Saxony

 

Born: 24 MAY 1819, Kensington Palace, London, England
Ascent:  28 JUN 1838, Westminster Abbey, London, England
Died: 22 JAN 1901, Osborne House, Isle of Wight, England    
Interred: Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore, Windsor Castle, England                                                                 

To Albert Augustus, Prince of Sax-Coburg Gotha

Born: 26 AUG 1819, Schloss Rosenau, Near Coburg, Germany
Died: 14 DEC 1861, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England
Interred: 1862 Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore, Windsor, England

Married: 10 FEB 1840, Chapel Royal, St.James Palace, England  

 

Queen Victoria was the first royal bride of the Windsor Line, though they did not take the title Windsor until her grandson was King in World War I. The marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg Gotha was a happy and loving one. After his death she never ceased to mourn for him until her own death in 1901.

By 1836, the idea of marriage between Albert and his cousin, Victoria, had arisen in the mind of their ambitious uncle, Leopold, who had been King of the Belgians since 1831. At this time, Victoria was the heir to the British throne. Her father, Edward August, Duke Of Kent, the fourth son of King George III, had died when she was a baby, and her elderly uncle, William IV was king. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, Victoria of Saxe - Coburg Saalfeld was the sister of both Albert's father, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and the former husband of Charlotte, Princess of Wales, Leopold, King of the Belgians. Leopold arranged for his sister, Victoria's mother, to invite the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his two sons to visit her in May 1836, with the purpose of meeting Victoria. King William IV, however, disapproved of any match with the Coburgs, and instead favored the suit of Prince Alexander second son of William II of the Netherlands. Victoria was well-aware of the various matrimonial plans and critically appraised a parade of eligible princes. She wrote, "Albert is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same color as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful." Alexander, on the other hand, was "very plain".

Victoria wrote to her uncle Leopold to thank him "for the prospect of great happiness you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert ... He possesses every quality that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. Although the parties did not undertake a formal engagement, both the family and their retainers widely assumed that the match would take place.

Victoria came to the throne aged just eighteen on 20 June 1837. Her letters of the time show interest in Albert's education for the role he would have to play, although she resisted attempts to rush her into marriage. In the winter of 1838–39, the prince visited Italy, accompanied by the Coburg family's confidential adviser, Baron Stockmar.

Albert returned to England with Ernest in October 1839 to visit the Queen, with the object of settling the marriage. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839. Victoria's intention to marry was declared formally to the Privy Council on 23 November, and the couple married on 10 February 1840 at the Chapel Royal at St James Palace

Just before the marriage, Albert was naturalized by Act of Parliament, and granted the style of His Royal Highness by an Order In Council. At first, he was not popular with the British public. He was perceived to be from an impoverished and undistinguished minor state, barely larger than a small English county. The British Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, advised the Queen against granting her husband the title of King Consort. Parliament even refused to make Albert a peer partly because of anti-German feeling and a desire to exclude Albert from any political role.  Melbourne led a minority government and the opposition took advantage of the marriage to weaken his position further. They opposed the ennoblement of Albert and granted him a smaller annuity than previous consorts, £30,000 instead of the usual £50,000. Albert claimed that he had no need of a British peerage; he wrote, "It would almost be step downwards, for as a Duke of Saxony, I feel myself much higher than as a Duke of York or Kent." For the next seventeen years, Albert was formally titled "HRH Prince Albert" until, on 25 June 1857, Victoria formally granted him the title Prince Consort.