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Queen Victoria's Children

Past display archive
2 September 2008 - 15 March 2009

Room 24 case display


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert married in 1840 and, over the next eighteen years, had nine children. During a period of high infant mortality, even among the upper classes, the queen was fortunate to suffer no miscarriages or stillbirths, and all her children survived into adulthood. While Queen Victoria reigned sovereign over the country, the royal couple adopted traditional gender roles within the home. Albert had authority on domestic matters. He created comfortable homes for his family at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and at the Scottish castle, Balmoral, and determined how the children were brought up and educated.

The image of domestic happiness cultivated by Victoria and Albert was in contrast to the scandals and excesses that had typified the reigns of Victoria's uncles George IV and William IV. The growing availability of photography meant that, for the first time, the public could see what the royal family really looked like and collect their images. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria sought comfort and companionship with her children, but struggled to adjust to their growing independence. The children married into almost every major European royal family, and Queen Victoria became known as the 'Grandmother of Europe'. Prince Albert had hoped that this network of marriages would secure peace across the continent, but war and revolution in the early twentieth century dissolved many of these family allegiances.

Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse
by Mayall & Co, after John Jabez Edwin Mayall
1890s (February 1861)
NPG x4190

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