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Lunchtime Lecture: Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy

5 September 2019, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Prince Albert by A N Wilson

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy, A.N.Wilson’s latest biography, is a companion-piece to his Victoria. It is based entirely on original archival research and tells the story of the multi-talented boy who came to marry his cousin Victoria in 1840. Politically astute, he learnt from the Prime Minister, Robert Peel, the kind of role which a monarchy could exercise in a post-revolutionary Europe and a post-industrial Britain. Albert arrived with all-but-overwhelming emotional baggage, the history of his parents’ catastrophic and scandalous divorce, and the determination to live a monogamous life; and to use the birth of many children as a way of extending, by dynastic marriage, the notions of political liberalism, representative parliamentary democracy, and enlightened educational ideas, throughout Europe.

If his pan-European visions were unsuccessful, he nonetheless brought blessings to Britain. His cultivation of the arts, his understanding of science and technology, his political nous and his organizational skills were all qualities which led to his greatest triumph, the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the establishment, with its proceeds, of the “Albertopolis” – Imperial College, the V and A, the Royal Albert Hall, and so much besides. The reform of the University of which he was Chancellor – Cambridge – led to modern higher education in Britain. His encouragement of industry, commerce, technological advance, army reform, and so much else besides, make him one of the key figures in the Victorian success story. And yes, as the other European dynasties – the Habsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Bonapartes marched confidently towards revolution and extinction, Albert modernized the British model and created a plausible alternative – constitutional monarchy – to the dictatorships of the twentieth century. He was by far the most valuable German import this country ever made.

A.N. WILSON grew up in Staffordshire and was educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is a prolific and award-winning biographer and celebrated novelist.

Priority booking for Gallery Members is open now. Public booking will open on Thursday 8 August 2019.