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Becoming Queen Victoria

The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain's Greatest Monarch

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In her lauded biography England’s Mistress, Kate Williams painted a vivid and intimate portrait of Emma Hamilton, the lover of English national hero Lord Horatio Nelson. Now, with the same keen insight and gift for telling detail, Williams provides a gripping account of Queen Victoria’s rise to the throne and her early years in power—as well as the tragic, little-known story of the princess whose demise made it all possible.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century, monarchies across Europe found themselves in crisis. With mad King George III and his delinquent offspring tarnishing the realm, the English pinned their hopes on the only legitimate heir to the throne: the lovely and prudent Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince of Wales and granddaughter of the king. Sadly, those dreams faded when, at age twenty-one, she died after a complicated pregnancy and stillbirth. While a nation grieved, Charlotte’s power-hungry uncles plotted quickly to produce a new heir. Only the Duke of Kent proved successful in his endeavor, with the birth of a girl named Victoria.
Writing with a combination of novelistic flair and historical precision, Williams reveals an energetic and vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations behind Victoria’s struggle to occupy the throne—scheming that continued even after the crown was placed on her head.

Upon hearing of the death of her predecessor, King William IV, Victoria—in her bold first act as queen—banished her overambitious mother from the room, a simple yet resolute move that would set the tone for her reign. The queen clashed constantly not only with her mother and her mother’s adviser, the Irish adventurer John Conroy, but with her ministers and even her beloved Prince Albert, all of whom, in one way or another, attempted to seize control from her.

By connecting Charlotte’s sad fate to Victoria’s majestic rule, Kate Williams lays bare the passions that swirled around the throne—the court secrets, the sexual repression, and the endless intrigue. The result is a grand and satisfying tale of a woman whose destiny began long before she was born and whose legacy lives on.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jun 21, 2010 – Williams tells the story of two royal women whose lives were intricately linked and who gave hope to the British people in a turbulent period when they were ruled by the boorish, hedonistic prince regent, later George IV. The first woman was Princess Charlotte, he daughter and only child of George IV and Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte was neglected by her self-centered parents. But during the chaotic era of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain invested its hope for a stable future and a principled ruler in the pretty, and politically liberal princess, But Charlotte's 1817 death following delivery of a stillborn infant led to a royal baby-making competition, resulting in the birth of Victoria, whom the British adored from infancy. A passionate, impulsive, fun-seeking girl, Victoria was bullied by a power-crazed mother and used by Charlotte's husband, Leopold, the ambitious Belgian king, who engineered Victoria's marriage to his nephew Albert. Despite some careless writing and editing, Independent British historian Williams's (England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton) latest is an informative, entertaining, gossipy tale of two beloved Hanoverian princesses, one of whom became England's longest-reigning monarch. 16 pages of color photos.

Customer Reviews

Becoming Queen Victoria...Give Me More!

This was an absolutely fascinating account of the years leading up to the reign of Queen Victoria and the early years of her reign. The book ends with the death of her beloved Albert and a rapid overview of her later years. I would love to see a companion that picks up where this book ended. A very well written account, this book is less about the Queen and more about the person Victoria was. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the royal family.

Becoming Queen Victoria
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  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Aug 10, 2010
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 464 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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