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Serving Victoria

Life in the Royal Household

Kate Hubbard

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Description

During her sixty-three-year reign, Queen Victoria gathered around herself a household dedicated to her service. For some, royal employment was the defining experience of their lives; for others it came as an unwelcome duty or as a prelude to greater things. Serving Victoria follows the lives of six members of her household, from the governess to the royal children, from her maid of  honor to her chaplain and her personal physician.

Drawing on their letters and diaries—many hitherto unpublished—Serving Victoria offers a unique insight into the Victorian court, with all its frustrations and absurdities, as well as the Queen herself, sitting squarely at its center. Seen through the eyes of her household as she traveled among Windsor, Osborne, and Balmoral, and to the French and Belgian courts, Victoria emerges as more vulnerable, more emotional, more selfish, more comical, than the austere figure depicted in her famous portraits. We see a woman who was prone to fits of giggles, who wept easily and often, who gobbled her food and shrank from confrontation but insisted on controlling the lives of those around her. We witness her extraordinary and debilitating grief at the death of her husband, Albert, and her sympathy toward the tragedies that afflicted her household.

Witty, astute, and moving, Serving Victoria is a perfect foil to the pomp and circumstance—and prudery and conservatism—associated with Victoria's reign, and gives an unforgettable glimpse of what it meant to serve the Queen.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 18, 2013 – Drawing on letters and diaries, Hubbard (Queen Victoria) follows six courtiers who served Queen Victoria during her 63-year reign as they chafe under the constraints of court life, dine and travel with the Queen, and even indulge in the occasional joke at her expense. Kindly Sarah Lyttelton, supervisor of the nursery, witnessed a monarch who compulsively controlled those around her and even saw children as an impediment to her life with Prince Albert. Beautiful, intelligent Charlotte Canning, lady of the bedchamber and an accomplished watercolorist whose work Victoria appropriated for her souvenir albums, found court life a welcome respite from her humiliating marriage. Spirited feminist Mary Ponsonby, maid-of-honor, found the Victorian court to be “ludicrously bourgeois and exceedingly dull,” while her modest husband Henry masterfully played the Queen’s complex and contradictory character to his advantage. Later in life, Victoria was outraged when her easygoing, gregarious doctor, James Reid, decided to marry; and sympathetic chaplain Randall Davidson also angered her when he counseled against publication of her inappropriate memoir of her deceased servant, John Brown. Although hardly controversial, this is an engrossing and fresh view of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and day-to-day life at the Victorian court. 16 pages of illus. and photos.

Customer Reviews

Very Interesting

A good idea for structuring this book. With the help of different letters, diaries and memoirs a lot is learned about Victoria and how she lived. Much of the information is not exactly surprising, since Victoria lived a long time and a lot has already been written about her. Her lords and ladies in waiting, doctors, clerics and children were not exactly the "downstairs" types, but they definitely were "in service". They tended to be honorable and discrete, but all together they knew a lot a about how things were with the royals. The book is often very funny, sometimes pathetic and often shows the petty bickering and jealousies all too well.

Serving Victoria
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 30, 2013
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 448 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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