Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and spent most of her childhood here. This year sees her 200th anniversary and Kensington Palace has opened two brilliant exhibitions to celebrate the life of this young princess.
Queen Victoria : A Royal Childhood
A Royal Childhood takes you through re-imagined suites of rooms where Victoria would have spent her time. In her later life we are led to believe her childhood was unhappy – in fact her diaries tell a different tale.
Aside from the ‘Kensington System’, which were the strict rules she had to adhere to, Victoria escaped into her world of imaginary play. She loved to draw and write and this was all inspired by her love of the arts. Victoria went to the theatre and opera at least three times a week, often seeing one show straight after another.
It is well worth taking your time over all the details that are here; from the superb portraits, the private letters, the hand made dolls, toys, the theatre, and the room where she was born.
Each area gives you such insight into this young woman’s life. This exhibition is wonderful at recreating important moments. One room has cleverly re created the young Victoria dancing, and another has the bed she travelled with – it is tiny.
“They say no sovereign was more loved than I am and that from our happy domestic home, which gives such a good example”
Queen Victoria : Woman and Crown
Woman and Crown reveals a more personal side to Queen Victoria focusing on life after she ascended the throne. There are some wonderful items on display from her wardrobe. Victoria’s exquisite hand-stitched petticoat with fine french lace, to the outfit she wore to open the Great Exhibition, and her silk mourning dresses after Albert died.
The ‘Secret Portrait’ Victoria commissioned for Albert is more stunning than you can ever imagine. It is just one of many paintings here which complement and illustrate the story of this highly influential monarch.
Walking through this exhibition you are left in no doubt how strong, but also how human Victoria was. Her history is the most fascinating story. It is an incredible insight into so many unseen aspects of her private life.
This is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions I have been to and enjoyed. You need far longer than the 90 minutes to really appreciate what the curators have achieved.
Queen Victoria : Extra’s
Kensington Palace tickets for both exhibitions buy here
Victoria : The brilliant series 3 of Victoria is out on DVD here
Looking for somewhere to eat, look at our Day Out in South Kensington
Victoria in London – See our guide here