03 August 2010

Tragic Tales: Victoria & Albert

By Isabel Roman

I was going to do something much less well known but scheduled myself for the Tuesday after RWA. Now it's 8am on Monday and do I have anything? Nope. This'll teach me!

Prince Albert (1819-1861), the consort of Queen Victoria. Theirs was a love affair that enchants us even now. Witness the success of the movie, The Young Victoria. Even though the people of Great Britain didn't really like Albert, and he wasn't granted the title of Prince Consort until 17 years after his marriage to Victoria, he was extremely intelligent and far-thinking.

Without him, we wouldn't have had The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations of 1851. He was an excellent diplomat and statesman, as well as someone who valued the history of his adopted country.

But it's his death on December 14, 1861 that caused a shift in what is commonly referred to as The Victorian Era. Two things happened because of his death:

1. Victoria entered into mourning and never exited, thereby establishing a stringent mourning ritual that lasted decades.
2. England sprouted monuments to him that stand to this day, including the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The official cause of death was typhoid fever, though there were no other reported cases. There has been speculation that Albert died of stomach cancer.

Benjamin Disraeli, a future prime minister, declared, "With Prince Albert we have buried our Sovereign. This German Prince has governed England for twenty-one years with a wisdom and energy such as none of our kings has ever shown."