In the Days of Queen Victoria
Eva March Tappan
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A very sanitised version of the life of Queen Victoria, written primarily, it seems, for younger readers, but still of interest to others. The book follows the Queen from her birth to her death.
This book has 178 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1903.
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Excerpt from 'In the Days of Queen Victoria'
"Elizabeth would be a good name for her," said the Duke of Kent. "Elizabeth was the greatest woman who ever sat on the throne of England. The English people are used to the name, and they like it."
"But would the Emperor Alexander be pleased?" asked the Duchess. "If he is to be godfather, ought she not to be named for him?"
"Alexandra—no; Alexandrina," said the Duke thoughtfully. "Perhaps you are right. 'Queen Alexandrina' has a good sound, and the day may come when the sovereign of England will be as glad of the friendship of the Emperor of Russia as the Regent is to-day."
"Are you so sure, Edward, that she will be a sovereign?" asked his wife with a smile.
"Doesn't she look like a queen?" demanded the Duke. "Look at her golden hair and her blue eyes! There, see how she put her hand out, just as if she was giving a command! I don't believe any baby a week old ever did that before. The next time I review the troops she shall go with me. You're a soldier's daughter, little one. Come and see the world that you are to conquer." He lifted the tiny baby, much to the displeasure of the nurse, and carried her across the room to the window that looked out upon Kensington Garden. "Now, little one," he whispered into the baby's ear, "they don't believe us and we won't talk about it, but you'll be queen some day."
"Is that the way every father behaves with his first baby?" asked the Duchess.
"They're much alike, your Grace," replied the nurse rather grimly, as she followed the Duke to the window with a blanket on her arm. The Duke was accustomed to commanding thousands of men, and every one of them trembled if his weapons and uniform were not spotless, or if he had been guilty of the least neglect of duty. In more than one battle the Duke had stood so firmly that he had received the thanks of Parliament for his bravery and fearlessness. He would never have surrendered a city to a besieging army, but now he had met his match, and he laid the baby in the nurse's arms with the utmost meekness.
The question of a name for the child was not yet decided, for the wishes of someone else had to be considered, and that was the Prince Regent, the Duke's older brother, George. He thought it proper that his niece should be named Georgiana in honor of himself.
"Georgiana let it be," said the Duke of Kent, "her first name shall be Alexandrina."
"Then Georgiana it shall not be," declared the Prince Regent. "No niece of mine shall put my name second to any king or emperor here in my own country. Call her Alexandrina Alexandra Alexander, if you choose, but she'll not be called Alexandrina Georgiana."
When the time for the christening had arrived the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London came to Kensington in company with the crimson velvet curtains from the chapel at St. James' and a beautiful golden font which had been taken from the Tower for the baptism of the royal baby. The Archbishop and the Bishop, the Prince Regent, and another brother of the Duke of Kent, who was to represent the Emperor of Russia as godfather, all stood around the golden font in the magnificent cupola room, the grand saloon of Kensington Palace. The godmothers were the child's grandmother and aunt, and they were represented by English princesses. All the royal family were present.
After the prayers had been said and the promises of the sponsors made, the Archbishop took the little Princess in his arms and, turning to the godfathers and the godmothers, he said: "Name this child."
"Alexandrina," responded the Duke of York.
"Give her another name," bade the Duke of Kent in a low tone.
"Name her for her mother, then," said the Prince Regent to the Archbishop, and the baby was christened Alexandrina Victoria.
It made little difference to either the Duke or the baby how the Prince Regent might feel about her name, for the Duke was the happiest of fathers, and the little Drina, as the Princess was called, was a merry, sweet-tempered baby. Everyone at Kensington loved her, and over the sea was a grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Coburg, who could hardly wait for the day to come when she would be able to see the child. "How pretty the little Mayflower will be," she wrote, "when I see it in a year's time." Another letter said: "The English like queens, and the niece of the beloved Princess Charlotte will be most dear to them." Princess Charlotte was the only child of Prince George, and the nation had loved her and longed to have her for their queen. She had married Leopold, the brother of the Duchess of Kent, and had died only two years before "Princess Drina" was born.
The succession to the English crown was in a peculiar condition. The king, George III., had become insane, and his eldest son, George, was ruling as Prince Regent. If the Regent lived longer than his father, he would become George IV. His next younger brother was Frederick, Duke of York; then came William, Duke of Clarence; and then the Duke of Kent. George and Frederick had no children, and William's baby girl died on the very day that the Princess Alexandrina was born. If these three brothers died without children, the Duke of Kent would become king; but even then, if the Duke should have a son, the law was that he, rather than the daughter, should inherit the crown. The baby Princess, then, stood fifth in the succession to the throne, and a child born to any one of these three uncles, or a son born to her father, would remove her still further from sovereignty.