May 24, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Britain’s Queen Victoria. The event took place at Kensington Palace when Victoire, the Duchess of Kent (1786-1861), wife of Prince Edward (1767-1820), Duke of Kent (fourth son of King George III), gave birth to a baby girl.
Queen Victoria, 1859
by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Franz Xaver Winterhalter creator QS:P170,Q168659, Queen Victoria - Winterhalter 1859, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
A certain amount of drama had preceded Princess Victoria’s birth. For one thing, there had been a mad scramble among King George III’s sons to marry and beget legitimate heirs, hence the Duke of Kent’s marriage to the widowed Victoire, the widowed Princess of Leiningen. As it turned out, in 1818 the Duke and Duchess of Kent married in a double ceremony that included the Duke’s older brother, the Duke of Clarence and Prince Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.
After they married, the Duke and Duchess of Kent had resided not in England but in Amorbach in Germany owing to the fact that it was much more economical for the couple to live there. By November 1818, it was apparent that the Duchess of Kent was expecting a child. Though the Clarences were also expecting a child, there was no doubt that the Kents’ unborn child was still a possible future heir. The Duke of Kent was thus advised to bring his wife to England for her confinement.
In March 1818, the Duke and Duchess of Kent began their journey back to England. The journey was planned to cover about twenty-five miles per day. By the third week of April, the Kents had arrived at Calais in northern France. A week later, the Duke and Duchess of Kent arrived in England. The couple was given a suite of rooms at Kensington Palace in London as their home – the place where their unborn child was set to see the light of day. The birth took place on Monday, May 24, 1819 at Kensington Palace in the early hours of the morning. The baby girl was the Duchess of Kent’s third child and was destined to be the first and only child of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. The baby’s christening took place in the Cupola Room of Kensington Palace in June in a ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury. A tussle over the baby’s name ensued and in the end, her uncle, the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) declared that the child’s names should be ‘Alexandrina Victoria’ in honor of her godfather, Emperor Alexander I of Russia and her mother, the Duchess of Kent. The baby Princess was known by the nickname ‘Drina’ and also as she grew older, by the regnal name she was to take, ‘Victoria.’
The arrival of Princess Victoria was a welcome addition to the British royal family as her birth helped secure the line of succession. When Princess Victoria was born in 1819, she was fifth in line to the throne. In 1837 the Princess succeeded her uncle, King William IV, to the British throne and became Queen Victoria, reigning until her death in January 1901.
The Cupola Room, Kensington Palace, where Princess Victoria was christened
Thomas Sutherland after Richard Cattermole, Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. SUTHERLAND, Thomas (b. 1785) after Richard CATTERMOLE (1795-1858), marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
Princess Victoria, aged four
by Stephen Poyntz Denning
Denning, Stephen Poyntz (c. 1787 - 1864) – Artist Details of artist on Google Art Project, Denning, Stephen Poyntz - Princess Victoria aged Four - Google Art Project, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons