Queen victoria

What was the secret of Queen Victoria’s rebel daughter?

Princess Louise (1848–1939), Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, was the prettiest and liveliest of the five princesses, and the only one who broke out of the royal bubble. Artistically talented, she trained as a sculptor, and her marble statue of Queen Victoria can still be seen in Kensington Gardens. Unlike her sisters, who all married royals, Louise became the wife of a commoner, Lord Lorne, later Duke of Argyll. The marriage was childless and unhappy, and the couple lived separate lives. Like that other rebel, Princess Margaret, Louise was clever but difficult. She could be charming and witty one moment and unexpectedly disagreeable the next. She kicked against the royal rules,

Clash of the titans

This is an odd book: interesting, informative, intelligent, but still decidedly odd. It is a history of the Victorian era which almost entirely eschews wars and imperial adventures and concentrates instead on the social, political and intellectual climate of the times.  This is still a vast spectrum. Simon Heffer concludes that he must decide which facets deserve attention and picks out those which interest and entertain him most; hence the occasional oddity. Can the building of the Albert Memorial really be worth 30 pages? Or the conflict over the style of architecture to be adopted for the new government buildings in Whitehall be worth 20? Fortunately, Heffer is not only

Queen Victoria, by Matthew Dennison – review

When Prince Albert died in 1861, aged 42, Queen Victoria, after briefly losing the use of her legs, ordered that every room and corridor in Windsor Castle should be draped in black crepe. As a result, the country’s entire stock of black crepe was exhausted in a single week. One of the key factors of Victoria’s reign for Michael Dennison is that it was — not always consciously — a ‘performance monarchy’, in which the Queen sat in carefully fashioned stage-sets at Windsor, Balmoral or Osborne being discreetly ogled by the populace. This public posturing helped gloss over Victoria’s ‘dizzying’ contradictions, and the purpose of this short biography is to

Disraeli, by Douglas Hurd; The Great Rivalry, by Dick Leonard – review

‘Who the hell is Disraeli?’ This, as a gleeful footnote in Douglas Hurd and Edward Young’s new book reminds us, was the response of John Prescott when asked on television what he made of Ed Miliband’s speech last year extolling the virtues of Dizzy’s world-view. Actually — as their book goes on to make clear — Prescott asked the right question. Who the hell was Disraeli? He certainly wasn’t anything close to what posterity — in search of a Tory Great Man — has made of him. Not only, they tell us in this vigorously debunking romp through his political life, did he never use the phrases ‘One Nation’ or