How voracious Victoria got her teenage kicks: When the Queen came to the throne she was a party-loving 18-year-old who wanted to enjoy life
- Queen's diaries hint she was 'besotted' with Prime Minister, Melbourne
- Lord Melbourne was Victoria's first love and she was his last conquest
- After his death Victoria burnt all the letters he had written to her
- Went on to have passionate marriage to Prince Albert and nine children
The Queen seems almost besotted with her Prime Minister,’ wrote the courtier and diarist Charles Greville. ‘Her feelings for him are sexual if she but knew it’...
These words come as quite a shock to most of us. Queen Victoria as an amorous young woman? In love with Lord Melbourne, a ‘silver fox’ more than old enough to be her father? It hardly seems credible, so used are we to thinking of the frumpy widow in black.
Yet when the 18-year-old Queen came to the throne she was indeed a party-loving teenager who wanted to enjoy life.
When the 18-year-old Queen Victoria came to the throne she was indeed a party-loving teenager who wanted to enjoy life
It was this side of her that I discovered through her diaries and letters while researching the script for our new drama, Victoria, which starts next week.
I became convinced that it was time to bring her early life to the screen – and in particular the story of this passionate friendship with her first Prime Minister. It is a story that has never really been told
Victoria was immediately taken with the charming peer, still handsome at 57, who like a 19th Century Boris Johnson was as famous for his romantic involvements as he was for his political views.
It would be difficult to think of a greater contrast between the worldly Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell, and the sheltered teenager, played by Jenna Coleman, who woke up that morning to find herself the most powerful woman in the world.
Yet it turned into one of the most important relationships of Victoria’s life.
She met him on the day in June 1837 when she became Queen, and he was only the second man she had ever been alone with.
Melbourne was Victoria’s first love and the Queen was the Prime Minister’s last conquest. ‘I am sure that none of your friends are as fond of you as I am, dear Lord M,’ she wrote.
Victoria was immediately taken with the Prime Minister, still handsome at 57, who like a 19th Century Boris Johnson
It was a relationship that was hidden in plain view, eclipsed by Victoria’s famous devotion to her husband Albert, but in many ways it was the formative influence of her life.
We may think of Victoria as an old bag in a bonnet but her life was as charged with passion as anything in Versailles or even, whisper it, Poldark.
Queen Victoria liked her men. There was her passionate 20-year marriage to Prince Albert that produced nine children.
After his death there was her amitié amoureuse with her ghillie John Brown, and then in the last decade of her life, her close friendship with her Indian servant, the Munshi.
But Melbourne was the first man to make Victoria feel like a woman.
Reading the diaries that she kept at the time, even though they were heavily censored, is to discover a record of the young Victoria’s obsession with her Prime Minister: she records his views on everything from earrings – ‘Lord M thinks they are barbarous’ – to cannibalism and flogging.
Melbourne was Victoria’s first love and the Queen was the Prime Minister’s last conquest
They spent the best part of every day together; he decided to act as her unofficial private secretary so every morning they went through her boxes together, then went riding in Hyde Park in the afternoon, and Melbourne had dinner at the palace most evenings.
Victoria wrote in her diary three months after becoming Queen: ‘I have seen a great deal of him every day these last five weeks and I have always found him in a good humour, kind, good and most agreeable; I have seen him in my Closet for Political Affairs.
I have ridden out with him (every day), I have sat near him constantly at and after dinner and talked about all sorts of things.’
We may think of Victoria as an old bag in a bonnet but her life was as charged with passion as anything in Versailles or even, whisper it, Poldark
Melbourne’s attention was hugely welcome to Victoria, because before she became Queen she was kept a virtual prisoner at Kensington Palace by her mother and by her power-hungry adviser, Sir John Conroy; she was forced to sleep in her mother’s bedroom, and was not even allowed to walk down the stairs on her own.
So to have one of the most charming men in the country as her constant companion was intoxicating – the more so because Victoria had never known her father, the Duke of Kent, as he had died when she was a baby.
Melbourne taught her about government, how to make conversation with strangers and helped her turn from a shy girl into a poised young queen.
More surprising, perhaps, was how ready Melbourne was to dance attendance on the vivid young queen. He was a man who loved the company of women, but whose romantic life had been studded with disaster.
His marriage to the tempestuous Lady Caroline Lamb had gone terribly wrong when she fell publicly in love with the poet Lord Byron.
Queen Victoria liked her men. There was her passionate 20-year marriage to Prince Albert that produced nine children
When Byron ended the affair, ‘Caro’ had a nervous breakdown and behaved very badly, even sending the poet a letter containing her pubic hair.
Melbourne’s mother begged him to divorce her but, to his credit, he refused, and he looked after her until her death in 1828.
They had one child, a boy called Augustus, who had epilepsy – but unlike most parents at the time he did not hide his disabled child away, but looked after him tenderly until Augustus’s death in 1834.
The year before Victoria became Queen, the Prime Minister had become friendly with a beautiful woman called Caroline Norton.
When Norton left her husband, a Tory MP, because of his drunken behaviour, the husband became convinced that his wife and Melbourne were having an affair.
After trying to blackmail Melbourne for £10,000, which he refused to pay, the MP sued him for having what was then called a ‘criminal conversation’ with his wife. Melbourne was forced to appear in court, but was acquitted by the jury.
One shot from the ITV series showed Jenna, 30, in a tiara and royal blue dress as she cosied up to Rufus Sewell - who plays former Prime Minister Lord Melbourne
The scandal nearly brought down the Government, but Melbourne’s career survived the affair. But it meant an end to his friendship with Mrs Norton and so, like Victoria, he was ready for a new relationship.
The closeness between the young Queen and her Prime Minister quickly became the subject of gossip and the rumours gained more currency as Victoria appointed the wives of Melbourne’s friends as her ladies in waiting.
In some circles the Queen was known as Mrs Melbourne. When Melbourne lost a vote in the House and decided to resign, Victoria burst into tears when he told her and said to him: ‘Do you really mean to forsake me?’
This is one of the many lines in the TV series that I took from Victoria’s diaries. This is not the way that a sovereign addresses a Prime Minister, but the cry of a heartbroken young girl to the man she loves.
This was a lovesick teenager. Recalling the situation in her diaries, Victoria wrote: ‘I sobbed much, again held Lord Melbourne’s hand in mine, and kept holding it for some time… as if I felt in doing so he could not leave me.’
The closeness between the young Queen and her Prime Minister quickly became the subject of gossip
OF course, the intimacy between Victoria and Melbourne could only last as long as she was single. Rumours circulated that she might marry her Prime Minister, but my feeling from reading their letters and diaries is that while she may have wished for this, Melbourne knew it was impossible.
Not only was he so much older than her, but it would break all precedent for a Queen to marry a subject – and a politician at that.
I think that he knew he had to keep her at arm’s length for her own sake. Certainly, the bond between Victoria and Melbourne could not survive the arrival of Prince Albert, who married the Queen in 1840.
Victoria turned all her passion on to her new husband with whom she was physically besotted. Victoria was the one Victorian maiden who did not lie back and think of England but obviously enjoyed sex as much as her husband did.
When Melbourne lost the Election in 1841, he passed pretty much out of her life. There is a sad story of how Melbourne was driving in his carriage past Buckingham Palace and saw Victoria and Albert through the window lighting candles on their Christmas tree. He could not be part of that idyllic family life.
Soon after this he had a stroke and his health declined rapidly. I can’t help thinking that he died of a broken heart. After his death Victoria burnt all the letters he had written to her.
She didn’t want the world to know how close they had been. But one record of their close relationship that cannot be erased is the fact that the Australian city of Melbourne is named after him. It is the capital, of course, of the state of Victoria.
Victoria was the one Victorian maiden who did not lie back and think of England but obviously enjoyed sex as much as her husband did
Victoria starts next Sunday at 9pm on ITV. Victoria, A Novel Of A Young Queen, by Daisy Goodwin, is published on October 20 by Headline
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3751014/How-voracious-Victoria-got-teenage-kicks-Queen-came-throne-party-loving-18-year-old-wanted-enjoy-life.html#ixzz4Hv4PH5CY
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