Sunday, March 29, 2009

A real, true peek....

Here is a real, true peek into what Queen Victoria's life was like--just before she became Queen. It truly is. Let me know what you think!

The man sat comfortably in the carriage as he held the while envelope. Soon he would be there and it would be time. He would not put up with anything getting in the way of what he had to do. He fully intended to complete his errand and if anyone tried to prevent him from doing so…there would certainly be trouble.

Holding the envelope with the seal, he watched the passing landscape as he thought about what loomed ahead. He hoped for everyone’s sake it would go smoothly. He noted that they were close to the residence now and he sighed. He would feel relieved when all this was done with.

After awhile, he could hear the crunching of little stones as the carriage slowed up near the entrance. Soon he would be at the door and he would not waver. Waiting until the carriage was at a full stop, he let himself out. The dust flew up and he dusted off his pants quickly as he approached the door.

He knocked and it was opened by a butler who admitted him into the royal residence. Being the Lord Chamberlain, there was no need to introduce himself. “I have a letter for Her Royal Highness, Princess Victoria,” he said.

“Come in, sir.”

He waited by the door, in no rush. Several moments later Sir John Conroy walked into the large foyer. “Lord Conyngham...what a pleasure to see you again. Might you follow me into the study?”

The Lord Chamberlain’s voice was loud and firm. “That won’t be necessary, Sir Conroy. I am here on official business on behalf of His Majesty with the intention of seeing the Her Royal Highness, Princess Victoria.”

Conroy looked momentarily troubled. “Quite impossible, My Lord. She is in the middle of a lesson.”

“Disturb her then,” the Lord Chamberlain said sternly.

Conroy took a step towards the man. “That’s quite impossible as I said, My Lord. The Duchess has left strict instructions that she not be disturbed.”

“Then fetch the Duchess.”


“Or can she not be disturbed either, Conroy?”

“No, My Lord. I will get her at once.”

Lord Conyngham watched Conroy leave and he was a little amused. Conroy was certainly flustered. The King had never demanded anything like this before…insisting that a letter be placed in Her Royal Highnesses hands alone and nowhere else. He was not sure what the letter contained but he knew it was urgent. His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of footsteps approaching the foyer area.

The Duchess of Kent appeared through an enormous door, swathed in pale yellow, with her hair pulled back severely. Her face was radiant and smooth and she appeared solemn. She gave the Lord Chamberlain a quick smile.

“Good afternoon, My Lord. Now what is all this about? Sir Conroy says that you have an urgent need to see my daughter?”

“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” he began, bowing slightly, as Conroy stood behind the Duchess. “His Majesty, the King has sent me here with something for the Princess only. It is a letter that I hold in my hand. I must give it to the Princess herself and no one else.”

The Duchess looked down at his hand, and she clutched one side of her light yellow gown as if she was nervous. “Well, certainly, His Majesty could not have meant that I, her own mother, could not be trusted to hand it to her.”

Irritated, Lord Conyngham took the letter and held it up for the Duchess to see. “As you can see this has been sealed by the King and it indicates clearly that I am to show this to whom ever is in attendance, however, I must place it in the Princess’s hands myself. And I do intend to do that, Your Royal Highness. Do you wish me to wait until the Princess has finished her lesson?”

“Very well, then. She may receive it in my presence in the drawing room. Mr. Conroy, would you send word that the Princess should be interrupted and that she is required in the drawing room right now? And My Lord, please follow me into the drawing room and make yourself comfortable.” The Duchess turned daintily and walked slowly into the drawing room of light blue and gold, and took a seat close to the entrance doors. She wrung her hands. “Please do sit down, My Lord.”

“No thank you, Ma’am. I’ve been sitting in the carriage and my legs are quite cramped.”

“Indeed. Yes, I understand.”

It seemed a very long time, yet it was probably only minutes until Victoria entered the room. The Lord Chamberlain bowed. “Your Royal Highness.”

“Lord Conyngham…what a delight to see you again.”

“You’re very kind, ma’am. I’m here because His Majesty the King has sent me here, with the express purpose of handing you this letter personally.”

“Thank you very much,” the Princess said as she took the paper from him. Looking around, she absently opened it to see what it contained. Once she had read it thoroughly, The Lord Chamberlain made a polite goodbye.

“Thank you, My Lord,” the Princess said as he left the room.

Victoria re-read the letter again slowly and then looked at her mother. Knowing she had no choice but to allow her mother to read it too, she walked over to the Duchess and handed it to her.

The Duchess grabbed it and Victoria took a step back, almost in fear.

Conroy was standing quietly in the drawing room entrance.

“Well, well, well….” The Duchess said as she flattened the paper to her liking. “Isn’t this the most highly indignant thing that has ever taken place? He would try to be sneaky about it.” She looked over at Conroy.

“Quite sneaky of him, but typical,” Conroy agreed. .

The Duchess of Kent scanned the letter. “This is appalling! Sir Conroy, come look at this, at once!”

“Mamma,” Victoria pleaded. “It is my letter.”

“Your letter? No, dearest. What involves you involves me. You are much too young to fully understand such matters.”

“I fully understand,” Victoria said in a sharp tone, “that the King feels that I am entitled to my own allowance from the Privy Purse, to do with as I will, and that also means setting up my own household, which is the right and proper thing to do.”

“Oh really, my dear? And who is filling your head with such nonsense? It is not fitting for you to live alone or be alone. You are much too young and you are not married and it is beyond comprehension that anyone should try to separate us. I won’t have it!”

“You may not have a choice, Mamma.”

The Duchess glared at her daughter with narrowed eyes. “You would throw me aside, wouldn’t you? After everything I have done for you, after all the pain I have endured…you would push me aside as if I were nothing!”

Conroy stepped into the room, closer to the Duchess. “That would be most unkind and unforgivable…to throw your mother aside after she has devoted her whole life to your care. If word of it got out, you would appear very cruel, indeed.”

Furious, Victoria walked towards the door. The Duchess grabbed her arm as she passed. “You aren’t leaving me until I let you go. You are becoming most rude.”

“Me?” Victoria snapped. “You are the one insinuating I would throw you aside! You are the one whose mind is filled with nasty thoughts.”

Conroy shut the drawing room door and blocked the exit.

Victoria looked at him with hatred. “Are you trying to keep me prisoner, Mr. Conroy?”

“Victoria!” The Duchess screamed. “Sit down this instant! This instant!”

Victoria lowered herself into a chair at the sound of her mother’s bellowing voice. She couldn’t fight the two of them. Her knuckles were white as she clutched the side of the chair and her heart was pounding in her chest. .

“No one is leaving here until this matter has been settled, to everyone’s satisfaction,” the Duchess of Kent said shrilly. “As the mother to the future Queen, I will not be pushed aside like this after a lifetime of devotion and care, and allow you to leave here and set up your own household. No! It is not fitting or right, and the King is quite improper for even thinking such a thing!”

Conroy stayed near the door and the Duchess sat across from her daughter. She took deep breaths to try to calm herself. Victoria watched quietly, trying to feel nothing. It was just another day in the prison as far as she was concerned, and things could stay like this….well, for a long time. But, she would be eighteen soon, and that would count for something. She didn’t want to push her mother aside. She had no real wish to hurt her. But, as heir to the throne, she had every right to consider setting up her own household…a household more to her own liking. She couldn’t live like this any longer. Ten thousand pounds per year was quite generous, and indeed, she could probably live very well. She looked at the pale blue walls, and it occurred to her that the blue color was as light as the sky. It really was beautiful. She had never noticed before how soothing, yet crisp it was. Staring at it, her eyes began to water. She looked away. She wondered where her dog Dash was.

“What we shall do is this,” Victoria’s mother began. “You will write to the King that while you are thankful for his kind offer, you cannot accept it exactly as stated… concerning the matter of money, these funds are to be given to your Mother, whom you trust implicitly to do what is necessary.”

The Princess did not look at her mother.

“We shall allow Victoria control of four thousand pounds and I shall be in control of six thousand. I think that would be fair and would allow us both a certain amount of the amenities that should have been ours years ago and befitting of our stature and precedence. Mr. Conroy, do you think that is fair?”

Conroy nodded. “As usual, you are fair. You always do the right thing, in my opinion, for the family’s benefit and not for one person in particular.”

Victoria knew that the four thousand pounds she would receive would benefit her but, it would not be enough to run her very own household in a manner in which an heir to the Throne would be expected. Again, she would be forced to stay with her mother. One part of her heart was relieved that her mother would have additional funds—Mamma always seemed to be borrowing—but another part of her was enraged. As usual she had no say in any matter.

“And while we are at it, are you ready to sign the papers making Conroy your personal secretary, upon your accession to the Throne?”

“I will not,” Victoria hissed.

“Then you shall see no one. No more friends, no visitors, no one…..except your instructors. You may retire to you room now.”

What do you think? This is NOT from the movie.

Famed Author Discusses New Movie

Also compliments of Indie London

The Young Victoria - Julian Fellowes interview

Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JULIAN Fellowes, the acclaimed writer, actor, producer and director whose body of work includes writing Gosford Park and appearing in Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, talks about his involvement with The Young Victoria and why he wanted to tell the story of the younger part of her life.

He also explains why Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was instrumental in bringing the project to the big screen in the first place.

Q. What sparked your very clear enthusiasm for this part of Queen Victora’s life?
Julian Fellowes: I was just very interested long before this film because I read a book, by chance, and I realised how little I knew of her early years. If someone had said to me: “Do you know about Queen Victoria?” I probably would have said “yes”. But the Queen Victoria I knew was Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria… you know, short, fat, and dark and cross and living in Scotland with a handkerchief on her head. I hadn’t really understood the early life and if I had thought of it at all, I would have assumed that she had a very comfortable growing up, and that she was prepared for the throne, and then accepted it and that was that. I didn’t realise at all that she had survived this emotional battering in order to get there and was immediately fascinated by that.

Q. Could you tell us about the unique involvement of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, in this film?
Julian Fellowes: The Duchess of York had the original idea of making a film about the younger Queen Victoria. She knew [producer] Graham King and she ran into him in LA, I think, and said to him: “We’ve all seen the older Queen, we’ve all seen the widow, but nobody has seen Victoria and Albert as a younger woman and their marriage. We don’t know about the marriage she was in mourning for.” He was very taken with this idea and he decided he’d do it. I was then recruited and the only alteration I asked for was to nudge the story forward a bit so we got the Duchess and Lord Conroy and all the complexities of that.

So, it became the story of Albert essentially from the visit of 1836, when he came over with his brother, rather than only the marriage. They had this quite bumpy first year and then they settled into working together… when their desks were put together. So, she did have the original idea and every good film needs a good idea, so we’re all very, very grateful.

Q. Did she visit the set at all?
Julian Fellowes: She came for the Coronation Ball at Lancaster House. She came with both of the princesses. But that was it.

Q. How much research did you do into the period of the time?
Julian Fellowes: I knew quite a lot about the period anyway but, of course, when you get a job you then read up and read round it, and all the rest of it. I’m not a believer in modernising the thing, because I think that if you modernise it too much the actual quandry the characters are in ceases the exist. You start to think, “well why doesn’t she just leave him?” And you then fail to create the pressures within the storytelling that mean that wasn’t an option.

So, you have to have a fairly clear idea of the disciplines of that particular world to understand when they were in a spot. I mean, the problem of Victoria’s childhood… if you make it too modern you might think: “Well, don’t hold the hand when you go downstairs!” But that wasn’t the world they were in and that wasn’t a choice that was open to her. You have to show enough of the true detail the period to understand why they were in this predicament.

Q. What did French director Jean Marc Vallée bring to the material having not been someone who grew up with the same knowledge and appreciation of Queen Victoria that we may have?
Julian Fellowes: Well, I loved C.R.A.Z.Y and he said to me: “I’ve made a film about a dysfunctional family and I feel this is a film about another one.” He saw these people as a dysfunctional family, not as a series of dukes and duchesses and kings and queens. He saw them as a family whose business yoked them together even though they were completely disparate as personalities. That was his view of the thing, which I think is what comes across in the film.

Q. What was it like having Princess Beatrice on set?
Julian Fellowes: She was very good-natured actually. Most of being in a film is waiting – you have five minutes of action and then two and a half hours of waiting and that can be hard for people who aren’t used to it in terms of what they do with their brains for that time. But I thought she was very patient. She’s a very nice girl.

Q. How much did your name help to get access to some of the locations used?
Julian Fellowes: That was entirely my address book! [Laughs] No, I don’t think Julian Fellowes opens Julian Fellowes’ door! But they really were wonderful locations. The one I loved best, actually, was the least famous, Ditchley. Blenheim and Wilton are the great houses of England, but Ditchley Park is much smaller than that and fantastically pretty. I loved it. It was Queen Victoria’s private sitting room. But seriously, we got in because of a handsome cheque book!

Q. Do you think there was a plot at the time to put as many Colburgs as possible on the thrones of Europe?
Julian Fellowes: Oh there definitely was a plot. It’s a most extraordinary story… but this funny little Dukal house of Colburg, which was totally unimportant, had this adviser and Leopold was very clever. So, there was this kind of scheme to build the family up, so one was married to the Queen of Portugal and became King Consul of Portugal; later one was married to Archduke Maximilian of Austria. First of all, Leopold was married to Princess Charlotte of Wales. So, Leopold in the movie should have been Albert if Princess Charlotte hadn’t died. So, after his death he’s made king of the Belgians and then he gets his other nephew as the consult. He’s got his sister in as the mother.

The Colburgs were really kind of shunted all over the place and by the 1860s they were connected by blood with pretty well every major reigning house… far more than a lot of the more senior families in Germany. What is interesting is that Baron Stockmar, Leopold’s adviser, had this understanding that constitutional monarchy was a different form of government. Up ‘til then, constitutions for most absolute monarchs just meant less fun, and they hadn’t seen it as any kind of alternative political arrangement, just of having less power.

But he saw that if this could be moulded into a real political arrangement it had a much longer shelf life than the idea of absolute monarchy, which people even of that time in the 1830s were beginning to see was not going to last for very much longer in western Europe. So, instead of just abolishing royal houses, they could be adapted and that’s very much a Colburg message. They were a very, very clever house.

Q. Can you just say a bit more about producer Graham King… a Brit who is a real Hollywood player…
Julian Fellowes: I’m mad about Graham King, who is a sort of great man. He is a Brit but everyone kind of forgets that. In the year when Helen Mirren won her very well deserved Oscar for The Queen, that was the British Oscars! Nobody noticed that a Briton had won best picture, for The Departed! He is so modest. He is a tremendously courteous man. He’s extremely powerful but doesn’t need to whack you over the head to prove it. Of course, in Hollywood good manners are like a drink on a hot day! And I love working for him.

Read our review of The Young Victoria

Interview with Emily Blunt from Indie London

Compliments of Indie London

The Young Victoria - Emily Blunt interview

Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria

Interview by Rob Carnevale

EMILY Blunt shot to fame in British hit My Summer of Love and has since emerged as one of the UK’s most sought after actresses both here and in Hollywood following roles in The Devil Wears Prada, Charlie Wilson’s War and Dan In Real Life.

She is now playing The Young Victoria in a new movie written by Julian Fellowes and talks to us about getting to grips with corsets and gloves, wearing a crown and having Liz Hurley visit a film set while they were filming a key scene.

Q. How did Julian Fellowes’ obvious enthusiasm for this part of Queen Victoria’s life transmit to you?
Emily Blunt: Well, I think I had a similar perception of Queen Victoria. I had the opinion she was old, in mourning and sour faced and repressed. So, when I started to read about her, mainly from tip-offs that Julian gave me, I fell in love with her. I think when I started to see the very intimate side of Victoria, and the intimate portrait of her through Julian’s script and the books that I read, I could then see she was the polar opposite to what I’d initially imagined her to be like and I saw her as this young girl who was feisty and rebellious and passionate.

he was in a job where she was way over her head and I saw that must have been an incredibly pressured and difficult environment to be in, particularly after reading about this childhood that was lonely and oppressive. So, I was amazed and full of admiration at her resilience… to have the knowledge that she would be so absolute and that she would be great and deserved this position. I just thought she was a remarkable girl and wanted to play her very, very much.

Q. What did French director Jean Marc Vallée bring to the material having not been someone who grew up with the same knowledge and appreciation of Queen Victoria that we may have?
Emily Blunt: Well, he did bring a very fresh approach to British history. I mean, he actually shoots very emotionally and he had wonderful tactics that fell into the story. He would shoot through mirrors, so it wasn’t just pretty, it helped to get the feeling that all eyes were on her, and that she was being watched all the time by everyone, and from every single angle. So, I thought he had very interesting ideas and he also created very atmospheric sets for us to work on. He’d play music such as Sigur Ros that was very atmospheric and rewarding. He also shot so quickly… it was relentless. It moved very fast and never felt stuffy or boring to any of us working on it.

Q. Did you get a private tour of some of the mansions and historical venues you shot in?
Emily Blunt: We tried to sneak off but were kept under close watch by the people who monitor, look after and manage those homes and palaces. I remember we were filming at Ham House and someone put hairspray on me, and this woman started to flap immediately, saying: “The hairspray’s going all over the Van Dyke’s!” We literally were kept under close watch and even if we leant on a table, we were rushed away. So, we didn’t get much of a chance to look around.

Q, What aspect of the clothing proved the most uncomfortable for you?
Emily Blunt: [Smiles] What do you think? Actually, I don’t like gloves. I don’t why but I don’t like them and I have a weird thing about them. I knew I had to be wearing gloves when we had the waltz and it was awful. It’s a very silly thing. But the corset is not fun to wear. And [costume designer] Sandy Powell was quite merciless with my corset because I think she thought I’d been a wuss and wore it too loose. So, she insisted the shape wouldn’t be right if I didn’t winch it in really tight… at which point I said: “F**k the shape, I want to be able to breathe!” So, we had to come to a compromise.

Q. What about the crown?
Emily Blunt: The crown was really heavy actually! It dented my forehead when they took it off. I had to move very slowly with it on.

Q. What was it like following in Queen Victoria’s footsteps? And didn’t you film in the bed that she’d slept in? Was that weird?
Emily Blunt: It was a bit weird, but what was weirder was that as we were filming that scene Liz Hurley was looking around the castle and popped her head in the door. I was like: “What’s Liz Hurley doing here?”

Q. How easy was it to separate playing a monarch from just being a girl in love?
Emily Blunt: I think that’s what’s clever about the script. You see the situations she’s in, where she has to perform, and where he has to perform, and there’s a protocol to maintain, but you also have the private moments where all of that gets left at the door and it’s just them, and they’re very young, in love and frightened. So, wanted to find that balance between the performance and how they were a couple of awkward teenagers at the same time.

Q. What was it like having Princess Beatrice on set?
Emily Blunt: I get asked about this a lot and I think people think she’s in it a lot. Princess Beatrice came in and was incredibly friendly and carried my train, which was very nice and ironic!

Q. By playing a queen you’re following in the footsteps of actresses like Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench who have all been recognised with awards for their performances. Did that cross your mind?
Emily Blunt: I think that to follow in their footsteps is something tricky anyway because they’re all people that I admire. But I don’t know if playing the Queen of England means it could lead to an award. And I do think that we have made a very different film from others before us. I think certain royals have been portrayed in a much more kind of Hollywood-ized light, and I feel we’ve made a much more authentic film here. So, I don’t know if it will be regarded necessarily in the same light as them… it’s such a meat market all of that and I don’t even want to begin to go into it.

Q. Did you ever dream as a little girl of being a princess?
Emily Blunt: Definitely not! I was never a girl that dreamt of being a princess and I never dreamt about my wedding day. I hated pink and I hated fairies. I only liked hanging out with boys. I remember throwing a tantrum if my mum put me in pink. I wasn’t a particularly girly girl.

Read our review of The Young Victoria

Read our interview with Rupert Friend

Victoria'a MUM

You may have noticed that I've neglected the blog, but I do have a good reason and I'm getting back to it now---and have stacks of to be read Queen biographies piled high. First off, I decided to go back to work full time and also got a promotion and so the job needed my undivided attention, as you can imagine. And you know how that is. There was much to learn and it's been exhausting. I was also offered a contract for "Royal Watercolors" which is a romantic historical--with many true details of the life of Young Queen Victoria in it-- and I've been busy working on that. Edits, edits and more edits. But it came out beautifully...and will be released soon in A DANCE OF MANNERS, by Highland Press. It's a Regency Romance Anthology. The cover is up at the top right, and it came out beautifully. There will be four other regency romances in the anthology by some very talented authors. If you haven't heard the term regency, it simply refers to a period of time in England from about 1800 to 1830 approximately (that's the long regency period).

It came as a shock to me---this whole book thing!---but, as you know some of the best things in life come unexpectedly.

You may have heard that the movie "Young Victoria" was released in England this month. I've been following this closely. Queen Elizabeth seemed a bit disappointed in some of the details of the movie, but overall I think she liked it. Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, was instrumental in getting this movie made due in part to her fascination with Queen Victoria---alas---I am fascinated with her too. I've got a copy of the screenplay which I hold dear. And I've even dashed off some emails to some VIP's involved with the movie. The United States hasn't yet announced a release date, if any, but I hear there are negotiations underway. No one has even done a movie on her young life. I think people will be surprised when they see that Victoria had a thrilling young life and she isn't the Queen in black widow's weeds as they'd been lead to believe. That's only part of her life.

In my novella, you'll get a feeling of what it was like for her living in Kensington Palace---alone, with only her governess and her "Mamma" for company. She was shielded, lonely---and many of her relatives simply couldn't bear to be near her German mother. And did you know that Victoria was conceived in a race to have a new heir for the Crown after her cousin Princess Charlotte died unexpectedly during childbirth? It was a terrible shock to the nation. It threw the royal family into a tizzy, and quite frankly things were never the same.

Much has been said and written about Victoria's mother---the Duchess of Kent. She was a minor royal in Germany when she was introduced to the King's son, the Duke of Kent. He was looking for a wife in the race to produce an heir. She had two other children from her first marriage---a girl, Feodora and a boy, Charles. She was a widow. She took to the Duke of Kent. He was kind to her...very kind. He took care of many of the details and worries which concerned her. She genuinely cared for him and he genuinely cared for her too. The Duke had given up his long time mistress---which hurt him---but he knew that he must produce an heir. In order to do that he needed to marry and have any future child on English soil.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as all of that. His brother, the Prince Regent who had recently lost his own daughter Charlotte, didn't care for his brother at all. He wouldn't lend a hand to help his brother establish a residence in England for his future wife or help him with his mountain of debts. He didn't care less that his brother had married this minor German royal and that she was soon expecting a baby. The Duke of Kent reminded his brother that his wife might be carrying the future sovereign of England. The Prince Regent couldn't care less.

The reason the Prince Regent was called "Regent" was because his father, the King of England, was locked away in Windsor Castle and had been declared insane. Therefore, the King needed a regent, someone to make the decisions for the crown. The Kings eldest son did that and was therefore known as the Prince Regent...and that's where you get the term "regency" from. From the time the King went insane until the time the Prince Regent became King was known as the "regency" period. (Actually, the time until the death of the Prince Regent who was King at the time of his death is known as the long regency period.)

Enough of that. Here we have the poor Duchess of Kent....expecting. She has two other young children and she needs to leave her beloved home in Germany...and travel to England which was an uncomfortable and long trip for someone in her condition. And did anyone care? Did anyone help her? No. And she didn't even know how to speak English.

Some of the Duke of Kent's sisters intervened and spoke to the Prince Regent about preparing a place for the new couple who would be arriving in England, but the Prince was simply not interested. Did he hate the fact that his own daughter had died and that someone else would be succeeding him as sovereign?

Many letters flew back and forth from Germany and England. The Duke and Duchess of Kent knew they weren't being welcomed with open arms. It must have hurt the Duchess to know that. She had done nothing wrong. Her whole life was being turned upside down with this move to England and she was even having a baby. No one would give her husband the respect he was due, as one of the King's sons. The baby was due in May. The Duke and Duchess of Kent knew they needed to set off well in advance of that date so that the baby was born in England. It had to be. They could not take a chance that if the baby was born early they were not in England.

It was a long and tiring journey and one of the Duke's most trusted servants came with them. His name was Sir John Conroy, and he was very helpful to the Duke and Duchess. But one day...none of them could have known...Sir Conroy would be involved in a bitter dispute with Victoria and the cause of much misery. But, none of that had come about yet.

When they arrived in England, they were given apartments in Kensington Palace. The Duke of Kent was appalled. The apartments were in a total state of disrepair. (OH, and let me say that these apartments are not what WE would think as apartments....several bedrooms, a small drawing room...a library.....NO. They were massive apartments with at least two floors. There were servants rooms, a kitchen, libraries, bedrooms and sitting rooms, drawing rooms...even small ballrooms in some....) Still though, there were terrible drafts coming in through the windows, much of the wood was rotted in the window frames, it smelled damp, the rugs were threadbare, paint peeling and it was generally run down. Although the Duke of Kent was stretched for money, he somehow made arrangements for the interiors to be fixed adequately and he and the Duchess ordered furniture---even nursery furniture. Although ignored by the royal family by the most part, they were supremely happy when they moved into the apartments only several days before Princess Victoria was born in the middle of May.

The Duke of Kent was simply overjoyed! He doted on his wife and the baby Princess and spent much time in his new library which had been decorated elaborately. It was a happy time for the couple, although the Prince Regent treated them terribly on the day of Victoria's christening. He treated them so harshly that the Duchess of Kent was forced to hold back her tears. The Regent would not even agree to the parents choices of names for their child. She was to be known as Alexandrina.

Several months later, the family traveled to Sidmouth, near the sea. It was to be their Christmas holiday. It was the coldest winter there in many least as far as anyone could remember. They were excited to be there, but I suspect that with the wind, the terrible cold and snow they were hesitant to stay... and what happened there not only will chill you to the will never forget it as long as you live.

And I'll write about that next time.