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Victoria and Albert

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

VICTORIA AND ALBERT is a record of the strength of middle-class domesticity in Britain during the nineteenth century. Although the young queen and her consort had access to numerous royal residences and retreats, including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral, they wanted a private home which bore no connection to their official positions or duties. In 1845 they purchased Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, situated on a 342-acre estate which sloped to the sea. Within three years, the country house which had attracted the royal couple with its cosiness and sea breezes was gone. Prince Albert’s wealth, vision, and growing family led succesively to changes which doomed the original three-story Georgian house in favor of a country palace suitable for the rearing of nine princes and princesses.

Osborne is notable in the life of Queen Victoria for its associations with Albert. As consort, he had few constitutional powers or duties. Yet at Osborne, which bore the marks of his originality and meticulous care, he was complete master of the house, and Victoria was never happier than when submitting to his authority. A Swiss Cottage was built on the grounds for the children, where they could learn cookery and store their natural history collections. Swimming lessons were given, sea voyages taken, and magnificent birthday celebrations staged. Victoria and Albert enjoyed a regular walks in the elaborate park laid out by Albert. It was only at Osborne that they felt they could enjoy a private life.

VICTORIA AND ALBERT is a touching story of a happy family. It is greatly enhanced by more than two hundred illustrations, most in color and many from the brush of Victoria and other members of the royal family. Taken with the smoothly written text, they provide rich insight into a vanished world where the British royal family did their best to live like ordinary people.