Queen Victoria’s Private Journals Go Online
Queen Elizabeth officially launched the Queen Victoria Journals Online Project on May 24. Previously, Queen Victoria’s journals were only accessible by appointment at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle; now, however, everyone can enjoy the historical documents. To make it possible, Queen Victoria’s handwritten pages were scanned, and all the entries – from political encounters to personal affairs – deciphered. The monumental project has taken staff of the Oxford’s Bodleian Library over eight months to produce the records.
Queen Victoria is, as of now, Britain’s longest-reigning Monarch, and was also an avid diary keeper, writing over 43,000 pages on the course of her long life. The 141 volumes are rich with the Queen’s own pen and ink sketches, from those of her children, to people she met during her numerous trips. The first entry is from 1832, when then Princess Victoria was only 13: “This book, Mama gave me that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it”. The last one is from 1901, just days before her death: “Had a good night and could take some breakfast better. Took an hour’s drive at half-past two. It was very foggy, but the air was pleasant.”
The Queen often wrote of her feelings on political situation in the British Empire. One such entry from 1837 deals with the Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada: “The news are, I grieve to say, very bad from Canada; that is to say rumours and reports by the Papers, though we have no Official Reports. But Lord Melbourne hopes it may not be so bad as it is rumoured. There certainly is open Rebellion.”
Some of her most detailed accounts are of her coronation in June 1838, and Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Of her coronation, she wrote: “The crowds of people exceeded what I have ever seen. Multitudes, millions of my loyal subjects who were assembled in every spot to witness the Procession. Their good humour and excessive loyalty was beyond everything… I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a nation.” Her Jubilee celebrations touched her to an equal extent. She describes it as a never to be forgotten day: “No one ever, I believe has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those six miles of streets. The crowds were quite indescribable and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. The streets were beautifully decorated, also the balconies of the houses with flowers, flags, and draperies of every hue. The streets, the windows, the roofs of the houses, were one mass of beaming faces, and the cheers never ceased.”
Other entries deal with more personal side of the Queen. She described her first encounter with her future husband, Prince Albert, their engagement, and finally her feelings after they were married: “He clasped me in his arms, and we kissed each other again and again! Oh! Was ever woman so blessed as I am?”
Queen Elizabeth herself wrote the introduction. The full diaries are available at the project’s official website: http://www.queenvictoriasjournals.org/home.doFiled under British Royals, Historical Royals
Tagged Coronation, Correspondence, Elizabeth II, Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, Journals, Queen Victoria, Website.