because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria of England began her historic 63-year reign in 1837. She was eighteen-years-old and throughout her life, she accepted the responsibilities of her position as gracefully as any probably have. Though she was only five feet tall and eventually, somewhat round, to boot, the way she carried herself made sure she was properly respected. Even her personal life was a model of virtue for her first forty years.

Falling madly in love with her first cousin, who she married three years after she took the throne, she bore four little princes and five little princesses while she was ruling her country. But when Albert died of typhoid fever, the good queen showed a different, more in-your-face side of herself.

Despite the fact that she wore widow's weeds for the rest of her life, only a couple of years passed before she found and hired a Scottish manservant named John Brown. She was in her early forties; he in his mid-thirties. And nature took its course.

The family (and some others) were more or less shocked, but Queen Victoria wasn't having it. Brown was moved into a special room and for the next twenty-two years, he was never far from her side. Some even called the queen "Mrs. Brown" behind her back. And in truth, when she died and her burial instructions were carried out, her husband's dressing gown was laid in the casket on her right, but in her left hand, covered by a bouquet of flowers, was a photo and lock of John Brown's hair and on the third finger of her right hand was Brown's mother's wedding ring.

However much she loved Albert and John Brown, though, when Brown died in 1883, leaving her bereft once more, the Queen hired a couple of Indian men as waitservants and in rapid order, Abdul Karim (in his mid-twenties to her sixty-eight!) moved into the room -- and apparently the position? -- John Brown had earlier occupied. Not only was he a commoner and a "foreigner," but a person of color, too. But being that Victoria Regina was Queen, nobody could do anything about it but wring their hands. And it was not a private affair. When the royal family met for special occasions, for example, and the servants ate elsewhere, Karim (to the family's horror) ate with them.

We might imagine that, with so much power, any queen would be an in-your-face woman, but history tells us this is not the case. Queens and Kings, in fact, have to satisfy long lists of rules and many, many people. Which is what some of them step down to avoid. But Queen Victoria made no bones about what she was going to do and dared anyone to try and stop her. And that's an in-your-face woman Queen!

No comments:

Post a Comment