Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain's Greatest Monarch

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Random House Publishing Group, Aug 10, 2010 - History - 448 pages
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In her lauded biography England’s Mistress, Kate Williams painted a vivid and intimate portrait of Emma Hamilton, the lover of English national hero Lord Horatio Nelson. Now, with the same keen insight and gift for telling detail, Williams provides a gripping account of Queen Victoria’s rise to the throne and her early years in power—as well as the tragic, little-known story of the princess whose demise made it all possible.
   
Toward the end of the eighteenth century, monarchies across Europe found themselves in crisis. With mad King George III and his delinquent offspring tarnishing the realm, the English pinned their hopes on the only legitimate heir to the throne: the lovely and prudent Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince of Wales and granddaughter of the king. Sadly, those dreams faded when, at age twenty-one, she died after a complicated pregnancy and stillbirth. While a nation grieved, Charlotte’s power-hungry uncles plotted quickly to produce a new heir. Only the Duke of Kent proved successful in his endeavor, with the birth of a girl named Victoria.
   
Writing with a combination of novelistic flair and historical precision, Williams reveals an energetic and vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations behind Victoria’s struggle to occupy the throne—scheming that continued even after the crown was placed on her head.

Upon hearing of the death of her predecessor, King William IV, Victoria—in her bold first act as queen—banished her overambitious mother from the room, a simple yet resolute move that would set the tone for her reign. The queen clashed constantly not only with her mother and her mother’s adviser, the Irish adventurer John Conroy, but with her ministers and even her beloved Prince Albert, all of whom, in one way or another, attempted to seize control from her.

By connecting Charlotte’s sad fate to Victoria’s majestic rule, Kate Williams lays bare the passions that swirled around the throne—the court secrets, the sexual repression, and the endless intrigue. The result is a grand and satisfying tale of a woman whose destiny began long before she was born and whose legacy lives on.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
P A R T O N
11
lo Thinking that She Has a Will of Her Own
78
Everything I Could Wish Desire Collected in One
113
Mr and Mrs Coburg
123
N T E R L UD E 181720 Drunken Dukes
141
The Dregs of Their Dull Race
143
2O As Plump as a Partridge
152
Victoria on Tour
249
Victorias Whims
254
Crowds of Princes
260
I Cannot Expect to Live Very Long
269
It May All Be Over at Any Moment
278
Just the sort of Life I Like
287
He is of the Greatest Use to Me
302
Scandal
314

Alexandrina Victoria 1 59
158
P A R T T W o 182037 Little Victoria
169
An Idol in Kensington Palace
171
The Nations Hope
178
Imperial Rober
193
I Was Greatly Pleased
199
Educating a Princess
204
Sickly Uncle King
213
Charlotte the Queen?
221
3o The Queen Does Nothing but Embroider Flowers
226
How very Old
237
When Nobody Wishes to Change and Nobody Wants to Give In
242
A Way of Settling It
325
Passing like a Dream 532
332
Monsters
341
An Everlasting Impression
347
Children seem to Literally Be Raining Down from Heaven
353
What a Hard Task It Is for Us Women
361
An Immense Multitude
369
Acknowledgments
375
Bibliography
421
Index
431
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Kate Williams is the author of England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton and has published widely in books and journals. Williams fell in love with the eighteenth century while an undergraduate at Oxford. She has an M.A. from Queen Mary, University of London, and a D.Phil. in history from Oxford. A lecturer and TV consultant, she has hosted two television historical documentaries and appears regularly on BBC and Channel 4.


From the Hardcover edition.

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