When I was a girl, I used to call Victoria Day, ‘Firecracker Day’ for obvious reasons. I always loved going to watch the firework displays with my family during my childhood. There was something nostalgic and magic about it. Loved getting those sparklers and writing your name in the air with them too! Ahhh, the good old days…
But was it really that good back then for Queen Victoria during her reign? This got me thinking about her Royal Highness Vicki. So, I thought I’d do a little digging on some facts you may not know about her. This is what I found:
1. She was barely five feet tall. For an outspoken broad with an imposing reputation, this tidbit surprised me. In later years, her girth almost caught up to her height. Some accounts claim she had a 50 inch waist by the end of her life. Queen Vicki would have been a shoe-in for the Biggest Loser reality show!
2. She proposed to hubby, Prince Albert, and not vice versa. Vicki was only 16 when she met her first cousin Albert (yup, they were related) and was immediately smitten with him. Her uncle Leopold suggested that she propose to Albert since she was the queen, and he couldn’t propose to her. Guess it must have been true love—after all, they had nine children together!
3. She was raised by a single mom, and later became a single mom herself. Her father, Edward, Duke of Kent died of pneumonia in 1820 when poor Vicki was less than a year old. She was left to be brought up by her mother who was under the influence of her advisor, and not out for her daughter’s best interests. When Vicki was crowned queen, she booted mommy-dearest out of the limelight and to a distant set of apartments. Oh yeah, and she fired that useless advisor too. Royalty has its perks.
4. She was the first known carrier of hemophilia, an affliction that would become known as the ‘Royal disease’. Who knew marrying into the family gene pool would weaken it too? Hemophilia is a blood clotting disorder passed along the maternal lines within families; men are more likely to develop it, while women are the carriers. Bummer. Sufferers can bleed excessively, since their blood does not proper coagulate, leading to extreme pain and even death. Her son Leopold and three of her grandsons died from the disease. Presently, hemophilia appears to be extinct in the European royal lines. Someone got smart enough not to push the DNA envelope anymore.
5. She had at a least six serious assassination attempts made against her during her reign—most while she was riding in a carriage. At least two of the trigger-happy gents were found not guilty by reason of insanity. Another would-be assassin fired a gun loaded with paper and tobacco at the queen, but the charge was insufficient. Hmm…maybe he should have been chucked in the insane asylum too. One man even tried to hit the queen with his cane. She wasn’t amused. However, looking for the silver lining, every time there was an assassination attempt on Queen Vicki, her popularity soared among the British public. In these days, guess that would be the same as getting more likes on Facebook. Go, Queen Vicki, go!
6. Finally, she was an artist and writer. Knew I liked the old broad! Queen Vicki began drawing as a child, and throughout her life continued to sketch and paint. She also enjoyed writing, and wrote daily entries in a diary. Her daily journals eventually spanned more than 120 volumes, and this Queen Bee wrote about 2500 words a day. Can you say prolific?
Whatever you decide to do this Victoria Day, take a moment to think about how far we’ve come since Queen Vicki’s rule, then give her silent thanks when you see the burst of color streaking through the sky as you watch the firework display with your family or friends. Salute!