Wednesday, February 10, 2010

170 years ago...

Today, February 10, marks the 170th anniversary of the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. This legendary royal marriage, recently chronicled in the film The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt as Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert, has fascinated biographers for decades and practically changed the course of modern European history, due to the impressive dynastic marriages of Albert and Victoria's nine children, 42 grandchildren and 85 great-grandchildren.

Victoria and Albert's
marriage, happy and passionate as it was, certainly carried its own shadows. Albert found difficulty adjusting to life at the British court in his early years as prince consort, with many of the courtiers viewing him as a provincial German. As a husband and father, he struggled with wanting to exert his own masculine dominance when his wife sat on the throne of the mightiest empire on Earth. In time, Albert carved his own role and became a valuable asset to his wife's reign. Victoria and Albert worked closely with each other, and Albert is often credited with molding the British royal family's image at this time as the model of a proper Victorian family.

Albert's death in 1861 was lamented throughout Britain. Courtiers and government officials like agreed that the prince consort's death was a terrible blow to the monarchy. Victoria went into a prolonged period of mourning, where she withdrew from public life and seriously damaged the image of the crown as a result. After some years, the queen began to emerge back into public life but continued wearing mourning colors for Albert for the remainder of her long life.

Albert and Victoria's marriage is responsible for linking Britain with the reigning dynasties (both past and present) of Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Romania, and Yugoslavia, but a large number of these future marriages suffered from their own tragedies. Revolutions, assassinations, executions, exile, and illness plagued a number of Victoria and Albert's descendants. Today, their great-great-grandchildren occupy every throne in Europe except for The Netherlands and Belgium- no small feat.

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