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Queen Victoria, Biography: Early Years and Lord Melbourne

The early years of Queen Victoria's reign was influenced by her Whig prime minister, Lord Melbourne. 

Read full story on my Suite 101 page.

Queen Victoria's official coronation portrait.

Lord Melbourne was perhaps the most influential political figure on the reign of Queen Victoria. Indeed, the story of their romantic friendship has often been told.

Lord Melbourne was Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister

Lord Melbourne
As the queen’s first prime minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne was instrumental in the early years of the queen’s reign. It was Melbourne who instilled in Victoria her roles and duties as a constitutional monarch, supporting and boosting her self-confidence as well as her passion for her duties. Because of Melbourne’s extreme influence on Victoria, eclipsing that of her mother, the Duchess of Kent, or her confidante Baroness Lehzen, some referred to her as “Mrs. Melbourne.”

Nevertheless, statesman’s unlimited influence made Victoria inclined with the Whig cause. Her mother the Duchess of Kent had been rigorously excluded from all share in the queen’s political duties and the queen's relationship with her mother, already strained, had further deteriorated.

Lady Flora Hastings and the Scandal that Rocked Queen Victoria’s Court

Lady Flora Hastings
A spiteful rivalry arose between the ladies of the duchess and of the queen that led to the baseless accusations of immoral conduct against Lady Flora Hastings, who was the Duchess of Kent’s maid of honor and ally. Victoria disliked the lady, as much as she disgusted her mother’s association with her Scottish secretary.

After sharing a carriage with Conroy, the queen and Baroness Lehzen later observed a protuberance on Lady Flora’s stomach. This led to the gossip spread by the queen's court that the lady was pregnant and   that Conroy was the father.

The queen’s insisted that she be examined by a physician, who declared Lady Flora was virgin. Later it was discovered that the girth  was actually a cancerous tumor. Lady Flora’s death in June 1839 damaged queen’s popularity, not even Melbourne vigilance and wisdom prevented the scandal from rocking the queen’s early years.

Sir Robert Peel
The Bedchamber Crisis Sinks Victoria’s Popularity

The Bedchamber Crisis, another event that rocked the early years of Queen Victoria, took place after Lord Melbourned resigned and was replaced in May 1839, Sir Robert Peel, the Tory leader. He requested that the Whig ladies of the queen's court be replaced by Tory ones. The queen refused, and despite Lord Melbourne's request that she  relent, the queen refused to change her mind. Peel refused to take oath with the ladies unchanged, so Melbourne very weakly consented to resume office. 

Read more about Queen Victoria's early years on the throne and her working relationship with Lord Melbourne and Sir Robert Peel from my Suite 101 post


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