Narrative Summary of Queen Victoria

Overview: I’m Queen Victoria, and this biography tells my story. It starts with my family history and focuses on my life before taking the throne. It details my childhood with a dominating mother and the guidance of my governess, Lehzen. The biography explains my strong relationship with Lord Melbourne, my Prime Minister, who became my confidant and mentor. The book then dives into my marriage to Prince Albert, exploring the difficulties and triumphs of our union. It includes the political battles we faced against Lord Palmerston and how Prince Albert slowly gained influence in the country. Finally, the book covers my widowhood, my continued dedication to Prince Albert’s legacy, and the challenges I faced as Queen during an era of tremendous change.

Main parts:

  • Antecedents: This section introduces the royal family and sets the stage for Victoria’s birth. It covers the history of the House of Wettin, the death of Princess Charlotte, the marriage of her parents, and the political atmosphere in England leading up to Victoria’s birth.
  • Childhood: Describes Victoria’s early life, her upbringing under the watchful eye of her mother and the influence of her governess. It highlights the importance of her English birth, her education, and her growing awareness of her destiny as future Queen.
  • Lord Melbourne: Explores Victoria’s close relationship with Lord Melbourne, her Prime Minister. This section focuses on Melbourne’s influence on Victoria, their shared political views, and how he helped her navigate the complexities of being Queen. It also details the “Bedchamber Crisis” and Victoria’s strong will in maintaining her position.
  • Marriage: This section covers Victoria’s relationship with Prince Albert, their courtship, marriage, and the challenges they faced in their early years. It discusses Albert’s growing political influence, the removal of Baroness Lehzen, the birth of their children, and how Victoria found happiness and fulfillment in her marriage.
  • Last Years of Prince Consort: This section focuses on Albert’s role in politics and how he became a powerful figure in England. It examines the challenges he faced in balancing his duties as Prince Consort with his own ideals. It also covers his work on the Great Exhibition, his struggles with Lord Palmerston, and the growing influence he had on Victoria.
  • Widowhood: Covers Victoria’s life after Albert’s death, her immense grief, her seclusion from society, and her dedication to preserving his legacy. It discusses her struggles with Lord Palmerston and her efforts to influence government policy.
  • Gladstone and Lord Beaconsfield: Explores Victoria’s relationship with two prominent political figures. It details her animosity towards Gladstone and her admiration for Disraeli. It highlights how her influence shifted with the changing political landscapes and how Disraeli managed to win her favor.
  • Old Age: This section describes how Victoria’s position changed towards the end of her reign. Her popularity grew, the country embraced her role as a symbol of England’s greatness, and her views aligned more closely with those of the public. It describes her love of Balmoral and her relationship with John Brown.
  • The End: Focuses on the final years of Victoria’s reign, her struggles with the South African War, the decline of her health, and her death in 1901.

View on Life:

  • Albert’s view: He believed in duty, hard work, and self-sacrifice. He believed in a well-ordered life and making a positive impact on the world. He believed in learning, improving himself, and constantly striving for a better society.
  • Victoria’s view: Victoria was guided by her strong sense of duty, family, and tradition. She believed in adhering to the rules and maintaining order in her personal life and the lives of those around her. She had a strong sense of patriotism and was fiercely loyal to her country and her family.
  • Lord Melbourne’s view: He believed in practicality, moderation, and finding a balance in life. He was cynical about progress and believed in maintaining the status quo.
  • Lord Palmerston’s view: He believed in decisive action, strength, and making a clear statement to the world. He saw himself as a leader who defended England’s interests.
  • Disraeli’s view: Disraeli was an ambitious and cunning politician who believed in using charm, wit, and flattery to achieve his goals. He saw the value of creating a strong national identity and used imperial power to further his ambitions.


  • The death of Princess Charlotte: This event had a profound impact on the royal succession and set in motion the events that led to Victoria’s birth.
  • The death of George III and the Duke of Kent: These events propelled Victoria closer to the throne, shaping her future as Queen.
  • The “Bedchamber Crisis”: This pivotal event tested Victoria’s will and solidified her authority as Queen.
  • The Crimean War: This event tested the relationship between Victoria and Prince Albert and Lord Palmerston. It also played a key role in the rising influence of Albert in national affairs.
  • The Great Exhibition: This project was Prince Albert’s brainchild and demonstrated his skills in organization and his ability to bring people together to achieve a great vision.
  • The Schleswig-Holstein Crisis: This complicated event brought out Victoria’s strong feelings on foreign policy and tested her ability to influence her Ministers.
  • The Franco-Prussian War and the unification of Germany: This historical period profoundly affected the political landscape of Europe and highlighted Victoria’s deep connection to her German roots.
  • Victoria’s Jubilee: This celebrated event showcased the nation’s growing admiration for Victoria and her long reign.
  • The South African War: This event tested Victoria’s resolve and challenged her ability to govern during wartime.


  • Balancing the demands of her mother and her role as Queen: Victoria faced the challenge of maintaining her independence from her mother’s constant control while fulfilling her duties as Queen.
  • Navigating political conflicts with Lord Melbourne and Lord Palmerston: Victoria faced the challenge of maintaining a strong relationship with her Prime Ministers while balancing her own political views and her position as Queen.
  • Finding her place as Prince Albert’s wife and as Queen: Victoria grappled with the challenge of being a loving wife while maintaining her power and authority as Queen.
  • Managing her family and the demands of royal life: As Queen and mother of a growing family, Victoria faced the challenge of balancing her personal and public duties.
  • Facing the deaths of loved ones: Victoria endured the loss of her husband, her mother, and her son throughout her reign. She had to find a way to overcome this grief and continue to lead.


  • The “Bedchamber Crisis”: Victoria’s refusal to comply with Sir Robert Peel’s request to replace her Whig Ladies of the Bedchamber with Tory supporters was a defining moment in her early reign. This conflict highlighted her strength and her unwillingness to yield to political pressure.
  • The battle with Lord Palmerston: This conflict lasted for several years and involved a power struggle between the Queen and her Minister. It demonstrated Victoria’s determination to influence foreign policy and Albert’s growing role in political matters.
  • The rift with Gladstone: Victoria found Gladstone’s style of government and his relationship with her difficult. She actively opposed his reforms and struggled to accept his position of authority.


  • Rise to the Throne: This story arc covers Victoria’s childhood and her early years as Queen. It highlights her relationship with Lord Melbourne, her struggle to break free from her mother’s influence, and her marriage to Prince Albert.
  • The Reign of the Consort: This arc explores Victoria and Albert’s growing influence on the British Empire. It discusses the challenges of their partnership and how Albert’s intellect and ideals shaped the country.
  • The Loss and Legacy: This arc covers the death of Prince Albert and Victoria’s subsequent years of grief and seclusion. It explores her dedication to Albert’s legacy and her efforts to maintain his principles.
  • The Imperial Age: This arc covers the rise of Disraeli and his influence on Victoria. It highlights her infatuation with him, her embrace of Imperialism, and her growing confidence as Queen.
  • The Final Years: This arc focuses on Victoria’s growing popularity, her role as a symbol of the British Empire, and her final years marked by illness and death.

Point of view:

  • The first person perspective: The book is written from Victoria’s perspective. This allows the reader to understand her thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
  • The perspective of a ruler: The biography offers a unique insight into the workings of the monarchy and the complexities of governing during a time of immense change.

How it’s written:

  • Formal and descriptive: The book uses formal language and is filled with detailed descriptions of events and people. It relies on historical documents and diaries to create a vivid picture of the past.
  • Example: “He was, she said, ‘so quiet, so simple, naif even, so pleased to be informed about things he does not know, so gentle, so full of tact, dignity, and modesty, so full of kind attention towards us, never saying a word, or doing a thing, which could put me out… There is something fascinating, melancholy, and engaging which draws you to him, in spite of any prevention you may have against him, and certainly without the assistance of any outward appearance, though I like his face.” (Chapter 6)


  • Informative and analytical: The tone is objective and aims to provide the reader with a factual account of Victoria’s life.
  • Sympathetic: While maintaining a neutral perspective, the biography reveals a sense of understanding and empathy for Victoria.

Life choices:

  • Marriage to Prince Albert: Victoria’s decision to marry Albert had a profound impact on her life and the course of English history. She was initially hesitant but ultimately found happiness and fulfillment in their union.
  • Supporting Disraeli and Imperialism: Victoria’s choice to embrace Disraeli’s political ideology and Imperialism dramatically altered her relationship with the British Empire.


  • The importance of duty: Victoria’s life exemplified the power of duty, devotion, and dedication to a higher purpose.
  • The power of love: Victoria’s deep love for Albert shaped her life and left a lasting impact on her personality.
  • The importance of resilience: Victoria endured numerous challenges and personal hardships throughout her reign. She learned to navigate adversity and find strength in her convictions.
  • The consequences of power: The book explores the complexities of power and its effect on individuals and nations.


  • Queen Victoria: A strong-willed, complex woman who navigated the challenges of being Queen of England and a wife. She was guided by duty and a strong sense of tradition.
  • Prince Albert: An intelligent, kind, and dedicated man with a strong sense of duty. He dedicated his life to serving England and shaping Victoria. He was a reformer and a visionary.
  • Lord Melbourne: A charming, witty, and experienced politician. He was Victoria’s mentor and confidante in her early years as Queen.
  • Lord Palmerston: A powerful, ambitious, and sometimes reckless politician. He was a force to be reckoned with in foreign affairs and often clashed with Victoria and Prince Albert.
  • Baron Stockmar: A shrewd and influential advisor to both Prince Albert and King Leopold. He was a key figure in shaping Prince Albert’s political views and his influence.
  • Baroness Lehzen: Victoria’s governess who had a profound influence on her upbringing. She was a loyal and devoted figure who fought to maintain her influence even after Victoria became Queen.
  • Benjamin Disraeli: A cunning and ambitious politician who charmed his way into Victoria’s heart. He embraced Imperialism and encouraged Victoria to take a more active role in government.
  • William Gladstone: An intelligent and principled politician who championed reform and clashed with Victoria’s conservative views.


  • The role of monarchy: The book explores the shifting role of the monarchy in a changing world. It considers the impact of Victoria’s reign on the British Empire and the balance of power in Europe.
  • The power of relationships: The book highlights the influence of key relationships in Victoria’s life, including those with Lord Melbourne, Prince Albert, and Lord Beaconsfield.
  • The complexities of leadership: The book examines the challenges of leadership, the need for political acumen, and the struggle to balance personal beliefs with the needs of a nation.
  • The power of tradition and change: The book depicts the constant interplay between tradition and change in a country striving to evolve while honoring its history.


  • Duty: Victoria was dedicated to her duty as Queen and believed in performing her role with dedication and integrity. She followed in the footsteps of Prince Albert, who also believed in the importance of duty and self-sacrifice.
  • Family: Family was a strong guiding force for Victoria throughout her life. She prioritized her children and her extended family and used her influence to support them.
  • Order and stability: Victoria valued stability and order. She was conservative in her views and believed in upholding the traditions and structures of the British Empire.

Intentions of characters:

  • Queen Victoria: To rule effectively, to uphold the values of the British Empire, and to honor her husband’s legacy.
  • Prince Albert: To influence British government policy, to promote progress and reform, and to make a positive impact on the world.
  • Lord Melbourne: To manage the affairs of the country effectively and to guide Victoria in her early years.
  • Lord Palmerston: To defend England’s interests abroad and to exercise power.
  • Baron Stockmar: To guide Prince Albert and to influence the course of history.
  • Baroness Lehzen: To secure a place of power and influence over Victoria.
  • Benjamin Disraeli: To gain power, to elevate England’s position in the world, and to charm his way into Victoria’s favor.
  • William Gladstone: To champion reform and to lead England into a new era of progress.

Unique Vocabulary:

  • “Wehmuthig”: A German word used by Victoria to describe her sense of melancholy or sadness.
  • “Gemuthlich”: A German word used to describe a cozy or comfortable atmosphere.
  • “Geharnischten”: A German word used to describe a letter that is stern or severe.
  • “Liebes Frauchen”: A German phrase used by Albert in his final hours to express his love for Victoria.


  • The boy Jones: This story highlights the chaotic state of Buckingham Palace in the early years of Victoria’s reign.
  • The firing of an unloaded pistol at the Queen: The repeated attempts to harm Victoria showcase the dangers of her position and the strange behavior of her would-be attackers.
  • The primroses for Beaconsfield: This anecdote exemplifies Disraeli’s charm and how he won Victoria’s favor.


  • The role of the Queen: The book examines the evolving role of the Queen in a changing world. It considers how Victoria’s position shifted and how her influence was shaped by her relationship with her husbands, her family, and her political advisors.
  • The importance of good government: The biography highlights the impact of good governance on a nation. It shows how Albert’s dedication to good governance helped shape the British Empire.
  • The impact of personal relationships on politics: The book reveals the importance of relationships in shaping political decisions and national policy.

Facts and findings:

  • Victoria’s childhood and education: Victoria’s upbringing was marked by strictness and a focus on fulfilling her future role as Queen.
  • The extent of Victoria’s wealth: Victoria inherited a large fortune and was known to be a careful and shrewd financial manager.
  • The impact of the Great Exhibition: This landmark event had a profound impact on British society, showcasing the country’s achievements in industry, technology, and the arts.
  • The influence of Albert: Albert became a powerful force in British politics, shaping both national and foreign policy.


  • Victoria’s annuity as Queen: Her annuity was L385,000 a year.
  • The cost of the Albert Memorial: The memorial cost L200,000.
  • The cost of the Osborne house and estate: Victoria and Albert purchased Osborne for L200,000.
  • The number of people who attended the opening of the Great Exhibition: Over 6 million people visited the Great Exhibition.
  • The size of Victoria’s family: She had nine children, forty-two grandchildren, and thirty-seven great-grandchildren.

Points of view:

  • The Queen’s point of view: The book is written from Victoria’s perspective. This offers a unique and intimate look into her life as Queen and how she navigated the complexities of her position.


  • A look back at a momentous era in English history: The book provides a historical perspective on a pivotal period in English history. It covers the Victorian era, a time of tremendous change in society, politics, and the arts.
  • A portrait of a complex woman: The biography gives a nuanced and in-depth portrait of Victoria, revealing her as a complex and contradictory figure, a woman of great strength and devotion who also had her flaws.

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