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After the untimely death of Prince Albert, the Queen and her nation were plunged into a state of grief so profound that this one event would dramatically alter the shape of the British monarchy. For Britain had not just lost a prince: during his twenty year marriage to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert had increasingly performed the function of King in all but name. The outpouring of grief after Albert's death was so extreme, that its like would not be seen again until the death of Princess Diana one hundred and ...
After the untimely death of Prince Albert, the Queen and her nation were plunged into a state of grief so profound that this one event would dramatically alter the shape of the British monarchy. For Britain had not just lost a prince: during his twenty year marriage to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert had increasingly performed the function of King in all but name. The outpouring of grief after Albert's death was so extreme, that its like would not be seen again until the death of Princess Diana one hundred and thirty-six years later.Drawing on many letters, diaries and memoirs from the Royal Archives and other neglected sources, as well as the newspapers of the day, Helen Rappaport offers a new perspective on this compelling historical psychodrama-the crucial final months of the prince's life and the first long, dark ten years of the Queen's retreat from public view. She draws a portrait of a queen obsessed with her husband and-after his death-with his enduring place in history. Magnificent Obsession also sheds new light on the true nature of the prince's chronic physical condition, overturning for good the one hundred and fifty-year-old myth that he died of typhoid fever.
Preface & Acknowledgements xi
List of Illustrations xv
Prologue: Christmas 1860 1
Part 1 Albert the Good II
1 'The Treadmill of Never-EndingBusiness' 13
2 'The First Real Blow of Misfortune' 29
3 'Fearfully in Want of a True Friend' 42
4 'Our Most Precious Invalid' 57
5 'Day Turned into Night' 74
6 'Our Great National Calamity' 86
7 'Will They Do Him Justice Now?' 105
8 'How Will the Queen Bear It?' 118
Part 2 The Broken-HeartedWidow 127
9 'All Alone!' 129
10 'The Luxury of Woe' 147
11 'A Married Daughter I Must Have Living with Me' 161
12 'God Knows How I Want So Much to be Taken Care Of' 177
13 'The Queen Is Invisible' 196
14 'Heaven Has Sent Us this Dispensation to Save Us' 213
15 Albertopolis 232
Epilogue: Christmas 1878 243
Appendix: What Killed Prince Albert? 249
1. Saint or martinet?: Queen Victoria adored her husband and looked upon him as a paragon of virtue, but in light of Prince Albert's controlling influence over her and their children is there another way of looking at him?
2. It is a commonly held belief that theirs was a love match. But was it really? Albert appears, in the first instance, to have married out of duty and only later grown to love his wife. Would you agree that fundamentally she was the passionate one?
3. Would it be true to say that the queen's obsessive love at times became distorted and unhealthy? And was it in any way the result of her repressed childhood, locked away at Kensington Palace?
4. Was Prince Albert's overwhelming obsession with duty and taking on an enormous workload a way of dissipating his thwarted ambitions to be a monarch himself. Would you agree, that little by little he took over control of the running of the monarchy from Victoria and in so doing disempowered her so that she lost confidence in her own abilities?
5. Did Prince Albert drive himself into an early grave with his crippling, self-imposed workload? Does the till now unchallenged acceptance of typhoid fever as the cause of Albert's death actually stack up? Might Crohn's Disease be a far more plausible cause of his failing health?
6. Was Victoria's hysterical response to her mother's death in 1861 a case of unresolved guilt about their previously bad relationship? Was her later reconciliation with her hypocritical?
7. Albert's death provoked in Victoria the most all-consuming, obsessive and fetishistic attachment to the trappings of mourning. To what extent was this a reflection of the Victorian cult of mourning at the time or her own version of it? Might her state of grief be described as unhealthy, or pathological and to what extent was it the result of her extreme self-centeredness?
8. In her total obsession with Albert living and Albert dead the Queen seems to have failed to channel the love and support of her children, and often did not appreciate their innate goodness, Bertie being a case in point. Why was this?
9. The Queen blew hot and cold with all her children-- might one say she was a bad mother?. She appeared always to like them when they toed the line and did what she wanted, but the minute they contradicted her they were in her bad books. She appears to be have been fickle and inconsistent as a mother. Would you agree?
10. The queen's years of retreat into mourning during the 1860s-1870s came in for a lot of public criticism. Do you think the monarchy would have faced a serious republican challenge had it gone on? Might we have seen the British monarchy fall?
11. Was the widowed Queen's neglect of her royal duties understandable or reprehensible? Might she have recovered sooner had she had the benefit of the kind of care and counselling that a widow in her sitution would be offered today?
12. At the end of her reign the queen rose triumphant as a great matriarch and figurehead of empire. Do you believe that she ultimately redeemed herself and regained the love of the nation? What do you see as her finest qualities as queen?
Posted July 10, 2012
I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how the current royal family reputation was established by the death of Prince Albert. Without his death, Victoria would have never become the powerful monarch and gave the British Empire the stabilty it needed to grow. Albert taught Victoria how to be queen when they were first married and then proceeded to take over the throne and rule of the growing British Empire. It was only in his death did she find her way back to being the Queen she was ment to be at birth.
I found the final chapter on what killed Albert very interesting. I'm glad to know he didn't die because of the drains at Windsor but of Crone's. Since this is an inheirted condition, the marriage of first cousins (Victoria and Albert) put the entire then and future royal family at risk.
If you're interested in solving the riddles that today's British Roayl family presents, then this is the book for you to add to that understanding.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 14, 2012
Good book. The author addresses in detail the various theories as to the cause of Albert's death and this was new information for me.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2015
I found this an interesting look at a Queen I knew mostly as a long reigning, flighty, extravagant woman who was the mother or grandmother to most of the late 19th and 20th c. royal houses of Europe.
Helen Rappaport introduced a woman who was much more, and somewhat less than that. She was able to go beyond the public picture to show why Victoria reacted the way she did to her son, the Heir to the Throne and to the death of Albert, her husband.
It's an interesting view into the social customs guiding the culture of the 19th century.
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Posted April 1, 2012
Posted October 10, 2012
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Posted December 15, 2012
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Posted April 23, 2012
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