Uncrowned King: The Life of Prince Albert

Overview

Stanley Weintraub, biographer of Victoria and other major figures of her era, here unveils the largely hidden role of Albert, establishing him as one of the greatest men of his days. Drawing on previously unexplored sources, Weintraub delves into Albert's political, familial, financial, medical, and sexual life. As a youth, Albert had few choices of vocation. Plucked from foreign obscurity—literally a "student prince"—he would sire the succession in what was then the most powerful empire on earth. His marriage, ...
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Overview

Stanley Weintraub, biographer of Victoria and other major figures of her era, here unveils the largely hidden role of Albert, establishing him as one of the greatest men of his days. Drawing on previously unexplored sources, Weintraub delves into Albert's political, familial, financial, medical, and sexual life. As a youth, Albert had few choices of vocation. Plucked from foreign obscurity—literally a "student prince"—he would sire the succession in what was then the most powerful empire on earth. His marriage, arranged as it was and stormy at times, remains one of the most surprising and arresting of love stories. Yet while Victoria adored him, his adopted people never accepted him, nor were they pleased with his behind-the-scenes behavior as surrogate sovereign. He was active, often secretly, in foreign affairs and in military affairs. He was Britain's leading exponent of industrial and technological progress, culminating in the renowned Crystal Palace exhibition, the first—and most successful—World's Fair. Indeed, virtually all royal instructions from the Queen to her officials, were drafted by the Prince Consort.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Queen Victoria would doubtless have been delighted by this biography of her adored husband, after the implications of the title had evoked the royal scowl. Prolific biographer Weintraub writes that he learned to respect Victoria's prince consort so deeply while writing about the queen herself in Victoria that he now builds a strong case that Albert, far from being a minor German princeling, was in fact a conscientious, well-informed administrator who essentially acted as England's king while married to Victoria. On his early death at age 42 in 1861, Prime Minister Disraeli said, "This German Prince has governed England for twenty-one years with a wisdom and energy such as none of our Kings have ever shown." Albert's wife, after all, produced during those years an unprecedented nine children, who went on to repopulate the ranks of European royalty. While reviled by many of his wife's subjects as a foreigner and worse yet, a German, Albert fought valiantly to improve British education and single-handedly pulled together the Great Exhibition of 1851 with its magnificent Crystal Palace. He was involved in almost every aspect of Her Majesty's government, to the mixed reactions of prime ministers, and he met his match in Lord Palmerston, who ignored and thwarted Albert and Victoria at every turn. Drawing on his detailed knowledge of the protagonists, Weintraub's persuasive argument that Albert was certainly the power behind the throne should cause a reevaluation. The 40 years of Victoria's reign after her husband's death and the dynastic web she spun across the Continent by marrying off her many children have tended to obscure Albert's role. Weintraub sets the record straight, leaving the reader with new admiration for this underestimated man. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
Weintraub (Shaw's People, LJ 5/15/96) is eminently qualified to write this book by virtue of his previous biographies of Victoria (LJ 1/87), Disraeli (LJ 9/1/93), and other important figures of Prince Albert's era. The depth and breadth of his knowledge inform this work throughout. There are no shocking revelations about Victoria's consort here but a well-researched and detailed portrait, which draws on accounts from Americans who met the prince and contemporary magazines and newspapers, including scandal sheets and satirical publications (Punch and others). The wealth of detail makes this more appropriate for the knowledgeable reader, but it is also accessible to the interested neophyte. A worthy addition to any library that does not have a recent biography of Prince Albert and for libraries that collect heavily in this area.Jean E.S. Storrs, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Kirkus Reviews
A distinguished biographer of Queen Victoria demonstrates the political importance of her beloved husband.

From the time of his marriage to Victoria in 1840 until his untimely death in 1861, Albert of Saxe-Coburg was never wholeheartedly accepted by the people of England. He always spoke German in private, and his public speeches were delivered in heavily accented English. A figure of fun in satirical periodicals such as Punch, he never received the civil or military honors that Victoria wanted for him. Weintraub (Disraeli, 1993; Victoria: An Intimate Biography, 1987; etc.) makes clear how much she adored him, how Albert bolstered her self-confidence, and how important their relationship was to the maintenance of the monarchy in the 19th century. Albert never usurped Victoria's role as monarch, but he took advantage of her repeated pregnancies, and of partisan shifts between Whig and Tory, to become acting monarch on occasion, and the most important adviser to the monarch on every occasion. A public figure who carved out a role as a promoter of science, technology, and educational reform, he achieved a public relations coup through his sponsorship of the famous Great Exhibition of 1851, a symbol of Britain's position as the world's dominant industrial nation. Albert's importance was underlined by Victoria's response after his death, when she put the monarchy in danger by virtually retiring from public life for nearly a decade. While establishing Albert's importance, Weintraub provides illuminating details of the private life and daily routine of the royal couple. Their strong physical attraction for each other and their mutual enthusiasm for eroticism in painting and sculpture were combined with a sincere commitment to higher moral standards at court and in public.

While providing a window into the private lives of 19th- century royalty, Weintraub also makes a critical historical point about the adaptation of the monarchy to the demands of a more democratic age.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743206099
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2000
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 912,320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Weintraub is Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at Penn State University and the author of notable histories and biographies including 11 Days in December, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, MacArthur's War, Long Day's Journey into War, and A Stillness Heard Round the World: The End of the Great War. He lives in Newark, Delaware.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations xi
Preface xiii
I Leaving for Good (1839-1840) 1
II Silver Spoon (1819-1831) 20
III The Student Prince (1832-1838) 39
IV Courting a Husband (1838-1839) 66
V Serene Highness to Royal Highness (1840-1841) 90
VI Taking Hold (1841-1843) 123
VII The Goldfish-bowl (1843-1844) 140
VIII The Queen's Business (1845-1848) 160
IX The Violent Year (1848) 192
X Master Mason (1849-1851) 213
XI The Palace of Glass (1850-1851) 245
XII From Glory to Gloom (1852-1853) 267
XIII Impeaching the Prince (1853-1855) 294
XIV Albert's War (1855-1856) 316
XV Managing Destiny (1856-1858) 336
XVI Royal Enterprises, Ltd (1858-1860) 356
XVII The Treadmill Donkey (1860-1861) 381
XVIII Duty Done (1861) 405
Afterword: Legacy 432
Sources 444
Acknowledgements 457
Genealogical Charts 458
Index 463
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