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When ueen Victoria's husband Prince Albert died in December 1861 the nation was paralysed with grief He was only forty two and official bulletins had until the day before he died given no cause for alarm This book examines the circumstances leading up to it the ritual of his funeral and obseuies and offers theories on what killed him


10 thoughts on “Magnificent obsessionVictoria Albert and the death that changed the monarchy

  1. says:

    Where I got the book purchased on I guess I haven't read an in depth biography of ueen Victoria before just scads and scads of books about the era and my view of the ueen was the standard one a great monarch but also a passionately engaged family woman who was distraught about her husband's death and remained in mourning for him for the rest of her life but otherwise got on with ueeningThis thoroughly entertaining history has revised my view UITE a bit I heard Helen Rappaport talk about the book on BBC radio and knew I had to read it and I'm so glad I did Let's use headings to sort out my thoughts about what I learnedAlbert the King I always thought of Albert as a bit of a second fiddle but NO Late in the book Rappaport makes the point that Albert's death probably saved Victoria as ueen because since she was pregnant for much of their lives together he basically took over all of the important work and let her sink into the role of gutes Weibchen good little wifey that she obviously relished I'm guessing that Victoria LOVED being dominated by Albert with his strict principles and relentless pursuit of excellence between them they made their eldest son and heir's childhood a living hell and her attitude toward him seems to have been remarkably fawning for a woman who was uite the domineering ueenie when she was single It's telling that her faithful servant of the post Albert period John Brown was a similarly domineering figure he called her 'wumman' AHAHAHAHAHAHAPassive aggressive much? But on the other hand ueen Vic appears to have taken her revenge against Albert being the boss of her by insisting that all the rooms be kept very cold with the windows open even though her poor dear husband was ever a shiver and wore a wig at breakfast to keep his pate warm And she treated all of his health problems as little sniffoos until it was TOO LATE Did she have aDeath wish? Victoria was given to excessive mourning and a lugubrious interest in death When her mother died she went completely off the deep end to the point where Albert got on her case about self indulgence etc etc Putting that side by side with the above point I wonder Did ueen Vic secretly WISH her husband dead so she could revel in widow's weeds forever without the inconvenience of the Man of the Palace putting his foot down against it?Malingering tippling and spending money on statues; wouldn't YOU fire this woman? Mourning provided a perfect excuse for ueen Vic to do pretty much what she liked which was essentially to stay on vacation forever This caused some constitutional crises in a system where the monarch theoretically had her hand on the tiller of the realm; her ministers were supposed to consult her about all sorts of things but she was usually miles away in both physical and emotional terms And she spent what today would probably be millions of public money putting up statues and other memorials to Albert against his express wishes although this did give us the Albert Hall where my first degree ceremony was held the Natural History and Victoria Albert museums where I spent many a happy hour as a student and Imperial College where I was for a brief but glorious moment a TV presenter So I pretty much owe the early 80s to ueen Vic's obsessionsA redemptive note And somehow she got away with it all eventually growing up a bit and emerging as everyone's favorite ueen Grandma Except if you were one of her long suffering children If Rappaport shows redemption it's in extremely summary form and I'm glad of it Hooray for the one sided argumentThis is such a great story of nuttiness on the throne that I'd heartily recommend it to all Victoria fans whether you agree with Rappaport's interpretation or not At the least it'll give you something to rail against Very nicely written really uite short 248 pages of text plus a short discussion of Albert's symptoms and if these things matter to you the US hardback edition is beeeeyooootifully bound and presented I do love a hardback book that lays open obediently at your page wherever you are in the book so my thanks go out to St Martin's PressConclusion what are you waiting for? Go read it and tell me what YOU thinkUpdate oooo forgot to mention that there's tons of interesting stuff about Victorian mourning customs in there for the history buffs and morbid people 61116 reread after a Facebook conversation started by Helen Rappaport who is one of those very approachable writers on social media reminded me that there's a TV series knocking around somewhere must check it out I enjoyed the book just as much the second time around and found myself focusing a bit on the hapless Bertie and Alix as well as ueen Vic's daughter Alice all victims of Victoria's moods and self centeredness


  2. says:

    The meat of this book is in the title ueen Victoria was obsessed with her husband Prince Albert when he was alive and then became obsessed by and with his death The subtitle though the death that changed the British monarchy that's where this book gets tricky or I suppose if I'm following idiom here vegetarian I have no doubt that the ueen's longest of mournings changed the British monarchy but I'm not sure Rappaport proved that anywhere in her book I do think the prince consort's death and Victoria's shutting herself away for so long had an affect on the monarchy; it probably weakened the power of the monarch considerably Rappaport though doesn't really go there in any great detail There is lots of hemming and hawing and grasping of hands and exasperation by Gladstone and ministers about the ueen spending so much time in Balmoral and Osborne and not enough time in London; there were calls for her abdication and the doing away with of the monarchy itself I've read elsewhere that her behavior constitutionally eroded the power of the monarchy; and I think that's the path Rappaport could have explored She did elude to the current monarch's sense of duty bearing the hallmarks of a tradition set by Prince Albert and also a snide aside about whether this tradition would survive beyond her reign wait and see Rappaport did a tremendous job on showing how the death changed a monarch without delving too deeply in how the monarchy was changed for the better or for the worse I don't think this is a mere uibble but I also don't think this should stop you from reading what is still a very good well written book


  3. says:

    The brilliant Helen Rappaport has done it again written a book about a subject we thought we knew all about and made it fresh and new and in this case mesmerizing I knew Victoria wore black for the rest of her long life after Albert died but I had no idea of her obsession with death and mourning etiuette Nor was I aware that she was such a typical 19th century hysterical female Nor did I realize the extent of her royal malingering as one of her courtiers called her reluctance her refusal to perform most of her duties She would regularly retreat to Balmoral 600 miles from London forcing her ministers to take a 24 hour train trip to get to her It was also surprising to discover how fragile Albert's health was for most of his life and how he declined into his last illness for fully two years before his death in December of 1861 During this time Victoria while focused on him to an unhealthy extent dismissed his illness as hypochondria Having hardly been ill than once or twice in her life she nonetheless reclined into hypochondria herself after his death to avoid appearing in publicThe overworked Albert was a remarkable figure and during his 20 years as Victoria's consort made an important contribution to English government and foreign affairs He was a skilled musician and interested in the sciences He was extremely well read and of course knew everyone who was anyone in Europe In fact he and Victoria were related to most of themFor a fine blog review by Elaine of Random Book and Opera Lover go here for another by dovegreyreader go here is a book for which I wish I had a sixth star; it's that good2012 No 46


  4. says:

    The book was good well researched informative and presented an interesting topic But at times I felt like I was reading a long history paperI think the average reader might struggle with this book a bit As an academic whose focus is in that time period I could draw on my knowledge of the time period and related the info I was reading in this book to other historic events of the time This is a must read for historians and Victorian scholars but that average reader??? it’s hard to say which was why I didn’t rate it as highI think my academic background helped me appreciate this book than if I were reading it as a casual reader I think if this book was a little less academic it would have broad appeal I did however enjoyed this book but not as much as I think I would have if it was written as of a story though See my full review here


  5. says:

    This book is for those people who hunger for information as to what really happened during the final days of Prince Albert and the effects it had to ueen Victoria This is intended as a companion book to existing biographies of this mythical royal coupleAs a fan of biographies I am deeply much in love with books that explores the human side of its subject rather than just narrating the events that I could just simply read in free articles such as Wikipedia This book offers way than that Its meticulous narration to detail about the progress of Prince Albert's illness as if hour by hour day by day the author witnessed the events herself until his death satisfied my hunger for extreme detailsFor those of you who have read a biography of ueen Victoria I am pretty sure that most of you have sparked an interest to what kind of person Prince Albert was so that a British ueen would become so smitten by him in the most bizarre manner Is he really that mythical legendary Prince of every woman's dream?This book is divided into two parts The first one is dedicated to Prince Albert a brief look into his life and his eventual betrothal to ueen Victoria his aspirations sense of duty and his loyalty to his adopted country despite his unpopularity as a foreigner The Second one is dedicated to Victoria and the obsessive after effects of the death of her husband caused to herI love this book because it taps to sources that are usually overlooked prompting you to deduce that the author really did her research and offered a very good attention to detail about the personal side of the ueen and her sense of loss This book shows how one should write an account Full of humanity passion attention to detail and presenting facts to uestions that are sometimes been neglected by previous Biographers


  6. says:

    This is actually the first non fiction book I've read over ueen Victoria It challenged my knowledge and perceptions of the ueen and her reign


  7. says:

    I've done a lot of reading on the Tudors but I'm less familiar with the later monarchs Victoria's great love for her consort Prince Albert has always been a source of fascination and this book fleshes out their storyIn a traditional Victorian era household the man was in charge but Victoria and Albert's relationship was made uniue by her status as ueen Denied a kingly title by convention Albert was actually a uite active participant in Great Britain's government and his ideas had a profound influence on his smitten wife When Albert died unexpectedly at the age of 42 the ueen was left adrift As expected of a woman during the time she responded to her loss with frailty and confusion but she was less able to fulfill her people's expectations of their monarch She retreated into her grief and sorrow and much of the work that Albert had done to bolster the couple's public image fell into disrepair While some grief was understandable even admirable her failure to meet her public obligations was met with frustration and discontentOn the one side I read this book with some anger towards Victoria She was often stubborn and self deluding She had lost a husband but she still had much to live for including several children and a country that needed her Yet even as my anger built I would sometimes stop and think how alone she must have felt Because of her uniue position in British society there was no one who could speak to her as Albert had and there was no one who could fully understand that predicament It was obvious that Victoria faced some very real and debilitating depression and reading her story made me exceedingly glad that I am not a member of any royal familyThis was an interesting depiction of Victoria's life with and later without Albert but I still found myself wanting just a little bit Although decades passed before Victoria joined Albert in the afterlife the latter half of the book skips from decade to decade with some rapidity and it never really touches on the final years of her reign In fact chronologically speaking the last events described happen in 1878 over twenty years before Victoria's death Although I realize this is the story of Victoria and Albert not just the story of Victoria I doubt she stopped thinking of her beloved husband near the end of her life and I suspect that her own impending death must have brought him to mind I wish I'd known about how she spent her last years I was also curious about the legacy that this relationship had on Great Britain and the monarchy and I don't feel the author really spent enough time exploring that aspect of the events I guess I'll just have to find another biography to fill in the gaps


  8. says:

    While the subject matter was intriguing the writing made it very difficult to stay interested I tried really hard to stick with it because of the subject matter The dry repetitive and robotic writing style uickly made reading it a chore Will look for another book on the topic


  9. says:

    After having really enjoyed the author’s series on the Romanovs I was all set to love this book too especially since it’s about a subject I didn’t really know much about at all However the book tended to drag in many places and often felt like reading a report than a simple book I enjoyed the meticulous research that had obviously gone into it and the attention and respect given to a very complicated event in British history but I just couldn’t get into it as much perhaps because the event isn’t as cerebral as the lives of the Romanovs I will still be on the lookout excitedly for of the author’s work but this one was of a miss for me


  10. says:

    The book lives up to its title by showing the grand scale of Victoria's obsession with Albert in life and in death It does not live up to its subtitle It tells how the monarchy was managed during and after Albert's life with Victoria but does not discuss whether the monarchy itself was changedDespite some kind words by the author Victoria is shown to be stubborn and self centered throughout She seemed to need the status of her role but did not want its responsibility Albert helped her to avoid this responsibility; She later used her mourning for Albert as an excuse to avoid itAuthor Helen Rappaport gives a good portrait of Albert While Victoria smothered him with her needy affection he may have seen his marriage as a career move He does not seem to return her affection in fact he feels that one of his princely duties is improving his wife Despite the image of a large happy and wholesome family projected at the time and through history there is a fundamental dysfunction and the eldest son bears the worst burdenRegarding the subtitle I was hoping this book would shed light on the evolution of the constitutional monarchy It would seem Victoria's seclusion created a vacuum which further strengthened parliament I was hoping this book would have some discussion on thisThere was a lot of text devoted to Albert's death and Bertie's illness The state of the ueen's seclusion the reaction of her family the public the government and her stubborn insistence on memorializing her deceased husband are given good coverage John Brown and his influence on Victoria are discussed The book ends abruptly with a discussion on the diagnosis and treatment of Albert the state of medicine at the time and today's opinions