Yesterday I drove to the south coast in order to spend the weekend with my father. Despite the waterlogged lawn and the evident puddles on many surrounding roads, the South-East has been experiencing some remarkably mild weather recently as December approaches. We spent the late morning sitting out on the terrace in bright sunshine, drinking Bovril and chatting.
At one point my father sad “I want to show you something” and disappeared inside, returning a few minutes later with a five-page photocopy of the preface to a new book called The Queen, Her Lover and the Most Notorious Spy In History, written by Roland Perry, a professor and writer-in-residence at Monash University in Australia and published in Australia by Allen & Unwin.
My father had received it in the post on Friday, sent by an old friend of his who lives in Victoria and thought he might like to know of it and/or even buy said volume if it should ever be published in the United Kingdom.
The central revelation of the book concerns the young girl who became Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1837; who married the love of her life Prince Albert; who had an apparently great sex life producing multiple children; who gave her name to the 19th Century; who disapproved emphatically with the dissolute meanderings of her son who later became Edward VII and all those who behaved like him; who went into a decade and more of mourning when Price Albert died; who then had a frowned-upon ‘weirdly close’ relationship with her servant and gilly John Brown; and whose frosty, starched, buttoned-up and autocratic demeanour became forever identified with emotionally-stunted clergymen, ‘pillars of society’ (hypocritical or otherwise) and conservative attitudes to society generally, from which the British population – and to an extent, the whole world – took most of the 20th Century to recover, if not altogether fully escape.
According to Professor Perry, before becoming Queen, Victoria had not only had a torrid affair with a British nobleman as a teenager, but produced a child by him which was spirited away and quietly ‘erased’ from the history books. Perry also asserts that Prince Albert was not the ‘love of her life’ at all, but simply a suitable European member of the aristocracy, whom those who mattered considered might make a half-decent consort, that she married with the utmost reluctance as a matter of convenience. Apparently, a cache of letters and paperwork (or was it copies of said items?) relating to this extraordinary episode found their way into the darkest recesses of the KGB, courtesy of the infamous spy and Keeper of The Queen’s Pictures, Sir Anthony Blunt.
Is this just a madcap theory built upon mountains of spurious evidence, speculation and conjecture … or does it represent a stunning new insight into our past?
Here’s a link to a recent review of the book, as featured on the website of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph – QUEEN VICTORIA’S LITTLE SECRET