This detailed and well thought out exhibition gives wonderful insight into Queen Victoria’s childhood at Kensington Palace.
From the second you step into the rooms in which this exhibition is displayed, you are automatically transported into the world that Queen Victoria had known as a child living at Kensington Palace. The rooms have been created with so much detail and thought it is a completely absorbing experience – no matter how much you think you know about her childhood.
With its wide variety of paintings, objects and information, Victoria: A Royal Childhood really manages to bring the then Princess Victoria’s childhood to life. In particular seeing objects that clearly meant a lot to her – such as her dolls and doll’s house or even a story that she wrote, it paints a vivid picture of a child who had great imagination which must have helped her through some of the more unhappier elements of her childhood.
These unhappier elements such as her dealings with her mother’s advisor Sir John Conroy and the Kensington System put in place to ‘protect’ her are also carefully dealt with and certainly reveal Victoria’s sense of frustration and longing for freedom. It was not a fairytale and you can see how the restrictions placed on her led to a breakdown in her relationship with her mother that never fully recovered – this gives her story an emotional core allowing the visitor to sympathise with her and make her feel as though in many respects she was quite a lonely individual – no matter how close her relationship with her governess Baroness Lezhen was.
It is clear throughout this exhibition that Victoria had quite a simple upbringing – with everything regards to the food she ate and education very much structured in a way that must have been a struggle to keep to – no wonder her temper became well known.
However, there are glimmers of happiness shown through the exhibition in the rooms in which trips to opera and ballet proved to be joyful. I loved the way in which this particular part of Victoria is highlighted in the exhibition through an elegant way. Each room captures an important aspect to Victoria’s life and finishes just after she is crowned – and on the stairs on which she met Prince Albert for the first time.
Throughout the exhibition, you feel as though you are experiencing Victoria’s early years with her right beside you – her voice and personality somehow come through each piece of art and object on display that has clearly been selected with great care.
Victoria: A Royal Childhood is an eye opening experience that is certainly more than worth paying a visit to.
By Emma Clarendon
Victoria: A Royal Childhood is on display at the Kensington Palace.