She took it with her wherever she went, even writing in her diary of ”my own little bed which travels always with me”, and now this significant piece of furniture, which Queen Victoria used while still a princess, is going on display.
The wooden frame, complete with storage drawers and arched head and footboards, has been bought by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) and it will go on show this spring as part of an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth. It will form part of a display at Kensington Palace where the second longest reigning monarch in British history was born in May 1819, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent and his wife, Victoria.
Visitors might even be able to catch a glimpse of a plaque attached to the bed which states that it was used by the then Princess Alexandrina Victoria on holidays in Broadstairs, Kent which she visited with her mother, the all powerful Duchess of Kent. It accompanied the pair on stays at Pierremont Hall in the seaside resort where Victoria, as she did at home, slept in the same room as her mother.
Victoria kept the bed throughout her life and it only left royal possession in 1906, following the queen’s death five years earlier. HRP bought it back for the princely sum of £4,250 at a sale organised by the Wiltshire auction house, Henry Aldridge & Son. It will form part of a display charting Victoria’s years at Kensington Palace which aims to bring to life the rooms as the young princess knew them.
Victoria’s time at Kensington Palace wasn’t universally happy. It became clear from her early years that she was destined to inherit the throne and her mother put in place what became known as the ‘Kensington System’, a strict set of rules that gave the widowed duchess a huge amount of control over her daughter’s life. Along with her main adviser, Sir John Conroy, she aimed to dominate the young princess and ensure as much influence over her as possible. However, when Victoria did succeed to the throne, on June 20th 1837, she immediately rebelled against the system and the duchess and Conroy soon found themselves isolated.
The exhibition at Kensington Palace opens on May 24th 2019, the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth.