Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Queen Victoria...Teen Idol?

"Teen Idol" are probably not the first two words that pop into your mind when you think about this lady, are they?

But if you go back about fifty years from when that photo was taken, she would definitely have won a “Most Popular” or “Most Talked About” or “Top Teen Celebrity” award back around 1840.

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) is Great Britain’s longest reigning monarch--she was on the throne for 64 years. She’s one teen diva who really got her tiara: she became queen in 1837, just a few weeks after her eighteenth birthday.

Some people call Victoria the first royal media idol, way pre-dating Princess Di or Prince William. There’s a reason for that.

For the 120 years before Victoria, England had been ruled by a bunch of old guys, all but one of whom were named George. The early Georges didn’t even speak English when they became king--they came from Germany--and were fat and ugly, or had weird or disgusting habits, or were insane (poor George III had a rare blood disease that affected his brain), or didn’t even bother spending much time in England. And at that time, royalty was kind of it for media stars. There were few singers or actors with huge popular followings because only the wealthy usually got to see them perform, and there just weren't all that many wealthy people…but everyone knew who the King was at any given time.

So the 1830s roll around, and everyone realizes that the next ruler of England is likely to be a girl. Okay, she’s not drop-dead gorgeous, but she’s lively and charming and very English (though her mother was a German princess). In other words, totally different from the Georges.

There was no television or Internet or radio or even photography at that time, but there were magazines. And the magazines loved to publish pictures and stories about the girl who would presumably be queen some day, because issues with anything about Vic sold really, really well.

In addition, Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, was probably the first stage mom. Once Victoria turned 13, Mom took her on a series of trips around England during the summers, visiting schools or factories or wherever else she’d draw the biggest crowds. You’d better believe the English public lapped it up…the Georges had usually avoided going out in public.

When she actually became queen, it got even crazier. Suddenly everything was named “Victoria.” If a manufacturer wanted to sell a new pattern of china, or a milliner (maker of ladies’ hats) wanted to sell a new style of bonnet, or a candymaker a new kind of bon-bon, all they did was call their product the “Victoria” and it would sell like crazy, because everyone was so excited about having a pretty young girl on the throne instead of a George. (Incidentally, not one of Victoria’s nine children was named George, at least as a first name. Interesting.)

I’ll be writing more about Victoria and her early years in future posts.


Megan said...

Hey Marissa,
This summer I actually got to see Queen Victoria's bedroom reconstructed in Kensington palace. It was made to look EXACTLY the way it had looked when she learned that she was going to be queen. Pretty amazing. I also saw her diamond tiara at the Tower of London. It was so beautiful, tiny and delicate (and FILLED with diamonds!).

Danette Haworth said...

Very interesting post!

Nancy Haddock said...

Nineteen Teen is one of the most original blogs I've seen! Queen Victoria as a teen idol of her time? Brilliant, and true!

Well done, ladies!

Marissa Doyle said...

Thank you, Nancy--glad you're enjoying it!

Marissa Doyle said...

Megan--It's been years since I was in London...I would SO love to see that!