Monday, December 19, 2011

Late Breaking News

Santa's Elves
Photo courtesy of Kidz Cool Zone

While Santa's elves were busy making toys, grooming the reindeer, and packing Santa's sleigh, I was hard at work on my business, A Word in Season. If you haven't already heard, I've published several articles on two different sites, Factoidz and HubPages, on varying topics. Since these articles have little relevance to the content on Vintage Betrothal, I have had a hard time finding a way to get the word out. To that end, my friend Armina is building me a website, which I hope will be live by the end of this month.

In addition to freelance writing services, I will be offering editing services, writers' resources, and networking opportunities for other aspiring writers. While my website is in utero, I've developed a Facebook Page where you can find links to all my current pieces out there in cyberspace.

In addition to writing articles and working on my website, I've been reading Bryan Allain's book, "31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo." This amazing little eBook is packed with revolutionary ideas for making your blog work for you. In his delightfully humorous way, Bryan inspires bloggers to write better posts, narrow and define their purpose, and find their tribe.

Though I've already made some of the changes Bryan suggests, in the coming weeks I will be further implementing more of his blog-altering ideas. In fact, the next big change (and this one really is big) is already underway. Next week, I will tell you all about it.

For now, I want to thank you for the time you have spent here with me in 2011. It has been such an honor to be invited into your life, and I hope I will continue to be welcome in 2012. If you're a first-time visitor, I want to thank you for stopping by. I hope you will join us again next week as the transformation of Vintage Betrothal continues to unfold.

Peace & Joy,


P.S. Thought you might like to see the beginnings of our holiday decorations.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Vacation

Art Deco Christmas
Photo courtesy of Art Nouveau and Art Deco

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

I'm getting all my greetings out to you now, for I am taking a holiday!

I hope your holiday season is filled with warm laughter, hot drinks, high-spirited merriment, and joyous love.

I will be back the second week of January.

Peace & Joy,

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Brand New Season

Brand New Day (Breaking Free)
Photo courtesy of Flickr's Finest

This next season I will entertain you with some fun process-type posts while I continue researching the next jewelry periods. It feels monumental that we are moving out of the dark and into the light in the jewelry periods at the same exact time I'm moving from darkness to light in my personal journey. I can't tell you how happy I am to be on the research trail, hunting for new treasures.

A Brand New Day
Photo courtesy of Shasi Kumar Aansoo

This past week, I have found a gold mine in the Simpson Library in the form of a sweet little book from 1954, Alexandra: Edward VII's Unpredictable Queen. Written by an English woman named E. E. P. Tisdall, this treasure opens on Alexandra's family and their humble beginnings as wards of the King of Denmark and closes with "Her Last Defiance," which I still have yet to read about. Oh, the joy of discovery!

Of course, beginning at the beginning also affords a view of the daunting task I have before me. It will surely take some time to find the angles that will best allow me to open her life up as a model for how a warrior princess like me can become a dignified queen. Together, we will wade through the anecdotes, the facts, and the memorable quotes in hopes that Alexandra will have a thing or two to teach us.

Brand New Day
Photo courtesy of The UpShot

To whet your appetite for what's to come, I leave you with a quote which highlights Alexandra's affinity for fashion from a very young age: "Alix was not really a promising pupil except in deportment--which came to her naturally--in riding, in music, gymnastics and dressmaking. At this last she soon had great skill--a very complicated art in those days--and although her knowledge would one day give her a reputation for wilfulness and obstinancy among 'by appointment' houses, the result was that she always displayed herself to the best advantage." (Tisdall, p. 14)

On a Good Note

Edge of the World
Photo Courtesy of She Deserves My Best

I have not dropped off the face of the planet, though that may appear to be the case. My grandma sent me an e-mail the other day. "I haven't seen you much on Facebook. Is everything all right?" I felt so bad. I have been completely absent from everyone. The last time this happened I was struggling with some very hard things. I'm happy to report that is not the case this time. Nope, this time I'm struggling with some very good things.

Can anyone say irony? Good and bad things both seem to create a tension, a type of turmoil that is difficult for me to navigate. The true irony is that I've actually found it harder to write about good things while I'm going through them than to write about bad things while I'm going through them. I am determined to come out of hiding this week and start writing again. Meet me at my other blog for news of a more personal nature. Here, I will proceed to keep my promise and wrap up our exploration of Queen Victoria's life.

"Cheeky" Young Victoria
Photo Courtesy of Eyes Wired Open

Determined to leave you on a good note with Queen Victoria, I have finally found some words that will bring happy smiles on our faces about our complicated monarch. Remember when I wrote about the film Young Victoria?* I would like to draw you back to that spritely young woman with her pixie naughtiness and her sharp wit. Brilliant, curious, dynamic, spirited, vigorous, vivacious. These words capture the essence of the true Victoria. She most definitely lost her spark for many years after Albert died, which makes sense given her intensity in every other sphere of life.

I am happy to have found some evidence that she did not fully remain tightly wound, stodgy, dreary silhouette we see in photos from her final years. She spent many hours painting and drawing scenes from her sanctuary at Balmoral, and she celebrated and doted upon her family and friends until her death in 1901. She sent every single one of her nine children and forty-some living grandchildren cards on their birthdays every year. She was faithfully fond of her grandchildren, especially Princess Alice's children, who lost their mother in their young childhood.

Victoria's portraits of her children
Photo Courtesy of Polyvore's Katfaerie

Speaking of her grandchildren, her royal legacy upon the earth is without precedent. She is the Great Mother of kings, queens, emperors, and empresses throughout Europe. She wrote and drew in blissful ignorance of the dramas that would unfold as her children and grandchildren rose to power and fell, sometimes very hard, as in the case of Princess Alexandra (Alicky). She wrote of Alicky's marriage to Nicholas: "How I thought of darling Alicky, and how impossible it seemed that the gentle little simple Alicky should be the great Empress of Russia.' Oh, the bliss of knowing only the beginning and not the ending for some of her family members.**

I promised to leave you smiling, so I will end with this quote from Marina Warner. It made me smile, and I hope it makes you smile, too: "Queen Victoria's curiosity and gaeity did not dminish with age (the principal reason we have for thinking her severe and mirthless is that photographs in the eighties and nineties were to be exposed too long to capture a smile): excursions were still a source of delight, and she became more adventurous as she grew older, visiting Switzerland for the first time in 1868, Italy in 1879, the South of France in 1882, Spain in 1889. Her travelling style reflects her roots in the eighteenth century and its traditions of the Grand Tour...Yet in the midst of her extravagant ways, the girlish gush of pleasure at new sights and new experiences remained....Up to 1890, she was still busy painting throughout her holidays, seeking out splendid views with the help of local guides, sometimes ambitiously covering a double sheet with an Alpine range 'glowing in the setting sun, what is called here Alpengluhen. It was glorious...'" (Queen Victoria's Sketchbook, p. 208-09)

*By the way, if you haven't seen the movie Young Victoria, I highly recommend it. The history is accurate to a fault, the images are brilliant, and the acting is stunning. Their portrayal of our queen was done with excellence, grace, and accuracy. I've linked you up to a clip so you can see a few scenes from the movie and hear actors Emily Blunt & Rupert Friend talk about their experience playing Victoria and Albert.

*To learn more about Alicky's sad end, I highly recommend Helen Rappaport's book, The Last Days of the Romanovs.

Friday, November 4, 2011

So Much Going On

Peach Tree by Vincent Van Gogh
Photo Courtesy of

Well, on one hand, I'm writing to tell you how sorry I am to report that once again I don't have my final post written on Queen Victoria. On the other hand, I'm also writing to tell you how happy I am that I'm behind for really good reasons and not just because I'm under the weather or under the thumb.

For the past month, my hubby and I have set sail on a journey toward living from passion and rest. We've experienced tremendous breakthrough in our marriage and in defining our purpose, dreams, and life work. Through this journey, I have experienced moments of great hope and moments of great sorrow. I am glad to announce that we are nearing the end of this phase of our journey. Our little tree has grown sturdier, and the blossoms are beginning to emerge. Spring is surely upon us!

I am filled with hope, while at the same time wondering what the coming weeks will bring in terms of weather and nourishment for our tree. Despite these niggling fears and doubts, I believe we will very soon be eating juicy, sweet peaches off our tree. I can't wait for our summer to arrive.

Photo Courtesy of Soy Candles by Phebes

In the meantime, I'm doing the best I can to juggle all the writing balls I have up in the air right now. One of the most important aspects of this season for me has been to clearly define myself as a writer and my dreams for the future. My dreams for the future have to do with writing, but they are much bigger and include raising my children, loving my husband, and being available for those who need my attention beyond the scope of my daily work.

I have felt more than a little frenzied at times, and have often found myself wandering between my office and the living room without clear direction or focus. I'm afraid my kids and my writing have been suffering as a consequence. Part of the reason for this is that I have been spending hours a day talking and processing with my hubby. In the past couple of weeks we have both found ourselves annoyed with how much time it takes to do life together. Starting this weekend, we are going to use that talking time to determine how we can begin spending less time talking and more time doing the things we've been talking about. Not an easy thing, since I LOVE to talk, especially to him. Haha!

Anyway, I hope you will bear with me and stay tuned. I hope to have a final post on Queen Victoria and the beginnings of the next post on the Art Deco Movement by next week. I raise my glass in a toast to myself for being an eternal optimist and to you for being such a faithful reader. It warms my heart to have such faithful readers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Victoria As Mystery

River Dee, The Highlands; by Queen Victoria
Photo Courtesy of Queen Pictoria

I have thoroughly enjoyed this rabbit trail into Queen Victoria's Sketchbook, but I'm feeling it in my gut. This is not the path we're supposed to be on. I'm not writing about jewelry much, and I'm not even really writing about Victoria. I'm just reading about her, and I'm growing tired of the topic. I recently found a boon of research possibilities for our next queen at Simpson University.

They have databases filled with journal articles and shelves filled with books...old articles and old books. Just the mother lode I have been searching for. Furthermore, I am on campus every other week for a women's group I attend, and I can spend a couple of hours each week there. Plus, my friend has borrowing rights and will check out books for me! What a gift!!

Twilight, by Queen Victoria
Photo Courtesy of Queen Pictoria

In light of my feelings, I wanted this to be our final post about Victoria. I had this bright idea to wrap things up with some highlights from Victoria's own words, focusing in on our common love of journaling. Alas, I am disappointed and slightly discouraged that most of her quotes have a sharp edge of self-pity and negativity. I'm not really surprised, as Victoria is definitely one of those "there's always something with you" people, but I'm still bummed to have to change my approach.

Since she was a far better painter than she was a writer, I've decided to push into one more week with a final post next week on highlights of one of her favorite painting subjects, the landscapes of Balmoral. She spent much of her time following Albert's death at Balmoral, and it was at Balmoral where she first met John Brown, her final life companion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The First Step to Writing

Victorian Era Cameo Brooch
Click here for more info on Victorian Era Cameos.

Reading is the first step to writing, so once again I'm taking you with me into the pages of Ms. Warner's book, Queen Victoria's Sketchbook. I'm currently learning about Victoria's relationship with Lord Melbourne: Mentor, teacher, friend, confidante, and father figure. I've chosen some of my favorite quotes to share with you on this topic. I do hope you like the picture they paint.

"She was down-to-earth, impatient of nonsense, fascinated by unembellished fact, quick to laugh 'till her gums showed', and inclined to gobble her food. But she also had a strong romantic strain, which made her less robust, less humorous, more volatile." (p. 77)

Victorian Era Stick Pin Brooch
Click here for more on Stick Pins

I am completely fascinated by the adjectives Ms. Warner chose to describe our queen. The setup for this quote is a comparison between Victoria and a nightingale. A quick study of this celebrated songbird reveals further insights into Victoria's character. Indeed, Victoria was a mixture of stolid romanticism and playful spunkiness: Strong, yet soft; of easy humor, yet unflinchingly stern; deeply loving, yet stiflingly cloying. I most recognize our queen in the words of Andrew Marvell:

Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease
And above human flight dost soar aloft
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft:
The bird named from that paradise you sing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Upon her ascension to the throne, this "very experienced, subtle, discerning man took immense pains to lead Victoria to understand government, and that he was the only person to do so at the time. He undertook her first political education, a duty that he discharged in the main with wisdom, a light touch, inimitable tact and profound responsibility." (p. 80) Under his tutelage, the unfledged princess quickly blossomed into the queen of old we now celebrate.

Victorian Era Blue Sapphire Brooch
Click here for more on Aesthetic Jewelry

Ms. Warner notes that Victoria's diaries are filled with accounts of her meetings with Melbourne for the next three years: "Melbourne talking, joking, gossiping, instructing, clarifying, helping, reassuring, encouraging, enlivening; a brilliant, droll, individual mind forming that of a simple, ingenuous young woman forty years his junior. Victoria reported his conversation with the fidelity of Boswell, catching his inimitable caustic phrasing with a genuine diarist's gift of recall." (p. 78)

Again, her descriptions are rich with colorful adjectives. I especially love that last phrase about the diarist's gift of recall, given that I'm a true diarist myself. I ache to get my hands on Victoria's diaries, and I am always on the lookout for links to these priceless remnants of our queen. I feel the more I can read her actual words, the better I will know her and the people who inspired her most. It is evident that Ms. Warner had access to these diaries, and I so appreciate her perspective on the inner workings of Victoria's soul and her relationships with these most important people.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Queen Victoria, Artist

Victoria sketches her children in 1846

I found another treasure the last time I visited our library: Queen Victoria's Sketchbook, by Marina Warner. Ms. Warner wrote this lovely book in 1979. It is clear that she is English and that she had access to Queen Victoria's diaries and sketchbooks. Her prose is filled with insight, clarity, and detailed facts. All the illustrations are provided courtesy of Victoria's sketchbooks, with a few contributions from some of her teachers over the years.

Victoria's diaries and sketches fit together like hand and glove, and both date back to 1827 and chronicle Victoria's life through 1890. I'm still making my way through the collection of insights and sketches, so I thought I'd share some juicy tidbits with you from this week's reading.

One of Victoria's many sketches of Louise Lehzen

"The deadliest sin in [Queen Victoria's] view was sloth, and the parable most suited to her nature and the character of her times is that of the talents, with its stern warning that native gifts should never lie buried and unused." {p.7} "But Victoria was not puritanical, and she made her industry serve her pleasure." {p. 8}

"She was the monarch who ruled during the epoch of which we are the direct heirs, as beneficiaries and as victims, and her art forms a distant yet audible accompaniment to the policies that were carried out under her rule. Through her sketches of genre scenes and picturesque peasantry we see the age's bafflement at the reality of poverty. Her tender portraits of her children announces the clear ascendancy of the family as an institution to be given all protection--the Victorians were the first to legislate the rights of married women and children." {p. 8}

One of my favorites of her sketches. This is her music teacher, Lablanche. Her affection shines through in his expression, I think.

It occurs to me here to mention that many women and children who made it home safely the day the Titanic sank likely owe their lives to Victoria's sentimentality and tenderness toward women and children.

"Her attraction to exoticism, dark-eyed and dusky, is part of the dream that took the English to Africa, India, and all points far away." {p. 9} This final quote paints a glorious picture of Queen Victoria as the fantastical dreamer and lover of adventure and all things exotic. Isn't it cool that her dreams sparked the advancement and exploration of exotic places, putting them forever on the maps of the Old World and the New?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finding My Rhythm

Courtesy of Shabby Blogs

It's Thursday already, and I've spent my entire week working on pressing projects that, although integral to my blog, leave nothing much for me to say about our queen. Don't panic, though. I definitely have something to say.

My husband is on sabbatical for the next couple of months. He's leaning into rest and making some shifts in priorities. Since I enjoy him the most when he's at peace and rest, I'm looking forward to it. It will be exciting to see what life will be like to truly live in our flow together.

I'm also pressing into rest, though mine will be a working sabbatical. Every day I set aside time to write, research, and devour anything I can find about successful internet marketing. Currently I'm dining on 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, by Bryan Allain. His witty humor and daily Mojo Exercises are responsible for the changes you've been seeing here and on my other blog, Brightness of Your Dawn. I am determined to take my work to the next level in the next couple of months.

Courtesy of Cutest Blog on the Block

You are officially invited to join me on this journey toward honing my craft. The first and most obvious change is the makeover I've given Vintage Betrothal. I was up until 1:30 am Tuesday, searching and agonizing to find the perfect background for our exploration of queens, jewelry, and transformation.

I was going for feminine, vintage, romantic, rich, and classy. Sadly, I was unable find all of these at Cutest Blog on the Block, so I turned to Shabby Blogs. Both offer top-quality, totally free blog backgrounds and other blog enhancement features. Very cool!

Another recent change I've made is removing Google ads completely. When you come to my blog, I want you to feel welcome, taken care of, encouraged, and nurtured. Just as I would hate for you to encounter pushy sales people in my office or living room, I don't want them bugging you while you're here. I will continue to include the beauties in the sidebars with links to my brother's business, Weston Jewelry. They are a hallmark of Vintage Betrothal. Not to mention that his bling is the best bling for the best prices. One last change for this week, six paragraphs. No more, no less.

Until next time...

Peace & Joy,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making Changes

Dubai Under Construction
I'm experimenting with some different layouts and colors. I welcome your feedback, especially if it is in any way hard to read. Thank you for your patience as I try different things on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Revisiting "Tackling Fear"

Victorian Era Cocktail Ring
I promised you some conclusions based on the evidence, and I'm ready to share my thoughts. Before I go there, though, I remind you that Queen Victoria is a deep and vast well to plumb. Her complicated history and the tragedies that impacted her life are not trite to me, and I in no way mean to diminish her pain and suffering. Nor do I fault her for the decisions she made. I am simply attempting to mine the gold for those of us who still have an opportunity to change the course of our lives. If we are to learn every lesson we can from her life, we must go down this dark path and find the treasure buried beneath the rubble.

Victoria came to a crossroads in her life, a moment where she had a definitive opportunity to choose between life or death. She chose death, and it affected everything. Not just her family, but a nation and the world. Who was Queen Victoria before this moment? She was vibrant, sassy, determined to be the best queen in history. She was romantic, idealistic, and fresh. She brought new ideas, new hopes, and new vision; feminine ideas, feminine hopes, and feminine vision to an institution that had long been held in the vice grip of male traditions. She was the bright shining star of England. This is what she is remembered for, but this isn't the whole story. I will be covering the whole story in my future book on this topic.

On December 14, 1861, the tragic loss of her husband presented her with the choice to forge a new path or walk down the old path. She succumbed to the old and fell hard and fast back into her old ways. Fear and control came crashing back into her world with the force of a tsunami.

Where Albert had drawn her out of her own private inner world, his death plummeted her back into it with a fierceness that nearly brought down an empire. It certainly shook the foundations of the jewelry and fashion industries, and I know there was unrest in other areas for years following her fateful decision to remain in reclusive mourning for so long.

Would I do it differently? A few years ago, I might not have. I probably would have chosen death. But today I choose life. How do we choose life in the face of tragedy? One day at a time, feeling our feelings, facing our fears, looking to those who would empathize but not enable us to remain stuck in self-pity or fear. Fear and self-pity leads to control. And we see this evidenced in Queen Victoria's life in spades.

For more of my personal thoughts on love & fear, click here and here.

Victorian Era Ornate Diamond Ring

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Presenting the Evidence

Marked "Exhibit A"
Last week I wrote about Alexandra (Alicky), granddaughter to Queen Victoria. I promised you evidence to back up my long held view that Queen Victoria dropped the ball as a mother and a queen. I've had a new voice clamoring at me this week. It's saying, "Do we really have to go down this road? What purpose does it serve to air the dirty laundry of a person many hail as the greatest English monarch of all time? I'm tired of hanging out in the moody gloom of the Late Victorian Era. Can't we just move on already?"

Though I don't exactly disagree with the voice, I retain my conviction that taking this slight detour through the Victorian Era serves a noble purpose. The problem is that I'm still not sure how to translate the conviction I have in my heart into words that will make sense. Because I need more time to chew on these morsels myself, I've decided to present the evidence in raw form and give us both another week to digest it further.

What Will Our Children Inherit?
I do know this much: It is vital that we recognize the effects our thoughts, actions, and beliefs will have on future generations. This is one key to becoming a true queen in every sense of the word. Queen Victoria made many excellent contributions to English and American societies, but these contributions alone did not make her an excellent queen.

I want to be an excellent queen, so I must resist the urge to focus solely on the positive contributions our queens have made to society, regardless of how depressing any one given post might turn out to be. I believe that looking at both the positive and negative contributions our queens have made not only on public life, but also in their private lives, will unlock the secrets for us so that we can stop repeating cycles, resist habitual patterns, and break family curses.

Carrolly Erickson, authoress
To that end, I will start with Carrolly Erickson's words about Alice, who was Alicky's mother and Queen Victoria's third child.

Excerpts from Alexandra: The Last Tsarina (p. 2-5).

The scene: Alice lays in bed morbidly sick with diphtheria. A letter has been dispatched to Queen Victoria, notifying her of Alice's worsening condition. All of Alice's children are stationed around her sick bed, offering prayers to a God who they have been taught may not really respond. The whole household assumed a stance of mourning before the worst had even happened.

Alice on her Deathbed
"Several crosses hung from the walls in the sickroom, together with verses from the Bible. There were pictures of Balmoral and of Windsor Castle and its grounds, and portraits of Alice's sisters and brothers, and several tapestries in the fashionable William Morris style. Dominating the room was a stained glass window, dedicated to the memory of Alicky's brother Frederick, or 'Frittie,' who at the age of three had fallen from that very window to his death on the terrace below. Alicky was too young to remember Frittie, she had been an infant when he fell, but she knew that her mother grieved for him and she and the other children went every year to visit his grave. On Frittie's memorial window were the comforting words from the Bible, 'Suffer the little children to come unto me.'"

"Since her marriage to Grand Duke Louis, Alice had thrown herself into the cause of social betterment, never satisfied with what she had done and always striving to do, as she said, 'the little good that is in my power.' Alice had created a stir in quiet Darmstadt, introducing the Art Nouveau style in the grand ducal palace, playing duets with Johannes Brahms (Darmstadters preferred Mozart), substituting informality for formal etiquette at court, even holding daring religious views that aimed, as she said, to separate the historical Jesus from such 'later embellishments' as the resurrection. Though her outraged mother-in-law called Alice 'a complete atheist,' and the quiet Darmsadters clucked their tongues over her outspokenness ('Providence, there is no Providence, no nothing!' Alice burst out when her favorite brother Bertie* was gravely ill, 'and I can't think how anyone can talk such rubbish.'), Alice maintained her opinions truculently, and dared others to refute them.

Female Ice Dragon
"A new and more liberal spirit had come to Hesse with Alice, but in her efforts to make changes and to air her advanced views she had brought disruption and controversy, and even as she lay on her deathbed there were whispers--respectful, quiet whispers--that her demise would restore a welcome peace to the community.

"For Alice's rigorous commitment to modernity was rooted in a mental and spiritual restlessness that made others uneasy. There was something hard and flinty at her core, an icy toughness of mind, that was seemingly at odds with her overall charitableness. She was unforgiving. Demanding a great deal of herself, she demanded as much of those around her, and constantly found them wanting--especially her warm-hearted, stolid husband Louis, who disappointed her at every turn.

Duchess Alice of Hesse
"Alicky, young as she was, understood something of her mother's uniqueness. Alice was not like other mothers; she did not adorn herself or curl her hair or wear colorful gowns. Her gowns were always black,
and her only ornaments were a large gold cross on a chain and a mourning brooch with locks of her father's hair and Frittie's inside. Her pale face bore a perpetual expression of preoccupation and sorrow, a haunted look. She was often very tired. Even when she took the children on a vacation to the seaside...she did not rest or play with them, but went to visit hospitals and schools, taking Alicky with her to give away nosegays of flowers. She was always helping people, and she was always full of sorrow. This much Alicky knew of her suffering mother.

"The following morning Louis sent another telegram to Queen Victoria at Windsor...The date on the telegrams, December 13, carried an ominous implication. Seventeen years earlier Alice's adored father Prince Albert had died of typhoid on December 14, and ever since the anniversary of his death had been marked with prayers and solemnities by his ever-grieving widow and their children. December 14 was feared as a fateful day, and though Alice herself was unaware of the date, or of much else, she did rave in her delirium that she saw her dead father, along with May and Frittie, standing together in heaven welcoming her in.

Prince Albert on his Deathbed
"A little after midnight, early on the morning of the fourteenth...her attendants heard her whisper 'May....dear Papa' before becoming unconscious. By sunrise she was dead.

"A letter arrived from Windsor Castle. 'Poor Dear Children,' Queen Victoria wrote,' you have had the most terrible blow which can befall children--you have lost your precious, dear, devoted Mother who loved you--and devoted her life to you and your dear Papa. That horrid disease which carried off sweet little May and from which you and the others recovered has taken her away from you and poor old Grandmama, who with your other kind Grandmama will try to be a mother to you...God's will be done,' she concluded. 'May He support and help you all. From your devoted and most unhappy Grandmama, VRI [Victoria Regina Imperatrix, Victoria Queen Empress].'"

I realize this is a fairly morbid scene to leave you to digest this week, which inspires me to cheer you up with some beautiful Victorian eye candy. Nothing like a little bling to lift your spirit and put a smile on your face.

Victorian Era Bar Pin
Victorian Era Jelly Opal Locket
Victorian Era Coin Purse

*Just to set the record completely straight from my last post. It is Bertie who married Queen Alexandra of Denmark, our next Queen (of the Edwardian Era of jewelry). His full name is King Albert Edward, named after his father. His family called him Bertie, and his people called him King Edward VII. As I mentioned in my last post, studying the history of England is difficult at best.

I thought Alicky was in line to marry King Edward VII, who is in fact her uncle, but I was so entirely wrong. The Eddy that Victoria hoped to match her up with was her cousin, the son of King Edward VII & Alexandra. The book even states this plainly on page 12, "And Alicky would make the ideal bride for Bertie's oldest son Eddy, who would one day be King of England." The learning curve is indeed steep in this business I've undertaken.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I scanned the library shelves last week hoping to find a biography on our new queen, Alexandra. Excitement filled me when I saw the title "Alexandra: The Last Tsarina." I've lightly researched our new queen and was certain she was of foreign origin. Te ensure I was choosing the "right" book, I took a peek inside. Seeing Queen Victoria's name on the first couple of pages, I knew I found a treasure.

Anticipation and excitement feel wonderful, and expectation seems to breed them both in spades. I enjoy doing things that make me feel good, so I often form expectations. In great anticipation, I brought the book home and started reading it immediately.

Princess Alice & Family (1871)
My heart thrilled as the story of Princess Alice, Queen Victoria's daughter, began to unfold on the pages. Right away this clamoring voice perked up. "How exactly does Alice rate as the primary figure to begin a story about her sister-in-law?" Immediately riveted to this aching account of a woman who seemed the mirror image of her mother, I resisted the voice in my mind that continued to insist that I was not going to find what I expected to find.

Several chapters in, the clamoring grew louder. "I don't think I'm reading about the right Alexandra." The trouble with studying England's history is that so many of the prominent figures share the same name. Though they all had nicknames to alleviate confusion, I'm certainly not privy to them when I begin my research.

It was clear right away that the Alexandra I was reading about was Queen Victoria's great-granddaughter, nicknamed Alicky. Her mother Alice died, and Queen Victoria quickly made decisive marriage matches for Alicky and her oldest sister Ella. This one line kept me believing that perhaps this could still be the "right" Alexandra:

"And Alicky would make the ideal bride for Bertie's oldest son Eddy, who would one day be King of England."

A new quieter voice joined the clamoring one, questioning whether I had perhaps misunderstood my earlier conclusions that Queen Alexandra was a foreigner. Believing that perhaps I somehow missed this vital family connection, I kept reading in hopes of arriving at a definitive answer to my nagging question. Did Alicky play a legitimate role in my romance with the Royals and their jewelry?

Nicky & Alicky
The more I read, the louder the clamoring became. Not far into the story, a love affair began to form between Alicky and the Russian tsar apparent, Nicky Romanov. The plot was thickening.

In equal measure my expectation and the clamoring voice grew in pitch. Expectation shouted: This is going to be a grand story of love thwarted by our ever-controlling Queen. The other voice insisted: You are "wrong" about something.

Victoria with the Hesse Grandchildren
At this point I couldn't help myself and skimmed farther ahead in the book. Queen Victoria, having set her mind upon Alicky marrying Eddy, was a force to be reckoned with. It was no small thing to go against her wishes.

Is it possible that Alicky's dad (Duke Louis VI) agreed to the match? Or did he dare to go against his mother-in-law's wishes?  had already read that he allowed Ella to marry her true love interest against the queen's wishes. Would he do so again, despite the fact that his daughter was in line to marry the future king of England? It still seemed possible that this Alexandra was indeed the "right" one.

I skipped ahead further out of great desperation to put that clamoring voice to rest once and for all. And it became clear that the future King Edward did indeed marry a different Alexandra. At this juncture, my expectations met head-to-head with disappointment. All that time I was researching the wrong girl! And I had a post due and nothing to write about!

Yet here I am writing a post!

Swiftly taking my attitude by the horns, I determined that disappointment would not remain an ally. This IS a fantastic story worthy of sharing with you. Indeed, Alicky's early years are filled with tremendous insights into the effect Queen Victoria had on her progeny.

Despite the fact that every neuron in my brain is screaming at me to allow Victoria and her era to slip silently into the annals of my blog history, I understood that this treasure fell in my lap for a purpose. Indeed, I have at my fingertips the evidence for every claim I've made in previous posts that what we do, what we think, and what we allow to nestle into our souls affects the generations after us.

I did not find what I hoped to find, but what I did "stumble" upon may indeed be far more exciting than a biography about the "right" Alexandra. We will get to her in time. I promised you an exciting journey, and I wouldn't dare rob you of the glories of exploring the rabbit trails my research often leads me down.

So I beg your indulgence in the next few weeks as I continue this exploration of Queen Victoria's impact on her children, her grandchildren, her nation, and ultimately on you and me. I promise that you will not be disappointed, so long as you choose not to be.