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.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds most intriguing! Looking forward to the next blog.