As her daughter received the news of her accession, Victoria sat outside the door. The new Queen’s first act was to ask for an hour alone and for her bed to be moved from her mother’s room. Victoria would spend the day trying to get close to her daughter, but she was ignored. John Conroy felt completely beaten. It wasn’t until the end of the day that the Queen came down to say goodnight to her mother. During those first days, Victoria continually tried to see her daughter but was told she would need to apply for permission – only to be told that the Queen was busy. The Queen also ignored John Conroy much to Victoria’s dismay, and she angrily wrote, “In marking Sir John as You have done, he is branded in the eyes of the world.” When she saw her daughter in her regalia for the first time, she wrote, “I shall never forget my feelings when I saw her sit on the Throne! That young girl 18 years old being the sole sovereign of this great country.” During her daughter’s coronation, Victoria was in tears.
When her daughter initially grew dependent on Lord Melbourne, her first Prime Minister, Victoria was angry, and she wrote, “Take care that Lord Melbourne is not King.” He had usurped the position that Victoria had wished for John Conroy. In August 1838, Victoria celebrated her 52nd birthday, and she felt absolutely humiliated. She wrote, “My birthday is come and gone, and things are much changed.” Her daughter had let her move in with her at Buckingham Palace but several apartments away from her. The constant rejection led to Victoria writing to her daughter that she should show more respect. “For this reason, it hurts me more for your sake than for my own, when you are not always quite attentive to me. You see dear love when you do not look after me, and if you do not stop for me, I am obliged to go with your ladies, which is not my place, as I am your mother.” She demanded to be given the rank and precedence of Queen Mother, which her daughter refused to give her. She then gave her daughter a copy of King Lear for her next birthday.
Victoria did not give up trying to push John Conroy on her daughter and was making her own position worse for it. Her daughter wrote to her, “I thought you would not expect me to invite Sir John Conroy after his conduct towards me for some years past, and still more so after the unaccountable manner in which he behaved to me, a short while after I came to the Throne.” Victoria also demanded that her debts be paid and besieged her daughter with angry letters and demands. Their relationship had definitely hit rock bottom. It soon became clear that Sir John Conroy had been quite dishonest and sums were missing, and Lord Melbourne called her “the most foolish woman he had ever met.”
Then came the scandal surrounding Lady Flora Hastings – a lady-in-waiting to Victoria. In early 1839, Lady Flora suffered from a distended stomach and nausea, and the Queen jumped to the conclusion that Lady Flora must be pregnant and with Sir John’s child too. She was eventually forced to undergo a humiliating examination which concluded that she was a virgin. Victoria was outraged at the cruelty against a lady of her household and used the scandal to her full advantage. Lady Flora died on 5 July 1839. The autopsy report showed that Lady Flora had a grossly enlarged liver which was pressing on her stomach.
When her daughter became engaged to Prince Albert in 1839, Victoria was told one month after the fact. The Queen wrote, “she took me in her arms and cried, and said, though I had not asked her, still that she gave her blessing to it, and seemed delighted.” However, she was determined not to let it change her position. Victoria demanded to live with the couple after they married and tried emotional blackmail on her daughter. It was no use – she would have to leave. Throughout the wedding, Victoria appeared to be disconsolate and distressed. As her daughter left the chapel, she kissed the hand of Queen Adelaide but only extended her hand to her mother. A new house was found for Victoria at Belgrave Square.1
Read part four here.