The future Queen Victoria was just ten years old when she discovered that she would be Queen one day. The date was 11 March 1830 and Victoria was at her lessons – a sprig of holly had been pinned to the front of her dress to keep her back straight and her chin up.
Victoria had begun leafing through a copy of Howlett’s Tables of the Kings and Queens of England and stumbled upon a page with a map of the British royal family tree with a line leading to the throne. Her uncle King George IV was the current King, and next was his brother the future King William IV. After that came Victoria’s own name. Victoria began to cry and said, “I am nearer to the throne than I thought.” She must have had some inkling before though this was the official confirmation. Prince Albert later wrote that this discovery made Victoria “very unhappy” and she had “cried much on learning it & deplored this contingency.”
Baroness Lehzen, Victoria’s governess, would later boast a more romanticised account where Victoria solemnly said, “Now, many a child would boast, but they don’t know the difficulty. There is much splendour, but there is more responsibility.” After which she put her forefinger in the air and declared, “I will be good!”
Victoria’s mother The Duchess of Kent had been all too happy that Victoria had discovered her future in this way. She had recently been urged that she must inform her daughter so that she could be properly educated. Just three months after discovering her fate, King George IV died, and she was yet another step closer to the throne.1