Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Magnificent Obsession Helen Rappaport Book Review



"Who reverenced his conscience as his king;
Whose glory was, redressing human wrongs;
Who spake no slander, no, nor listen'd to it;
Who lov'd one only and who clave to her...
Dear to thy land and ours, a Prince indeed,
Beyond all titles, and a household name,"

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Is it possible to live one lifetime and be in love with just one person? 

The Victorian Age was one of the glorious and successful periods in British History and it might not have happened if Prince Albert, The Queen Consort, did not die of illness in 1861. 

Queen Victoria's reign could be divided into 2 eras, During-Albert and Post-Albert. While Prince Albert was alive, he served as the Queen's unofficial Private Secretary, Mentor and Adviser. He did more Royal duties whenever Queen Victoria was with child. And she was pregnant 9 times during their 21 years of Marriage.

It could be summed up that Victoria's Magnificent Obsession was not Prince Albert but her idealization of him. 

She created a mythical memory of a Prince Consort that separated his reality and that by the second half of her reign, most folks have already forgotten him.

Victoria's real obsession was her commemoration of death, memorials and grief. She became fascinated with the ritual of sympathy and empathy that went along with death. It became one of her official duties to write condolence letters to the loved ones of those who departed. Her Royal Court followed strict Mourning Periods whenever someone close o the Queen dies.

Her life was marked by various personal loss and tragedies. This might have been a consequence of living a long and full life. She lost 3 children in her lifetime, various grandchildren, her mother, her favorite Uncle Leopold, her devoted governess, John Brown and of course, Prince Albert.

But Prince Albert's death became the catalyst for the creation of the real majestic and imperial Queen Victoria. 

The Queen who in spite of her grief, inspired loyalty in her subjects. She was the queen who brought the Monarchy closer to the people through her published books and carte de visite photos. The Queen who was known as "The Grandmother of Europe". 

Victoria would always be the Queen that resonated through time and history. 

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