Wednesday, December 14, 2011

queen victoria was actually... sexy?

Queen Victoria's private "affairs" can't get a break from public scrutiny, can they?

First her "unmentionables" were displayed for all the world to see at an auction last month.  Now this royal personage who gave her name to an era known for its modesty (i.e. prudishness) of dress and rigidity of ideas on proper social decorum is revealed to be a rather sexy little vixen of her time- at least behind closed doors.

Exhibit A:

image source: The Daily Mail

According to this article in The Daily Mail, this image of a sensual young Queen Victoria, at age 24, was given to her husband Prince Albert as a surprise birthday gift in 1843.  Painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, the picture was considered to be so racy that Albert kept it in his writing room in Windsor Castle and did not let anyone else look at it.

In fact, its existence was not even publicly known until 1977.

I must say, while I have never considered Victoria to have been a beauty, this is certainly a very flattering portrait of her.  Despite the book that I am currently reading on the Victorian Era saying that ball gowns of the time period were quite often that low, it was probably not considered even remotely acceptable for a female monarch to show that much skin.

This portrait and other British royal artifacts spanning hundreds of years of English history will be discussed in detail in eight half hour radio programs on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.


  1. Wow, I had not heard of either of these two recent discoveries.
    As to her dress in the portrait being risquee, actually very wide, low necklines such as that were quite popular for evening gowns at that time. See:
    I would be surprised if it would have been at all controversial for Queen Victoria to arrive at a party in such a dress (she probably just wouldn't make sexy eyes at everyone like in the portrait).

  2. @ Sabayon- Good point about the dresses. Liza Picard says that a lot of people complained that ballgowns of the time left little to the male imagination concerning the bosoms. She probably wouldn't have her hair let down in such a sensual way either.

  3. Ha, this is hilarious. I would never have thought that such a picture existed. It exemplifies one of the charms of the Victorian Era: a proper and decorous exterior conceals a far more sensual interior. I think it was the attentive detail to the texture of the hair that pushed this picture over the edge of risque. Brilliant though! Thanks for sharing!