The Secret Life of Queen Victoria You Didn’t Know

Here’s a look into some of the lesser-known facts, traits, and habits of the famously private monarch Queen Victoria.

Apr 2, 2024By Katie Victoria Brown, BA Comparative Literature and Journalism

queen victoria secret life


The famously private and austere monarch kept a diary throughout most of her life. Her first ever diary was given to her by her mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld when she was only thirteen. Its first line read: This book, Mamma gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it. She would continue to document her extraordinary life until her death in 1901. Many of these pages contain secrets to her private life and clues about her eccentric personality that were often completely hidden from the public.


Queen Victoria’s Secret Sensuality 

queen victoria diary
An Excerpt from Queen Victoria’s Diary. Source: Royal Collection Trust, London


Despite upholding the Victorian stereotype of being extremely grumpy, reserved, and ill-tempered, Queen Victoria’s diaries show her good humor, her intelligence, and her complexity. But mostly, the diaries show just how in love she was with her husband Albert. Even after many rounds of editing from her daughter and various Priests close to the Queen, her sensuality and sexual nature can be clearly perceived in her writing. On the evening of their wedding, Victoria wrote: We both went to bed; to lie by his side and in his arms, and on his dear bosom, and be called by names of tenderness, I have never heard used to me before — was bliss beyond belief! Oh!


While the Victorian Era is not known for being particularly expressive about sex, it is clear that Victoria and Albert enjoyed a sexually fulfilling relationship, parenting nine children. Victoria is famous for being a reluctant mother and for not caring too much for babies, however, the couple never once stopped procreating. After the birth of her ninth child, the Royal Doctor reportedly warned Victoria to stop having children to which the monarch allegedly replied, What? No more fun in bed?


royal family 1846
Portrait of the royal family in 1846, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. From left: Prince Alfred (boys commonly wore dresses in toddlerhood), Prince Albert Edward, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Princess Alice, Princess Helena, and Princess Victoria. Source: Royal Collection Trust


Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter

The tenderness that she expressed when she spoke about Albert remained hidden within her diaries and between the couple until after her death. She described him as having beautiful blue eyes, an exquisite nose, and a pretty mouth with delicate mustachios and slight but very slight whiskers. She also wrote about his beautiful figure, broad shoulders, and his fine waist. Her admiration of Albert’s physicality continues to be seen throughout volumes of her diaries. She once wrote: My dear Albert came in today from the rain; he looked so handsome in his white cashmere britches, with nothing on underneath.


Albert and Victoria supposedly had a button that could lock their door directly from their bed installed in their bedroom at Buckingham Palace. They also gave each other rather risque gifts, including an erotic painting from artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter which depicts a group of bare-breasted women preparing to bathe. Albert, at one point, decided the perfect present for his Queen was to commission a marble statue of himself portrayed as a sensual Greek warrior. Later on, Victoria thought that it was too sexual and moved it to a private residence.


When Albert died, Victoria was just forty-two years old and while it was normal for wives to enter into public mourning for a year, Victoria remained dressed in mourning black for the rest of her life. In the first four years after his death, she resigned from public duties and was not seen in public or leaving Buckingham Palace at all. Her dedication to mourning the loss of her life partner started the trend for mourning periods and clothing as we know it now.


The Erasure of Abdul 

queen victoria abdul kareem
Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim in Buckingham Palace. Source: The New York Times


Perhaps the most scandalous and controversial aspect of Queen Victoria’s private life was her relationship with Indian attendant Abdul Karim. Abdul had been sent over to England ahead of the Coronation of Victoria after the monarch had voiced her interest in learning about the Indian Territories. He was chosen to hand a gift to Victoria during proceedings, where the two apparently connected and formed a bond that would last for over a decade until her death in 1901. At Victoria’s summer home on the Isle of Wight, shortly after the Golden Jubilee, Karim impressed the monarch by making her chicken curry with dal and pilau.  She wrote about her fondness of Abdul.


The scandal that their relationship caused is not publicly known and can most accurately be felt when we look at how seriously the monarch’s family took the task of erasing all knowledge of him from the history books. Victoria’s daughter Beatrice was in charge of editing and censoring the extended diaries of Queen Victoria and removed any mention of Abdul’s name. There are just a few clues left in her writing that allude to Abdul’s presence in Buckingham Palace and his close proximity to the Queen. For example, Victoria wrote about learning a few words of Hindustani in her diaries. Every letter the pair exchanged was burned, alongside all the papers from their language lessons together.


abdul karim photo
Abdul Karim in a Royal robe with medals and a knife, 1894. Source: British Library, London


Abdul was deported back to India and evicted from the properties that Victoria purchased for him. Art historian Carolly Erickson said in her book on Queen Victoria titled Her Little Majesty: For a dark-skinned Indian to be put very nearly on a level with the queen’s white servants was all but intolerable, for him to eat at the same table with them, to share in their daily lives was viewed as an outrage.


Beyond the interracial aspect of the relationship that offended the members of the Royal House, the jealousy that surrounded the pair was no doubt due in part to the lavish favorability Abdul enjoyed. He was allowed to carry swords and he was given many medals by the Monarch. His wife and family were flown over and given homes in each of the Queens Estates. There was also the land bought for them back in their native India.


Victoria’s assistant private secretary Fritz Ponsonby quoted her as having said to the Royal House that there was racial prejudice and jealousy of the poor Munshi. Over one hundred years passed after her death until an eagle-eyed art historian noticed some discrepancies and clues in paintings and gifts left by the Monarch. A full investigation ensued and the incredible story of Victoria and Abdul was unearthed, a testament to the extremely modern temperament of Queen Victoria.


Queen Victoria’s Famous Wedding Dress 

queen victoria wedding
The wedding dress of Queen Victoria. Source: Town and Country Magazine


The famously grouchy Monarch’s first request upon becoming Queen just months after her eighteenth birthday was to be left totally alone for one hour. There are many accounts of her dry humor and propensity for laughing, however, there are equal accounts of her haughtiness and rigidity. It is not surprising that one such as herself, born and raised to be Queen, should have a more balanced character given her upbringing in The Kensington Manner of intense routine, protocol, and endless education.


princess victoria wedding
Queen Victoria and Albert at the Wedding of Princess Victoria wearing white. Source: Wikipedia


A great example of this is the wedding dress of Queen Victoria. While it is normal for us to see brides in white, Queen Victoria was the first woman to popularize this trend. The first mention of white in her diaries comes in her explanation of the wedding day proceedings. She wrote about wearing a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, a Turkish diamond necklace and earrings, and Albert’s sapphire branch. Many of these customs from the brooch to the gifts, to the orange blossom head wreath, were initiated on this day so that the public could imitate Queen Victoria and her tasteful ceremony. Guests were instructed not to wear white so as not to distract anyone from her dress, thus starting the trend for white bridal dresses and non-white wedding guest attire.


princess victoria watercolour
Watercolor by Queen Victoria after the wedding of her daughter Princess Victoria, 1858. Source: Royal Collection Trust, London


The unusual change of the bridal dress into the evening dress is also documented in the intimate diaries of the Queen. Victoria wrote about putting on a white silk gown, trimmed with swan’s down, and a bonnet with orange flowers. Albert also changed his clothes. The day would mark the beginning of a flurry of new wedding trends that persist to this day.


queen victoria smiling
Queen Victoria Smiling in Portrait, 1886. Source: Royal Collection Trust, London


All lace cuts and templates for both dresses and both veils used in the wedding wardrobe were destroyed upon request of the Queen so that no one could ever replicate the exact details of her dress, making it a one-in-a-million wedding dress. The trend for white was solidified when Victoria and Albert’s daughter Victoria got married in a similar gown when she was seventeen years old. Queen Victoria was well renowned for her watercolors and those of her daughter’s wedding are some of her most touching ones.

Author Image

By Katie Victoria BrownBA Comparative Literature and JournalismKatie is a freelance writer and editor working and living in Paris with a BA in Comparative Literature and Journalism from Roehampton University, London. She is passionate about feminist literature and specializes in gender studies, sociology and race relations. Aside from her writing, Katie is also a professional equestrienne and stunt rider, working on movies and TV shows around the world.