Queen Victoria – Foreword


The Winter in Nice. Queen Victoria loved the flower festival where she could throw flowers at the handsome young army officers in their colourful uniforms. The Queen went to many festivals, including the festival of the gourds, where she bought the prettily decorated fruit. Poster by Alexis Mossa around 1890.


Asa Briggs

I was glad to be asked to write a foreword to this delightful book, which speaks entirely for itself. Both as a historian of Victorian Britain and as President of the Victorian Society I am interested in any study of the Queen which pushes from Britain across the Channel – or across the Atlantic or to India. The Queen has to be placed in more than a British setting.

I know too that it is the detail in Victorian Britain and in the Queen’s own long life, discovered only through research, which is more revealing and significant than generalisations. Far too many of these are made on the basis of secondarv evidence.

The Oueen’s attitudes towards Germany, which were inextricably bound up with her loving relationship with Albert, the Prince Consort, have often been studied both by biographers and by historians. Her attitudes towards France have now been skilfully and sensitively disentangled by Michael Nelson. She already knew Paris and north of France before she first travelled to the Riviera in 1882 with no Albert to guide her, and it was in the Riviera that she held important conversations with her last Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, between 1896 and 1899. Gladstone, who died in 1898, always preferred Biarritz. Atlantic versus Mediterranean is a major theme in travel history, and the Queen played her part in this. She publicised the Riviera.

Michael Nelson fully appreciates the subtle relationships between the private and the public even in the life of imperial sovereigns, and his highly readable book will interest different kinds of reader. For me it is rich in texture, as, I believe, it will be for them. We begin by accompanying the `Queen of Balmoral’ on a Channel crossing in a yacht called the Victoria and Albert before joining her in a special train across France; and we end in Nice, invigorated but not exhausted, ready to accompany her home after her last and longest visit. Appropriately she had left behind a bridge in Nice which she had opened. Bridges symbolise bringing together. Edward VII should not have the only credit for building them.

The Victorian Society

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Introduction     Foreword      Synthèse     Contents     Recommended      The Launch     Wine     Reviews     Contact      Follow the Footsteps of the Queen Victoria on the Riviera