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Episode 7: A Nightingale at Balmoral - Florence Nightingale 1856

Lucy Worsley explores Queen Victoria's reign through significant encounters. 21 September 1856: Miss Florence Nightingale accepts an invitation to Balmoral.

Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, continues her 10 part exploration of Queen Victoria's reign through significant encounters. 7: A Nightingale at Balmoral -Florence Nightingale- September 1856

Miss Florence Nightingale and her nurses had put the British Army to shame with their exposure, in Crimea, of the shockingly poor medical treatment given to the soldier. Florence became a celebrity, and Queen Victoria was a huge fan, admiring Miss Nightingale’s modesty and her apparently tender care for her men. In reality, Florence was an ambitious, tenacious and entirely un-Victorian woman, who had the trick of maintaining the self-effacing manner that powerful men would respect. In 1856 Florence accepted an invitation to Balmoral, not because she admired the Queen, but because she wanted to argue the case for medical reform. At Balmoral, the cool veteran of Crimea found Victoria shallow: 'the least self-reliant person’ she’d ever known. Florence also though that queen, pregnant for the ninth time, was too fond of dancing at the whiskey-fuelled Balmoral balls. During their time together in the pseudo-Scottish fantasy land of Balmoral, no one had a very good time, and each of the two very different women failed to understand each other.
With the historian Mark Bostridge

Readers: Susan Jameson,Sarah Ovens

Producer: Mark Burman

Available now

14 minutes