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8: An Encounter with Death, 13 December 1861

Lucy Worsley explores Queen Victoria's reign through significant encounters. 13 December 1861: Victoria makes a hopeful journal entry the day before the worst day of her life.

Lucy Worsley, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, continues her exploration of Queen Victoria's reign through significant encounters. 8: An Encounter With Death-13th December 1861.

'A time of awful anxiety, but still all full of hope. It was a crisis, a struggle of strength.’ So wrote Victoria in her journal for 13 December 1861, thankful that her husband Albert had passed through the worst of his mysterious illness (today it seems possible it was Crohn's Disease). But there is no entry for 14 December, which turned out to be the worst day of her life because Albert relapsed and died. Victoria, perhaps the most powerful woman in the world, could not stop her husband from slipping away from her. As everyone noticed, he hadn’t really wanted to live. Using the account book of the royal pharmacist, this episode examines what was wrong with Albert, explores Victoria’s grief, and begins to probe how eventually she would get her confidence back and manage without him.

With the historian Helen Rappaport

Readers: Susan Jameson, Sarah Ovens
Producer: Mark Burman

Available now

14 minutes