Alexandrina Victoria lived in Kensington Palace under a very
strict set of rules called the Kensington System. These rules were designed by
her mother, Duchess of Kent, and by her mother’s attendant Sir John Conroy. They were designed
so that Victoria would become weak and dependant. It was this way that Sir John
Conroy hoped to gain control over the princess and power for himself.
Victoria always had to be with someone and never alone, she
was isolated from other children, her every action was recorded, and her mother
and Conroy entirely controlled who she met.
During the day Victoria studied Languages, writing, music, history, drawing,
arithmetic, geography and religion. She loved her pets, and loved to play with
her 132 dolls which were each exquisitely dressed and each had names.
Her governess, Louise (and later—baroness ) Lehzen, was very
dear to her. Lehzen monitored Victoria using “behavior books” which Victoria
herself had to record her attitude in each day.
When Victoria was 13 she became a dedicated journal writer
and continued to keep a diary for the rest of her life. She liked to write
compositions and stories that showed her own character and interests. She was a very good water-colorist, another
hobby she continued when she was an adult.
She loved to go the theater and musical concerts, and said it
was one of her greatest joys. Sometimes after a performance she would paint
what she had seen on stage.
Finally on May 24, 1837, almost one month before her
uncle the king died, Victoria turned 18.
Since now she was
considered mature enough to rule on her own, her mother and Sir John Conroy
would no longer
have the chance to create a regency in which they would
largely rule for the queen until she was older. On June 20, 1837, king William IV died, and of
that day Victoria wrote in her diary following:
“I was awoke at 6 o’clock by
Mamma, who told me the
Archbishop of Canterbury
Conyngham were here and
wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my
dressing gown) and alone, and
saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was
no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently
that I am Queen.”