Queen Victoria’s teenage diary reveals her first thoughts of ‘The Black Country’

Britain magazine
Windsor Castle

Visitors to Windsor Castle this summer can see extracts of a never-before-seen diary of the young Queen Victoria.

Britain magazine
Windsor Castle

A diary written by a young Queen Victoria when she was on an educational tour of the country with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, in 1832, is to go on display at Windsor Castle and reveals the teenager’s first thoughts of some of the places she would one day rule.

Young Victoria began her tour at Powis Castle, Wales, before heading to the Midlands. Each morning Victoria would note down her impressions of the places she visited, and so the diary offers unique insight into the life and times of the young princess.

After witnessing the coal-blackened faces of the people of the Midlands she wrote: “The men woemen [sic], children, country and houses are all black. But I can not by any description give an idea of its strange and extraordinary appearance. The country is very desolate every where; there are coals about, and the grass is quite blasted and black. I just now see an extraordinary building flaming with fire.”

Her descriptions prompted the adoption of the term ‘Black Country’ for this industrial area of Britain.

The tour was her first trip out of the capital and marked the beginning of her legacy of diary writing, which she maintained throughout her 63-year reign.

The diary will form part of an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Royal Archives this year. It will open on Saturday 17 May and run until January 2015.

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