Of Hype and Type

The Media Making of Queen Victoria 1837–1845

in Critical Survey
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Princess Victoria acceded to the British throne on 20 June 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday and the attainment of her legal majority. Circumstances contrived to maximise the promise of the new reign. With the end of the seven-year rule of William IV and with the reactionary Duke of Cumberland succeeding to the throne of Hanover – Victoria being debarred by Salic law – her accession ended the long and uninspiring affiliation with the throne by the sons of George III. Young, female, attractive, politically innocent yet with decidedly Whiggish sympathies, the new Queen seemed far removed from the excesses of her aged Hanoverian uncles. Laetitia Landon described it as the advent of a ‘spring-like reign’. Scores of poems, prints and street ballads were produced, all effusively idealising Victoria. The popular magazine Figaro in London claimed that John Bull was so pleased at the idea of being governed by a girl, he would cut off his ears if her little Majesty required them. Victoria basked in the tangible freshness of a revivified royal populism.