‘Your first duty is to God; your second to your Sovereign; your third to yourself’.
During the sixty-odd years of her reign Queen Victoria gathered around her a household dedicated to her service. For some, royal service was the defining experience of their lives, for others it came as an unwelcome duty, or a prelude to greater things. Serving Victoria follows the lives of six members of her household from the governess to the royal children, to her maid-of-honour, chaplain and personal physician.
Drawing on their letters and diaries – many hitherto unpublished – Serving Victoria offers a unique insight into the Victorian court, with all its frustrations and absurdities, as well as the Queen herself, sitting squarely at its centre. Seen through the eyes of her household as she traveled between Windsor, Osborne and Balmoral, and to the French and Belgian courts, Victoria emerges as more vulnerable, more emotional, more selfish, more comical than is generally supposed. We see a woman who was prone to fits of giggles, who wept easily and often, who gobbled her food and shrank from confrontation but insisted on controlling the lives of those around her. We witness her extraordinary and debilitating grief at the death of Albert, and her sympathy towards the tragedies that afflicted her household.
Witty, astute and moving, Serving Victoria is a perfect foil to the pomp and circumstance – and prudery and conservatism – associated with Victoria’s reign, and gives an unforgettable glimpse of what it meant to serve the Queen.
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Kate Hubbard's entertaining book…is a fine examination of both the bizarre and the banal in the domestic machinery of Victoria's court - Observer
Hubbard would have made a good courtier: her prose is polite, her insight into the tangled relationships of the household impressive. Her achievement is to enter a sealed world, ruled by repetition, and make it compelling (5 stars) - Telegraph
Hubbard can be delightfully waspish about life at court, and has produced from the most unpromising of raw material a book that is both eye-opening and thoroughly engaging - Sunday Times
Entertaining account of the royal household…the change of perspective brought about by taking such figures out of the background and into the spotlight is revelatory - Country Life
Entertaining portrait of Queen Victoria...having plundered a rich vein of fascinating and often new information, Hubbard shows that serving Victoria was no doddle - Daily Mail
Hubbard's new research throws fresh light on the domestic dramas of Victoria’s court over 60 years - Independent
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About the Author
After leaving Oxford University Kate Hubbard worked variously as a researcher, a teacher, a book reviewer and a publisher's reader. She currently works as a freelance editor. Her first book, A Material Girl: Bess of Hardwick 1527-1608, was published in 2001, followed by two children's books - biographies of Charlotte Bronte and Queen Victoria. Her most recent book, Rubies in the Snow, is the fictionalised diary of Anastasia Romanov, youngest daughter of Russia's last Tsar. Kate divides her time between London and Dorset.