I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mona's Musings

June 3rd, 2010

Fit For A Queen

“I was awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma …who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) 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…” –Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901

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Walking through Westminster Abbey in Central London is something like shouldering your way through a very crowded, very solemn assembly of famous people; their names whispered in stone, rising from floors to ricochet off cathedral ceilings. On our fourth day in Europe, Dale stood and cried at the foot of Handel’s grave while I sat in a stupor beside Austen, Bronte’, Dickens, and Shakespeare. Together, we gazed up at fallen soldiers and then bent over scientists and statesmen. Weaving our way through this host of monumental human beings inspired and trivialized us. Where do we fit in? Of what value are we to our fellow man?

Shakespeare wrote: “…some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” I think perhaps the truly “great” come to it through a fateful combination of all three.  Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, for instance, was ‘born’ in line and ‘thrust’ into place at only eighteen. However, her ‘accomplished’ greatness came after she married–and subsequently made a real partner of–a man whose name became synonymous with hers: Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel or, as officially titled, Prince Albert. Their reign and romance are considered a zenith in Great Britain history and their love affair makes becoming a queen seem a doable, if not an envious objective, if a man such as Albert can be your partner.

Victoria died nearly forty years after her beloved. She was England’s longest reining royal and the most commemorated, and among the most prolific: her posterity serve in monarchies from one corner of Europe to another: yet all she asked for was to be buried beside Albert, dressed in white, wearing her wedding veil instead of her crown.

Their story has haunted me ever since I arrived here. I sense Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in England’s most elegant places–tangible and imagined; exemplifying this sweet truth: that the essence of a virtuous romance can be felt everywhere and for eons to come; that its beauty and solidarity will affect all who come to know it, as well as all who descend from it; and that the world needs, even craves, mature, splendid marriages–for authentic lovers give the rest of us courage to live through, and up to, our promises.

Holding Dale’s hand as we exited the Abbey, I began to muse how he and I will never be important anybody-s in this life, not by these standards. No ornate crypts or elaborate epitaphs for us. And yet, if a woman can adore her husband with all of her heart, and inspire him in turn, to adore her with all of his (and visa-versa); if together they can nurture that devotion through grand and grievous days until they are lain down with age; is that not one of life’s greatest attainments?

 

The Young Victoria (2009)
View the trailer

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Visit Mona’s Musings on Facebook for pictures from our visit to Kensington Gardens and Castle as well as daily reports and hints of romance! (Kensington is where Victoria was born and raised until her ascension to the throne and where she built a magnificent monument to her Albert.)

 

 

Hint of Romance

Since ‘good intentions are never good enough’, make educating yourself in the art of marriage a predominant focus in your life– regardless of what “stage” you may be in. EVERYTHING ELSE (and everybody else) WILL BE BETTER FOR IT.

What did you think of this musing?

Join the discussion!

Discussion

  1. Rebekah says:

    I LOVED THAT MOVIE!!!

    • mona says:

      Rebekah: I’m sure you did! It’s right up your alley.

      Marsha: I love the way you’ve put it….serving makes for greatness….most importantly, the one whom we’ve pledged to serve.

      Heidi: We DID of course see Wilberforce — and Pitt and Fox!

      DeNae: Good point. I too was disappointed to learn of Victoria’s long mourning — but I can’t know her heart…it must have been devastating to lose the only person in the entire world who understood her and braced her to stand up to such impossible standards and expectations. I wonder if she felt like she just could not do it without him? I do know that she eventually went out in public again and was beloved by the people and of course, is remembered for the amazing progress made by her kingdom during that time.

      Debbi: Cheerio! (My favorite expression so far: “well then, you’re in the clover!”

      Sarah: I like your word: “majesty”….exactly.

  2. Marsha says:

    Your concept of a standard of greatness marked by each partner nurturing the other is an empowering one! One that will bring joy to all our journeys! We miss you.

  3. Heidi says:

    I absolutely love “The Young Victoria” film! I saw it in January and felt it exemplified so much of what a marriage should be. I get the sense from your blogs that you and Dale have just such a wonderful marriage, too. They are inspiring, calming, uplifting, and hopeful examples for me.

    Westminster Abbey. Oh my. How wonderful that must have been. I, too, would have been in awe there. I think I would also add a little visit to William Wilberforce there.

  4. Debbi says:

    I say! Jolly good snaps! First rate, by George! They’ll have your blood running blue in short order, I wager! Vicky and Bert haven’t got a thing on the two of you!

    Thank you for making it come alive for your followers.

    Warmest regards,
    Debbi

  5. DeNae says:

    I agree with your expression of the greatness of deep love and partnernship. I enjoy it with my own husband. But I wonder what Albert might have said about Victoria’s having essentially spent 40 years in mourning over him. Wouldn’t the strength and empowerment of that great love story have been so much better honored by a life more fully and abundantly lived? Victoria presided over and witnessed some of the greatest times in modern history. I truly hope she was able to value and celebrate them. I know my own ‘Prince Charming’ would want that for – and from – me.

  6. Sarah says:

    I love how majestic marriage looks, especially when reminded with that picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. There’s something very majestic about you and Dale.

    I don’t know if there is any greater attainment than to nurture and devote oneself to their marriage. Is not this happiness?! May we all live for it.

  7. amber says:

    Love this. Such beauty, and so much to think about. Greatness; I often want to aspire. I love your insights. :)

    • mona says:

      Amber: I use words the way you take pictures I guess — because YOU make ME think!

      Olivia: Yes, I can see you at Westminster — YOU would love it! Especially the musicians.

      Bob: You understand!

      SaraLyn: What’s the title of the book?! Both Hannah and I would LOVE to read it. I have NO DOUBT that it was your “preperation” time that has contributed to your current happiness. You are meeting each other’s needs nearly perfectly at this stage — the trick is keeping that up as life and children “crowd” the you-and-me focus. Keep making deposits in each other’s love banks!!!

  8. I am so in love with Cemeteries. They are my most favorite places on this earth. I just can’t imagine anything greater than standing at the feet of Master’s that have past and marveling at the contributions and the mark they made on our lives and the lives of others. Amazing…

  9. Bob says:

    After all the Messiah concerts Dale has conducted, I totally understand his emotional reaction while standing at Handel’s grave. I’m sure my reaction would have been the same.

  10. Sara Lyn says:

    Call me young and naive, but I think I would mourn like Victoria if my beloved husband left me 40 years before I went. And she still did much after he died.

    I recently finished a book about William Wilburforce (so excited you saw his and Pitt’s and Fox’s tombs!) and it mentioned how Wilburforce as an old man met 18 month old Victoria. I liked how the book put it. Something to the affect of “the man who inspired the movement and the woman it was named after.” What an exciting day in history although it must have been a very quiet occasion. I think a lot of important moments in history are quiet.

    I like what you said about educating ourselves in marriage. I spent a lot of time before I got married studying and learning about marriage. I like to think that’s part of the reason my marriage has been relatively easy. (It helps that I have an angel of a husband, too.) :) We like to review marriage talks and books every once in awhile and check in to see how we’re doing. I really like how Morgan emphasizes everything I’m doing right. I try to do that for him, too.

  11. ButMadNNW says:

    Others have said all I would have about the romance. :-) So I feel free to put out a little English major/Anglophile pedantry. ;-)

    Shakespeare is not buried in Westminster. (I’m sure you were referring to his memorial and just didn’t specify that. :-) ) He remains buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, in part due to the curse contained within his epitaph:

    Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
    To digg the dvst encloased heare.
    Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
    And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.

    [Good friend, for Jesus’s sake forebear
    To dig the dust enclosed here.
    Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
    And cursed be he that moves my bones.]

    Will was well aware of the custom of his time where a skeleton would be exhumed and its bones moved to the boneyard* to make way for a new body, and didn’t want it to happen to him. Even during a church renovation in 2008, the workers were careful not to disturb his grave.

    If you’re ever in Stratford, do stop by Trinity. It’s an adorably gorgeous church. And if you pop into the Dirty Duck for a pint or meal, you just might rub elbows with an RSC player. The pub is near the theatre and actors often stop in for a post-performance drink.

    *In the boneyard, bones were piled and burned. “Bone-fire” is the root of “bonfire”.

  12. Aunt Angel says:

    I love how you inspire us all to embrace romance and enjoy life together with passion.

    Please think of me when you visit the Victoria and Albert Museum (my favorite) When I am passing through Heathrow on my way to Africa I always take the tube there and enjoy a few hours of time-travel back to where the relics take me.

  13. Wendy Scarlett says:

    Mona
    I hope you get a chance to go to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and visit Prince Alberts Monument opposite.
    It is lovely ( yes we do use that word a lot here in the UK) to see our history through your experiences – keep Musing !!

    • mona says:

      ButMadNNW: You caught me! I just couldn’t figure out how to work “memorial” as opposed to “grave” into that sentence — but you caught my drift. I LOVE the “English major/Anglophile pedantry” and beg for more. Adding Stratford, Trinity, and the Dirty Duck to the must-see list (do you do personal tours???)

      Angel: Adding the V&A to the must-see list…we had actually meant to do that the day we visited Kensington Gardens, but it turned out to be the most perfect weather imaginable that day, and understanding the rarity of such a day in England, we just couldn’t make ourselves go inside. BUT – I hope to go the week after next. Why don’t you come and go with me?

      Wendy: Adding Royal Albert Hall to the must-do list. We actually DID see Royal Albert Hall AND the Prince Albert Monument when we went to Kensington (see the photos on Facebook) but I’m dying to go INSIDE the Hall. But can you tell me please, what “the Proms” are????

      Keep sending me hither and yon my new British friends!!! (Remember “Something’s Missing”? According to Dale, I’m hither and he’s yon.)

  14. Sue Simper says:

    All I know is I made my Evan promise he would not die before me (especially not 40 years before me.) I also told him no trips to the E.R., but he’s already broken that promise. I guess you just have to ’em like crazy every day (just in case!)

    Thanks for living an adventurous life abroad for those of us who consider Costco a long trip (or it just feels long with three little ones in tow!) We miss you!!

  15. ButMadNNW says:

    Mona: I would ADORE a chance to give you a personal tour. I enjoy showing people around the places that I love so dearly. Alas, I have no funds to cross the ocean to my heart’s Home this year. :-(

    I can, however, wholeheartedly recommend the Original London Walks (http://www.walks.com) if you’d like a knowledgeable guide to lead you around London. I’ve never had a bad walk with them, but some of the best include the Jack the Ripper walk, the Haunted London walk, the…aw, hell – they’re all grand! I still remember my very first Walk, way back in 1999; Tom the barrister was my guide around Westminster and the West End. Alan is quite the guide, too, with his Sherlock Holmes and Oscar Wilde costumes.

    And do take the tour if you stop by the Globe. Better yet… this time of year, they should be running plays. If you can bear to stand for three hours, get a Groundling ticket and get to the theatre early. Stake out a place at the edge of the stage and plant your elbows on its edge. It’s the ONLY way to watch Shakespeare. (They do also have seats, if you require one; just be careful you don’t wind up behind the stage, unable to see.)

    There was also a lovely tour some friends and I took around Stratford back in 2008 that included a stop at Trinity, but I can’t recall where we met up with the guide or the name of the company. Ask around.

    Oh, have I mentioned the Royal Pavilion down in Brighton? Pseudo-Eastern decadence at its finest to be seen at George IV’s pleasure palace.

    Sorry for the length of this comment. I just watched a film set in London and am feeling a bit Homesick, so am encouraging you to all the places I wish I could be.

    Enjoy. x

  16. Bri Z. says:

    I haven’t responded to this post because I’m not sure how. Grant and I cried through it when we read it together the first time and I cry every time I read it over again. We cry because we think of you and dad and my parents and the example of “virtuous romance” that has affected us as your posterity and will affect our children and their children and so on. We sniffle because of the immense love we feel for each other and the gratitude we have to be part of our families. You give us “courage to live through, and up to, our promises.” Love is life’s greatest attainment. Thank you for the reminder.

  17. Mother Smith says:

    I know I am way behind…in response to this post…but, I have wanted to see “Young Victoria” for sometime…Based on your post…I went and BOUGHT the movie…because, I just KNEW it would be worth the ownership…and my “gut” was right….I LOVED it!!! I loved the story…and it has inspired me…to desire to read more on Victoria and Albert…I LOVE HISTORY…and English history is much of my ancestor’s background…THANK YOU…for this post…It added much entertainment and enlightenment to my life…

  18. maritza ardila- perez says:

    Today, At the ” Royal Wedding” The Marriage of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey,29Th April 2011. Was Amazing!
    I love English History also and be a part of this great day today at the “Ceremony of the Royal family was Fascinate . Then I look on this page, I love the picture from you and Dale outside the Abbey at Westminster This a blessing I would like to share some words or prayed at the Royal Wedding. Quotes from the Pray” O almighty Lord, and everlasting God….” I think it was heaven wonderful joy for Principe William and Catherine, the history of this day will be for long time.I had a terrific experience and your notes, has inspire me to learn more Victoria and the others.thanks for sharing all your picture God bless you, look at my picture on face book, I recommend it. I love you great pictures. I love you Maritza !!!

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