It was an extraordinary relationship between Queen and Prime Minister — this intimacy between the dowdy, unsmiling Widow of Windsor and the flamboyant, honey-tongued politician whom, in earlier days, Victoria had condemned as 'unprincipled, reckless and not respectable'.
By the 1870s this seemingly incompatible couple were hand in glove. But they were not so very different. Both needed the intimate support of someone of the opposite sex, and both were lost when their beloved spouses died. Brought close to the Queen by his part in the government of the country and by their mutual sympathy, Disraeli instinctively discerned the streak of romance that lay hidden behind Victoria's stern exterior and coaxed it into response. Never had Victoria been treated with such gracious homage and she was completely won over.
Together they built up an idyllic partnership based on Spenser's idealized age of gallantry, with Victoria as Disraeli's 'Faery Queen'. It was, however, more than just an extravaganza. It brought happiness and fulfilment to both. Benjamin Disraeli, that upstart, became famous both as a colourful public figure and as the man who 'made' and virtually ruled the Empire. Victoria basked in her position as a universally revered monarch, adored and guided by her knight errant. She was transformed. The inconsolable widow who shunned all company, all public functions, became under Disraeli's hand the almost mythical, the stately and awe-inspiring Queen Empress who is remembered today.
This latest book by Theo Aronson in his series about the European royal houses of the nineteenth century is a new departure. Here the author deals not with relationships confined within royal circles, but with that rarer phenomenon — the relationship between a queen and a commoner, whose story, moreover, is as bizarre and romantic as that of many a novel.
Theo Aronson is the author of over twenty works of royal historical biography, published in eleven languages. Among the widely read are Grandmama of Europe, The King in Love, Napoleon and Josephine and a biography of Princess Margaret. In the course of researching and writing these books he has interviewed major and minor members of Britain's royal family and members of the royal households, as well as various officials, servants, friends and others whose lives are in some way connected with the monarchy.
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