Your RDA of Irony

Questionable Birth Announcements

On this day in 1819 Louisa, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, gave birth to her second son. The infant did not look remotely like her husband, a fact observed by the Duke. A new-born brunet–in a fair-haired family–raised some questions as to how close the Duchess had been with the court financier. (The child turned out to be highly intelligent–which also seemed to incriminate the financier.) However suspicious the Duke might be, he needed the financier more than a scandal. So the Duke assumed the paternity of the infant in question. Besides, he was confident that his wife’s first-born–blond and dumb–was definitely his.

Nonetheless, the Duke was prepared to part with his wife. The miserable couple separated and, having the advantage of being Protestant, divorced. The price of her freedom, however, was the loss of her children. Both boys were to be raised by the Duke. The older boy seemed unaffected by the family discord; Teutonic obtuseness has its virtues. The younger boy–perhaps less Teutonic–was all too aware of the scandal and the rumors. His response was to make himself beyond reproach. He was diligent, studious, and puritanical. Ironically, it only proved that he was no Saxe-Coburg, but he was a most admirable young man. Fortunately, he also happened to be handsome.

The young Queen of England certainly thought so. Victoria proposed to the handsome, refined and exemplary young man–and being a second son he really had no other job prospects. He consented and became her Prince Consort. The young woman was so enamoured that she remade herself to be everything that her husband would want. A giddy, self-indulgent Hanoverian became…well…a Victorian. But all the self-contained, industrious, and (let’s face it) self-righteous traits that we call Victorian would more accurately be called Albertian.

  1. Hal Gordon says:

    Eugene — Disraeli would have agreed with you. When Albert died in 1861, he observed, “We are burying our sovereign.”


  2. kathy says:

    tired…who was the daddy?

  3. Joan Stewart Smith says:

    Victoria and Albert’s brood were said to be quite artistic. A lot of sketching going on. I wonder if that knack also came from the Baron von Mayern, the cultivated Jewish chamberlain at the court of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. Oh, the things you made me thing about this morning, Eugene!

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