Thursday, 3 May 2012

A Royal Love Story

Tomorrow Papa Bear and I celebrate our wedding anniversary! We are so looking forwards to our special day, and plan to do some nice things together, including a trip to the seaside! With every year that goes by, our marriage seems to strengthen and grow, and yet we both feel that there is still so much to discover! We love to remember our beautiful wedding day, and to treasure how very much it meant to us, but we also use our anniversary as a time to look eagerly into the future, and think of the many more happy years ahead that we have together - as a couple, and as proud parents to our sweet son and daughter!

Don't worry - we are not going to bore everyone now with a long "how we met" testimony. Although it is always sweet to see other people's heartfelt stories of their betrothal and marriage and to know of how deep their love and respect is for each other, Papa Bear and I feel that unless you actually know the people whose personal story you are sharing then it is somehow perhaps a wee bit intrusive to read something so private and precious to that particular couple. It is lovely to know that other couples who have been married for a long time, as Papa Bear and I have (he he! We're not quite pensioners yet!) still do feel just in much as love as we do, though, and want to celebrate their special union as we plan to do tomorrow. We always find the example of other married couples who have been married as long as we have a great inspiration (we were betrothed as children and married as soon as we were legally of age - our marriage was not arranged, but it was expected, by our family - and we're very grateful to them for that!). Like those other married couples, we've learned that the secrets to having a wonderful and successful marriage aren't so very complicated - they're quite straightforward really, and the foundation of this is of course, a shared love not just for each other, but for our Father God - and hearts that are willing to serve Him and live out His plan for us. Without His divine presence in our marriage, we know it would be harder to work at, and that this would cause unecessary strain and difficulties. But for us, as it is, we are lucky to celebrate not just the big occasions like anniversaries, but every single day together. We're just as much in love now, as we were when we took our vows!

I've recently been finding out a little more about one of our most famous monarchs, Queen Victoria, who reigned in England between 1837 and 1891. I've been inspired to do this partly because of my interest in the Victorian era (which is far more complex and diverse than I had ever imagined) and also because on a personal level, the lovely story of her romance and marriage to Prince Albert is so moving. It really is a royal love story! And there are some sweet parallels with our very own love story too! Here are a few facts you might be interested to know about Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert ...

She and Albert were first cousins who were introduced by their parents (her mother and his father, who were sister and brother), and they quickly fell in love, although they did not court to begin with and were not betrothed until after she had begun her reign. After they married they fell quickly in love, and it was a passionate love - on her wedding night Queen Victoria wrote that -

"I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!"

I think I wrote something very similar in my diary, on my wedding night too!

As was the case with us, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert became parents to a little girl very soon after their marriage, who was followed quickly after - once again just as was the case for us, by a wee boy! Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were very blessed to have 9 children in total. Their names were (in descending order) - Victoria, Albert, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice. What lovely old-fashion names! We like that just as we had chosen to do, the loving couple chose to use their own names for their first 2 children. How romantic!

Queen Victoria was devastated by the passing of her beloved Prince Albert when he caught typhoid fever in 1861. She mourned so deeply that she never stopped wearing her black "widow's weeds", and kept the room in which he passed (the very room where they had been introduced as teenagers in 1839), as a shrine to him. Her grieving changed her way of ruling the country, as he had been a great support to her during his lifetime, and she became reclusive and isolated. In 1897, however, she did celebrate her Diamond Jubilee - just as our own Queen Elizabeth shall do, this coming June!

Although it was accepted at the time of her reign that a woman should be the Monarch of the country, rather than a man (due to the English laws of accession), Queen Victoria was not a feminist, and thoroughly disapproved of the idea of women adapting the roles of men in society. In 1870, she wrote that -

" I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights', with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to 'unsex' themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection."

And she also commented that -

"I love peace and quiet, I hate politics and turmoil. We women are not made for governing, and if we are good women, we must dislike these masculine occupations. There are times which force one to take interest in them, and I do, of course intensely"

I like to think that if I had been alive when Queen Victoria reigned, I should have found her to be a great role model - devoted to her husband, firm in her beliefs, and committed to the traditions and values that keep families together and marriages stable. But even so, over one hundred years later, I can still look to her example, and pray that Papa Bear and I will one day indeed, be celebrating our "diamond jubilee" together!