Queen Victoria's Secret Side

Lusty, passionate, prone to violent outbursts and perhaps fond of dabbling in drugs. Here are some things you might not have known about the real Queen Victoria…

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria

1. SHE LOVED SEX

It's ironic that the very word "Victorian" is synonymous with stiff social convention, puritanism and repressed sexuality, because the queen herself had a giddy enthusiasm for all things bedroom-related. She didn't have nine children because royal convention demanded such a vast entourage of off-spring - it was simply because she absolutely adored sex with her beloved Prince Albert. Who, by the way, she loved seeing "going commando", as the words in her diary tell us ("How handsome Albert looks in his white cashmere breaches with nothing on underneath").

The couple were so enraptured with each other, and so fond of endless hours in bed, they even had a special button in one of their bedrooms which, when pressed, would automatically bolt the doors to stop anyone from interrupting them. And, when Victoria's personal physician advised her against having any more children, her reply was blunt: "Am I not to have any more fun in bed?"

2. SHE DIDN'T LIKE BABIES

The problem with all the love-making was that Victoria wasn't at all fond of the possible repercussions. She regarded babies as "nasty objects", and even the cutest sprogs made her wrinkle her nose in revulsion. "The prettiest are frightful," he said, commenting on the typical baby's "big body and little limbs and that terrible frog-like action."

And as for breast-feeding... Well, she had a "totally insurmountable disgust for the process", an opinion which she sternly maintained right throughout her life. Even when her own daughters grew up, Victoria was appalled at the practice, saying "It makes my hair stand on end that my daughters have turned into cows."

3. SHE WAS A HARSH MOTHER

Victoria and Albert were one of history's greatest love stories. Few royals and celebrities before or since were so obviously devoted to each other, and their whole relationship could be described as one permanent "honeymoon period". If anything, Victoria was TOO in love with Albert, to the point of regarding her children as distractions. Indeed, her attitude towards some of her kids often crossed the line from aloof to outright hostile.

Even Albert himself was concerned, telling his wife in a letter that "it is a pity you find no consolation in the company of your children. The trouble lies in the mistaken notion the function of a mother is to be always correcting, scolding and ordering them about." In one infamous moment, witnessed by a servant, Victoria apparently beat her son Leopold so hard that the Queen Mother intervened to ask how Victoria could bear the cries of pain. Victoria's alleged reply: "Once you've had nine, mother, you don't notice any more."

4. SHE HAD A ROCKY RELATIONSHIP WITH BERTIE

"Bertie" was, of course, the future Edward VII - a prince who would become known for his easy-going, playboy personality and love of casual hedonism. But, during his childhood years, Victoria seemed immune to his charms. In fact, both parents fretted over his lazy, unintellectual attitude, even hiring the services of a quack phrenologist - someone who "diagnosed" patients by reading the shapes of their skulls. He confirmed Victoria's worst fears by describing the "feeble quality" of Bertie's brain.

It also didn't help that Victoria found her son's appearance utterly unprepossessing. "Handsome I cannot think him," she said damningly, "with that painfully small and narrow head, those immense features and total want of chin."

5. SHE MAY HAVE DABBLED IN DRUGS

It's a contentious issue among historians, but there are long-standing accounts of Victoria having a bit of a fondness for very strong medication. Most striking of all is an oft-told account of the queen's taste for a kind of chewing gum containing cocaine, which was quite the tonic for the nervous system. It's even said she shared some of this gum with a young Winston Churchill at Balmoral.

On top of that, Victoria is thought to have been prescribed marijuana to ease the pain of menstrual cramps - although this tale has been disputed by some. One thing we do know for certain is she enjoyed the benefits of early anaesthesia during medical interventions, and described the effects of chloroform as "delightful beyond measure."

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