This is a wonderful book about a friendship between two Queens whose correspondence over many years depicts the most amazing social commentary of the Victorian era.
The Queen of Portugal’s correspondence with Queen Victoria gives us a fantastic insight into the private lives of two powerful women, both married to princes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Their duty was to combine motherhood with the responsibility of reigning over empires.
When only seven years old, Maria da Gloria became queen of Portugal. She had been born and raised in Brazil by her mother Empress Leopoldina of Brazil, Leopoldina was Austrian and Maria’s father was Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. In 1828 she departed for Vienna to be educated in her grandfather’s court, but when she lost the throne to her uncle Miguel, she traveled to the safety of London. It was then in London that Maria met Victoria and they forged a close bond that lasted a lifetime. Her marriage to D. Fernando of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, father of her eleven children, was truly blissful, as she confides in her letters to her “Dear cousin Victoria” – now a queen herself, and married to Fernando’s first cousin, Albert.
Such a tumultuous period of history which illustrates that despite the family ties, the power struggle for various thrones was fought with so much bitterness and acrimony.
Portugal has a fascinating history and Isabel Stillwell writes with so much depth the personalities of the subjects feel so real. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to learning more about the history of this beautiful country.