LONDON (AP) — British royal documents including Queen Victoria’s heart-wrenching, handwritten account of her husband Prince Albert’s death have been put online, offering a firsthand account of her overwhelming grief.
Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901. She and German-born Albert had nine children before he died of typhoid in 1861 at age 42.
She writes that as he passed away she “kissed his dear heavenly forehead and called out in a bitter and agonizing cry: ‘Oh! My dear Darling!’ then dropped on my knees in mute, distracted despair, unable to utter a word or shed a tear!”
For the rest of her reign, she wore black.
Images of Victoria’s leather-bound notebook and its handwritten pages have been uploaded as part of thousands of documents and photos on the website www.albert.rct.uk that went online Friday to mark next week’s 200th anniversary of Albert’s birth.
Helen Trompeteler, project manager for the website, said Victoria’s account of Albert’s death, has been available to scholars before, but is being made public in full for the first time.
“It reflects upon obviously the impact that Albert continues to have on her throughout her many extended years of mourning,” she said. “And it’s a testament to the remarkable partnership that they had.”
It was 10 years until Victoria could even bring herself to write about the day the love of her life died.
“I have never had the courage to attempt to describe this dreadful day,” Victoria wrote of Albert’s death at Windsor Castle.
The profound love had always been mutual.
In a letter written to Victoria on the day of their engagement, Oct. 15, 1839, Albert writes: “I . can only believe that Heaven has sent down an angel to me, whose radiance is intended to brighten my life.”
The three-year Prince Albert Digitization Project, which is uploading around 23,500 items from sources including Britain’s Royal Collection and Royal Archives, should be finished by the end of next year.
The documents and photographs also highlight Albert’s role in Victorian society, his patronage of the arts and sciences and his involvement in social causes including his outspoken opposition to slavery.
“He was certainly the most prominent member of the royal family to speak on the issue of the abolition of slavery,” Trompeteler said.