The drawing bears some relation to a remark that the Duke of Kent gave when his spirited newborn daughter Princess Victoria was born at Kensington Palace, he described her as being “Plump as a partridge… more of a pocket Hercules than a pocket Venus”.
In Victorian society popular figures were often satirized as animals, especially in magazine’s such as ‘Punch’. The status, role and significance of animals and the animal kingdom were key issues in the development of Victorian culture. The theory of evolution was of course the central constituent in this debate, but other considerations were important too. Animals as pets, as beasts of burden, their position within the evolutionary chain, their behaviour and character and their relationship to humankind were all important topics, sometimes surrounded by anxiety and fear.
A key figure throughout Victoria’s life and reign was her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Victoria met the German prince at Kensington Palace when the pair were both just 17. Their meeting had been masterminded by Victoria’s uncle, Leopold I of Belgium, who believed he could benefit politically from the match. Yet despite the marriage brokering that had led the couple to meet, this was most definitely a love match. Victoria’s diary revealed that she found the young prince “extremely handsome”. She wrote, “his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful”. As royal tradition dictated that no one could propose to a reigning monarch, in October 1839 it was Victoria who proposed to Albert. Their wedding, which took place in St James’s Palace chapel in 1840.