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 drawing bears some relation to a remark that the Duke of Kent gave when in May 1819 his spirited newborn daughter Princess Victoria was born, he described her as being “Plump as a partridge… more of a pocket Hercules than a pocket Venus”.
Queen Elizabeth gorged on sugar, Mary on chocolate, and Princess Anne was known as ‘Brandy Nan’. Victoria ate all of this and more, she had a large appetite both for food and, indeed, for life.
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.