The 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth is being celebrated at her childhood home, Kensington Palace, with the opening of two major new exhibitions.
Victoria: Woman and Crown and Victoria: A Royal Childhood begin on Friday to coincide with the bicentenary.
Queen Victoria, who was born on May 24 1819, was previously the longest-reigning monarch in British history before she was overtaken by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015.
Woman and Crown explores the private life behind the monarch’s carefully-controlled public image.
It aims to “re-introduce Victoria as a young woman” and explore her roles as a queen, wife, mother and empress.
Rare surviving pieces from the 19th-century monarch’s wardrobe are on show at the palace for the first time – including a simple cotton petticoat dated to around the time of her marriage and a fashionable pair of silver boots.
Monarch for more than 63 years, Victoria acceded to the throne in 1837 when she was only 18.
Britain had evolved into a constitutional monarchy and she became the figurehead of a vast empire, with her reign spanning the rest of the century.
She married Prince Albert and had nine children, but mourned Albert’s early death for the rest of her life.
The display also explores Victoria’s complex love affair with India, from the story behind the Koh-i-noor diamond to her friendship with the deposed Maharajah Duleep Singh.
Examples of her personal diaries carefully inscribed in Urdu will form a centrepiece.
The Victoria: A Royal Childhood exhibition allows visitors to follow a route through the suite of rooms in the west London royal residence where the young Victoria was born and spent her childhood.
New research by curators at Historic Royal Palaces has been used to reimagine the rooms as they would have been when Victoria was a child.
– Victoria: Woman and Crown and Victoria: A Royal Childhood are open daily from May 24 and entry is included in palace admission tickets.