Coronation Troubles

I found this story on an episode of QI (series N, episode “Not Nearly”).

When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 at the age of 18, the public was very suspicious of a teenage girl all of a sudden having a huge amount of influence over the country. She was the result of the coronation crisis (her father was never king, as he died when she was little, but rather her grandfather was king, and then two of her uncles–George IV and William IV–both of whom did not have heirs in wedlock).

So Victoria, who had been kept fairly well isolated from everyone, seemed to pop up out of nowhere and be like, “I’m queen now!” She had an awful, awful lot to prove to both Parliament and her people in the first few years of her reign.

It also didn’t help that at her coronation in 1838, just about everything went wrong. Not an auspicious start.

First, the Archbishop of Canterbury forced the coronation ring on the wrong finger, causing her great pain. They couldn’t get the ring off afterwards, and the Archbishop would make the same error with Victoria’s wedding ring three years later.

Then the Bishop of Bath and Wells turned over two pages of the service book by mistake and accidentally missed out the bit in which Victoria is declared queen, meaning the coronation was invalid. She had already left Westminster Abbey before they spotted the error, so she had to come back and do it again.

Finally, the elderly and aptly named Lord Rolle became globally famous for tripping over the steps leading to the throne and rolling all the way down. When he did, Victoria leaped up to help him. This act of kindness was actually the first thing she did that helped make her people warm to her.

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