When she was five years old the Princess Victoria began to have lessons, chiefly with a governess, Miss von Lehzen—“my dearly beloved angelic Lehzen,” as she called her. These two remained devotedly attached to one another until the latter’s death in 1870. The young Princess was especially fond of music and drawing, and it was clear that if she had been able to devote more time to study she would in later years have excelled in both subjects.
Her education was such as to fit her for her future position of Queen of England. The Princess did not, however, know that she was likely at any future time to be Queen. She read much, chiefly books dealing with history, and these were often chosen for her by her uncle, the King of the Belgians.
The family life was regular and simple. Lessons, a walk or drive, very few and simple pleasures made up her day. Breakfast was at half-past eight, luncheon at half-past one, and dinner at seven. Tea was allowed only in later years as a great treat.
The Queen herself said: “I was brought up very simply—never had a room to myself till I was nearly grown up—always slept in my mother’s room till I came to the throne.”
Sir Walter Scott wrote of her at this period of her life: “This little lady is educated with much care, and watched so closely that no busy maid has a moment to whisper, ‘You are heir of England.’ I suspect if we could dissect the little heart, we should find some pigeon or other bird of the air had carried the matter.”
In 1830 her uncle, George the Fourth, died, and his brother, William the Fourth, came to the throne. The young Princess was now the next in succession. Her governess thought that her pupil should be told of this fact, and as the Duchess of Kent agreed, the table of genealogy was placed inside Victoria’s history book, where by and by she found it.
The story goes that she then said, “I see, I am nearer the throne than I thought,” and giving her hand to her governess added: “I will be good. I understand now, why you urged me so much to learn, even Latin. My cousins Augusta and Mary never did, but you told me that Latin was the foundation of English grammar, and of all the elegant expressions, and I learned it as you wished. But I understand it all better now.” In later years the Queen recollected crying very much when she heard of it, but could not recall exactly what had happened.
It is interesting to note what those who knew little Victoria at this time say about her. She was, we are told, exceedingly affectionate, very full of high spirits, fond of life in the open air, and already possessed a strong sense of duty and religion.
She had been taught by her devoted uncle Leopold, with whom she corresponded regularly, how necessary it was for her to understand thoroughly the duties which fall to the share of a ruler. During the years which followed she went more into society and paid visits to the most interesting places in the kingdom. Everywhere she went she was received with the greatest enthusiasm.