On Thursday, June 28, 1838, the coronation ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey. Afterward the Queen made a royal progress and was greeted by immense crowds of her people with the utmost loyalty and enthusiasm. In her journal she described it as the proudest day of her life. Mrs Jamieson, an onlooker, wrote of her as follows:
“When she returned, looking pale and tremulous, crowned and holding her sceptre in a manner and attitude which said, ’I have it, and none shall wrest it from me,’ even Carlyle, who was standing near me, uttered with emotion, ‘A blessing on her head!’”
As a small instance of the Queen’s consideration for others, one of her first thoughts after the ceremony was for the school-children. She wrote to her minister, Lord Melbourne, asking if it was not usual to give a week’s additional holiday to the schools on such an occasion as this.
Lord Melbourne was from the moment of her accession the Queen’s chief adviser, and from the many letters which passed between them it is extremely interesting to see with what affection the young and inexperienced girl regarded him. “He is not only a clever statesman and an honest man,” she wrote to her uncle, Leopold, “but a good and a kind-hearted man, whose aim is to do his duty for his country and not for a party.”
Lord Melbourne was almost a second father to her, and there is no doubt that it was largely due to his excellent and homely advice that the Queen was able during the early years of her reign to develop in such an astonishing manner and yet at the same time to retain such a sweet and womanly character. Of her regularity of life and careful attention to detail we learn from Greville’s diary. She rose soon after eight o’clock, and after breakfast was occupied with business the whole morning. During this time Lord Melbourne visited her regularly. At two o’clock she rode out, attended by her suite, and amused herself afterward for the rest of the afternoon with music, singing, or romps with children. Dinner was served at eight o’clock to the whole household, and the Queen usually retired soon after eleven. “She orders and regulates every detail herself; she knows where everybody is lodged in the Castle, settles about the riding or driving, and enters into every particular with minute attention.” She never signed a single document of any importance until she had thoroughly mastered its contents.
In October, 1839, her cousins Ernest and Albert paid her a visit, bringing with them a letter from their uncle Leopold, in which he recommended them to her care. They were at once upon intimate terms, and the Queen confided to her uncle that “Albert was very fascinating.” Four days after their arrival she informed Lord Melbourne that she had made up her mind as to the question of marriage. He received the news in a very kindly manner and said: “I think it will be very well received, for I hear that there is an anxiety now that it should be, and I am very glad of it. You will be much more comfortable, for a woman cannot stand alone for any time, in whatever position she may be.”