Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Serving Victoria, Kate Hubbard

Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household

Kate Hubbard

Category: Nonfiction: Biography

Synopsis: Hibbard highlights the lives of some of Queen Victoria’s servants.

Date finished: 6 December 2014

Rating: ****

It would be lying to say that I read this book because I wanted to know about Queen Victoria’s servants. I read this book to learn about Queen Victoria. Who her governess or lady-in-waiting or personal physician were was kind of secondary. And frankly, any book about her servants will be overshadowed by Queen Victoria herself. Overshadowed though she was a diminutive little soul (under 5’ tall).

This book gives a good portrait of the Queen while focusing on the staff members of the royal household. It really is win-win. Hubbard focuses on a handful of the hundreds of servants in the palace at any one time. We meet the royal children’s governess, and the Queen’s maid-of-honor, chaplain, and personal physician, among others. Through the letters they wrote home during their time on duty (the Queen’s ladies worked for a month at a time, several times per year), we gain a deeper understanding of who the servants are, but also who the Queen is. The servants are as loyal as the Queen is demanding, as humorous as the Queen is literal, as practical as the Queen is compulsive, as steady as the Queen is self-indulgent. As Hubbard says, “The Queen, it seems, inspires devotion and exasperation in almost equal measure.” (page 4)

While at times the book did lag a bit and was overall a bit longer than it should have been, the writing was top notch, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Yes. Anyone interested in Queen Victoria, royalty, or servitude would like this one, I think.

You might also enjoy:
Elizabeth the Queen


  1. Replies
    1. I have the new biography "Victoria: A Life" on my TBR pile, but I think I'll need more distance between these two Queen V. books.