24th May 2019 will mark 200 years since Queen Victoria was born. The birth of the British monarch, who ruled over her global empire from ages 18 to 81, is being marked across the UK with a series of exhibitions and events across the UK.
In Robert’s book Monarch he wrote about Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee:
“The Diamond Jubilee cemented Queen Victoria’s position as the first modern, international celebrity. The invention of the postage stamp early in her reign had transported her image almost everywhere, and by the 1890s the rotogravure press was ensuring that her plump, partridge-like features were known to people all over the globe with an intimacy never imparted by coins or statues. When Mr. Colman wished to boost sales of his mustard, he put Queen Victoria on the label. Mr. Cadbury did the same thing with his chocolate, Sir Thomas Lipton with his tea.
“Rules regulating the use of the royal likeness were not formalised until the next century, so the royal profile was broadcast as prolifically in the advertising pages as in the editorial. Thanks to placards and posters, the national icon featured on virtually every railway station and omnibus. No single person’s image had been reproduced so many millions of times before – with the possible exception of Jesus and Mary.
“There were indeed times when the cult of Victoria and her monarchy took on the characteristics of a religion. Charles Darwin’s ideas were ushering in the secular age. In 1882, Nietzsche had announced that God was dead. But His anointed representative in Britain was more hallowed than ever – and by the ordinary people. Queen Victoria was beatified with a new style of royal sainthood, canonisaton of the masses. It was the way that saints were made in ancient times, by grass-roots, communal acclaim, before the mediaeval church hierarchy got its hands on this potent method of mass manipulation.
“The expanding and hugely profitable mass media were the key go-betweens in this process, and towards the end of the century, Buckingham Palace negotiated the appointment of the first royal correspondent, George Morton Smith of the Press Association. But this genteel precursor of the modern royal rat pack coaxed few exclusives from the queen. Smith’s “real” job was a registrar of births, deaths and marriages for the north London borough of Finchley and Friern Barnet, and his reporting duties took up so little time that he also worked as an insurance agent on the side.”
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