Friday, April 8, 2011

Vickie's knickers

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) did not want to wear the pants in the family, as this quote reveals:
"I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights,' with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to 'unsex' themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection. I love peace and quiet, I hate politics and turmoil. We women are not made for governing, and if we are good women, we must dislike these masculine occupations."
She did, however, wear the underwear typical of the period, which was crotchless to allow women to relieve themselves without having to wrangle with their unwieldy hoop skirts. A pair of these bloomers (2nd image) that belonged to Queen Victoria (1st image) was kept by one of her ladies-in-waiting who handed them down in her family to the present day. "These pants, considering their provenance and pedigree, are very exciting. They are monogrammed and crested and we know that they are hers," said auctioneer Charles Hanson. Appraised for $995 (£500), the undies were snatched up by a Canadian buyer for $9,000 (£4,500) in July 2008.

Speaking of snatching, did you know that Queen Victoria had a stalker? A strange teenager, Edward “the Boy” Jones*, snuck into Buckingham Palace several times. Twice he sat on the throne without being detected, once he was hauled out from underneath a sofa in her dressing room, and one time he even stole a pair of her underwear. The queen wrote in her journal, “If he had come into my bedroom, how frightened I would have been.” The events are recounted in the new book Queen Victoria’s Stalker The Strange Case of the Boy Jones by one of my favorite authors, Jan Bondeson. Imagine how much the stolen knickers would go for on the auction block!

*See him on the left of 3rd image peeking in at Prince Albert and Queen Victoria?

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