As the sovereign of the British Empire was writing down her personal thoughts, Victoria's diary entries tended to be about affairs both great and small. Terse comments about momentous events appear alongside mentions of family matters.
As an example, May 1, 1851 was the opening of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, had organized. She presided over the opening ceremonies, and that night she began the day's entry exuberantly:
This day is one of the greatest and most glorious days of our lives, with which, to my pride and joy the name of my dearly beloved Albert is forever associated! It is a day which makes my heart swell with thankfulness.
She immediately followed those sentences with a brief mention of a family birthday party that morning:
We began the day with tenderest greetings and congratulations on the birthday of our dear little Arthur.
And then she returned to a long description of the events at the Crystal Palace, where, in a pink gown, she had opened the greatest show of technology ever assembled.
I looked for a mention of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and Queen Victoria did refer to it on April 23, 1865:
Dreadful news came from America, which at first we can't hardly believe, but they have all here confirmed.
The web site, Queen Victoria's Journals, has several options for reading, including a timeline of her 63-year reign. If you are interested in checking a particular date, the option to browse the diaries works quite well.
A page of resources contains very useful documents, including a list of nicknames used in the diaries, a description of the "physical articles" in the Royal Archives, and other information to guide readers.
An official Twitter account, @QueenVictoriaRI, will be tweeting excerpts and links from the diaries during the period of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Illustration: Queen Victoria/Getty Images
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