Queen Victoria Figurehead
The Neville Museum’s Victorian artifacts reveal an outstandingly positive perspective of Queen Victoria that had apparently been prevalent in England during her reign. There were different artifacts including portraits, a book and a pair of plates bearing a depiction of the queen. One artifact in particular that had captured my attention was a ceramic figurine depicting Queen Victoria as it had brought to mind two different ideas of how the people saw her at the time as a both a religious figure and a national leader.
For the people at the time there is really only one other person I could see the citizens of England spending their money on a ceramic depiction of and that would be Jesus. There seemed to have been a perceived connection between God and Queen Victoria as was apparent in Elizabeth Barrett Browing’s poem, The Young Queen. In her poem she makes references to the connection between the queen and God. One line that is actually repeated in the poem relates the queen’s seeking guidance from God as Browning says, “But calm she lifts her trusting face, and calleth upon God.” After the repetition of the line Browning offers her approval of the Queen’s calling as the line says, “Yea! Call on God, thou maiden/ of spirit nobly laden,” Browning points out the strong spirituality of the queen as well as approving of her calling upon God. The last line of the poem actually points out how God is approving of her as a queen and will relate his approval through the praise offered to her from her subjects. The line reads, “While the King of kings bless thee by the British people’s voice!”
The queen being blessed by the people’s voice shows just how much she was trusted and admired by her subjects. She was like a celebrity that people admired and possibly cheered for as Browning’s line invokes. The figurine brought on another possible perspective for me when I thought of it in the manner of the poem’s last line. Then it became less of a religious statement and more of a role model, national hero declaration. It reminded me of the Tony Romo figure that I display as an avid Dallas Cowboys fan. I parade my support of the team through the display of the team’s figurehead; this is much in the same manner as how the citizens of England displayed their support of their country through the exhibition of a figurine of their beloved leader. The people’s dependence on the queen can be found in another part of Browning’s poem when she says, “A nation looks to thee/ For steadfast sympathy.” This line really reveals the true place that she held in the people’s hearts and minds as their leader.
The case at the Neville Public Museum holding artifacts from Victorian era England is quite revealing of how her subjects viewed her at the time. There were a few different artifacts, but the ceramic figurine was most revealing to me.