Civic Publicness

The Creation of Queen Victoria’s Royal Role 1837–61
  • John Plunkett
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


What does a British constitutional monarch do? Month on month, year on year, what provides worthy employment for a sovereign, particularly one supposedly above the machinations of party-politics? In the profession of royalty the public engagement reigns supreme. Whether patronising diverse charities, touring countries in the Commonwealth, or honouring the latest newly built hospital, civic visits loom large in the modern conception of royal duties. This essay argues that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, through the impact of a burgeoning newspaper and periodical press, set a progressive model for the serious duties and pleasurable diversions that we have come to expect from a constitutional monarchy. During the 1840s and 1850s, Victoria and Albert undertook an unprecedented number of regional tours, foreign visits and civic engagements. They forged a successful role for themselves that would be followed by future British monarchs. Their work ranged from an earnest social concern, as in Albert assuming the Presidency of the Society for Improvement of the Labouring Classes in 1848, to the more enlivening nature of their marine jaunts to Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III in 1843 and 1855 respectively.


Civic Engagement Royal Family Periodical Press Pictorial Time Weekly Newspaper 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Plunkett

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