The Queen has launched a website in which her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria records her life in her own words – but revealed she had no plans to publish her own diaries.
More than 40,000 pages of the journals kept by Victoria from the age of 13 until just before her death have been made available online.
The Queen was handed a remote control in Buckingham Palace’s throne room today, which she pointed at a screen to officially launch the website, www.queenvictoriasjournals.org
The Royal Archives, Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University and online publisher ProQuest scanned the pages – some in Victoria’s own hand and some edited and then transcribed by her daughter Beatrice after her death – for the six-month project, carried out to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
When asked by Bodleian librarian Sarah Thomas if she herself wrote a diary, the Queen, wearing a summery floral printed dress, replied to laughter from those gathered to mark the launch: “Mine’s not being published.”
Dr Thomas said afterwards that she “couldn’t resist” asking the Queen about her own journals, having been a part of the project.
She added that it was “an amazing honour” to work on the journals, which include sketches and paintings drawn by Victoria herself to illustrate the books.
She said: “We have been motivated by the intrinsic value of these collections and the idea of sharing them.
“It amplifies the excitement we have in having Her Majesty herself come here, because it shows she has a real interest. She was obviously engaged.
“This is a part of history. It is such an exciting moment, when you can unlock history and make it publicly available.”
In her diary, Victoria wrote of the scenes that greeted her during a parade to mark her own 60-year reign: “Passed through dense crowds, who gave me a most enthusiastic reception. It was like a triumphal entry. We passed down Cambridge Terrace, under a lovely arch bearing the motto, ‘Our hearts thy Throne’.
“The streets were beautifully decorated, also the balconies of the houses with flowers, flags, and draperies of every hue... The streets, the windows, the roofs of the houses, were one mass of beaming faces, and the cheers never ceased.”
Writing on the website the Queen said: “In this the year of my Diamond Jubilee, I am delighted to be able to present, for the first time, the complete online collection of Queen Victoria’s journals from the Royal Archives.”
The Queen took a particular interest in a drawing of Victoria’s wedding headdress.