Some of this prudery came from a strong growth of the middle class in Europe following industrialization. The middle class were seeking
respectability and acceptance and felt the need to keep anything that might suggest lower class motives under wraps.
However, all was not as it seemed. Romance was alive and well
and even the Queen who gave her name to the era had a loving and passionate relationship.
We tend to picture Victoria as she was in later years, plump and matronly, with an unsmiling face and dressed in black mourning clothes.
When she was a girl, Victoria showed a different side to her nature. She apparently had quite healthy appetites for the physical part of her marriage. On the morning after her wedding she wrote in her journal "Bliss beyond belief! Oh this was the happiest day of my life."
Victoria became Queen when she was just eighteen following the death of her uncle, William IV.
Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was Victoria's first cousin. He was
one of several suitors trotted out as matrimonial prospects for Victoria. Albert and Victoria were introduced by her Uncle Leopold. When Albert came with his entourage to England to meet her, she was smitten. He appeared as a dashing young prince, with "the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance you could possibly see," as she wrote to her Uncle Leopold, thanking him for arranging the meeting. On his second visit to Windsor, Victoria proposed. This reverse proposal would not have been an expression of girl power or forwardness on her part but rather because of her position.
Albert was obviously equally attracted to her and the acceptance on his part was the start of a loving twenty year marriage. They had nine
children, a testament to their passionate relationship, although it was said Victoria heartily disliked being pregnant, hated breast-feeding and was not enamoured of newborns.
Albert became her chief advisor and until his death from typhoid, her love and mainstay. Victoria became known as the "grandmother to Europe" as her children went on to marry into nearly every royal house.
When Albert died, Victoria became a recluse for years, going into mourning for the remainder of her reign. Albert's rooms remained untouched, with fresh water brought every morning. It took much
persuasion to get her to resume her duties as monarch which led to years of unpopularity for the Queen.
Their story has all the elements of a great romance. It begins as a fairy tale with the young princess meeting her prince. A storybook wedding follows. Adversity comes in several shooting attempts on their lives in the earlier years. Tragedy enters with Albert's death from typhoid. Theirs was a love that endured not only till death do us part but beyond and she mourned him the remainder of her life.