Though Victoria was now queen, as an unmarried young woman she was required by social convention to live with her mother, despite their differences over the Kensington System and her mother’s continued reliance on Conroy. Her mother was consigned to a remote apartment in Buckingham Palace, and Victoria often refused to see her. When Victoria complained to Melbourne that her mother’s close proximity promised “torment for many years”, Melbourne sympathised but said it could be avoided by marriage, which Victoria called a “schocking [sic] alternative”. She showed interest in Albert’s education for the future role he would have to play as her husband, but she resisted attempts to rush her into wedlock.
Victoria continued to praise Albert following his second visit in October 1839. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839, just five days after he had arrived at Windsor. They were married on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace, London. Victoria was besotted. She spent the evening after their wedding lying down with a headache, but wrote ecstatically in her diary:
I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert … his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! … to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!
Albert became an important political adviser as well as the Queen’s companion, replacing Lord Melbourne as the dominant, influential figure in the first half of her life. Victoria’s mother was evicted from the palace, to Ingestre House in Belgrave Square. After the death of Princess Augusta in 1840, Victoria’s mother was given both Clarence and Frogmore Houses. Through Albert’s mediation, relations between mother and daughter slowly improved.
During Victoria’s first pregnancy in 1840, in the first few months of the marriage, 18-year-old Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate her while she was riding in a carriage with Prince Albert on her way to visit her mother. Oxford fired twice, but either both bullets missed or, as he later claimed, the guns had no shot. He was tried for high treason, found not guilty on the grounds of insanity, and committed to an insane asylum indefinitely. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Victoria’s popularity soared, mitigating residual discontent over the Hastings affair and the bedchamber crisis. Her daughter, also named Victoria, was born on 21 November 1840. The Queen hated being pregnant, viewed breast-feeding with disgust, and thought newborn babies were ugly. Nevertheless, over the following seventeen years, she and Albert had a further eight children: Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (b. 1841), Alice (b. 1843), Alfred (b. 1844), Helena (b. 1846), Louise (b. 1848), Arthur (b. 1850), Leopold (b. 1853) and Beatrice (b. 1857).
Victoria’s household was largely run by her childhood governess, Baroness Louise Lehzen from Hanover. Lehzen had been a formative influence on Victoria, and had supported her against the Kensington System. Albert, however, thought Lehzen was incompetent, and that her mismanagement threatened his daughter’s health. After a furious row between Victoria and Albert over the issue, Lehzen was pensioned off, and Victoria’s close relationship with her ended