Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS -

Be­fore Vic­to­ria and Al­bert’s day, royal births tra­di­tion­ally took place in a very pub­lic fash­ion, with min­is­ters, privy coun­cil­lors, bish­ops and ladies-in-wait­ing all in at­ten­dance, be­cause of fears that royal ba­bies might be swapped with ‘pre­tenders’ – ba­bies from other fam­i­lies smug­gled into the suc­ces­sion.

But Al­bert broke with tra­di­tion and got rid of th­ese by­standers. He pro­tected Vic­to­ria by en­sur­ing that staff did not talk about what was hap­pen­ing over the course of her preg­nancy and he did not make the ex­pected for­mal an­nounce­ments about the progress of his wife’s con­di­tion.

He also chal­lenged tra­di­tion by at­tend­ing the births of his chil­dren. Ev­ery­one made a fuss about Prince Charles at­tend­ing the birth of Prince Wil­liam, but Al­bert watched the births of all his nine ba­bies.

Once safely de­liv­ered, Vic­to­ria’s chil­dren were handed straight to a wet nurse for breast­feed­ing. Th­ese women were treated well and the wet nurse for Princess Vic­to­ria, the Queen’s first child, was paid £1,000 and given a pen­sion of £300 a year (around £150,000 in to­day’s money). Mean­while, Al­bert was a new kind of fa­ther, ahead of his time in tak­ing an in­ter­est in the royal nurs­ery – in the new East Wing of Buck­ing­ham Palace. He loved noth­ing more than rough play and high jinks with his chil­dren.

Vic­to­ria and Al­bert with baby Vic­to­ria in the se­ries and (be­low) an 1846 paint­ing of the Royal Fam­ily

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