Victoria visited Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire with Prince Albert in 1843. She was just 24 years old, but had already been Queen for 6 years. She writes in her diary that the crowds in Cambridge were awful.
Victoria’s advisers - the spin doctors of the day - thought that the sight of her handsome husband on horseback, hunting heroically with the famous Belvoir hunt, might help boost his image. So this notionally private visit was designed to have a public impact and Tim discovers if it worked.
As a present for guarding her during her stay, Victoria gave the Atholl Guards their own coat of arms, making them to this day the only private army in Europe. Oh, and she threw in a couple of canons for good measure.
Amazingly, the Marquess of Exeter had been planning this visit for four years. So it’s no wonder he wanted the royal autographs still seen in an amazing guest book that Tim discovers. And we see the sketches commissioned to accompany the story.