Tell us, Sir John, how did you become involved with the British Royal Family?
I was equerry to the Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George III. After the unfortunate death of his niece and her baby, who were next in line for the throne, the duke decided to marry for the sake of the succession. I was with him when he went to Germany to court Princess Victoire; I helped him and his entourage move to Kensington after their marriage; and when he died only a few months later, I was quite naturally the person the distraught duchess turned to for help.
And just what was your relationship with the duchess, Victoria’s mother?
The poor thing spoke hardly any English in the beginning, she was saddled with the duke’s debts, and she knew nothing of the workings of the English court. I think she could have hardly done without me to assist and advise her.
There have been rumors that your relationship was more than that of an advisor.
Balderdash! Nothing to it! I had a wife to whom I was utterly devoted and a fine family. My daughters were friends of little Victoria, and it was my hope that they would one day be given places at court when Victoria became queen.
What about Victoria’s governess, Baroness Lehzen?
She was a German, a foreigner, her title was foreign, and she had deplorable manners. I considered her a most unsuitable person to have so much influence over an impressionable child.
What was your relationship with young Victoria?
I tried my utmost to be a father to the child and to give her the firm guidance she sorely needed. But Lehzen lavished an excessive amount of affection on the little princess and unfortunately often thwarted me in my sincere efforts. As a result, Victoria turned against me and often defied me. Very, very troublesome.
You wished to act as regent in the event that Victoria would become queen while she was still very young. Did you achieve that goal?
I believe that I was treated very badly after my many years of service to the family, and I wish to speak of it no further.
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