Today at Kensington Palace, I had the delight of coming unexpectedly upon Queen Victoria’s dolls and dollhouse. (Note the first one pictured to the left represents Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the handsome favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. ) It is said that when Queen Victoria found affairs of state weighing too heavily, she would go visit her dolls and dollhouse to remember the lightheartedness of childhood.
Naturally she had far more dolls than the average little girl or indeed the average aristocratic child. Given her highly guided and manAged childhood, it must have been a relief to Victoria, who played with her dolls until she was either 12 or 14, to control the whereabouts of others–even if they were mere wood dolls–since she had so little control over her own daily life.
I would like to thank the guides at Kensington Palace for their warm and friendly responses to all my questions! Every single guide regaled me with fascinating details about the lives of Britain’s royal family as well as the many splendid works of art and the fascinating architectural development of the building itself.
Once in a while I get to see what has happened to a doll sold years ago, usually through Facebook. I refound Betsy Amudi, a beautiful lady I met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who was a far more active member of the American Ladies of Jeddah than I. (Wish I had been!) Today she has a business making gorgeous floral arrangements in New Castle, Pennsylvannia.
Betsy bought one of my dolls at a bazaar. When we reconnected, she told me about redressing the doll. She promised to send a picture. Today she has done so and I am thrilled. I love the combined colors and the embroidery of the doll’s apron! I l also love Betsy’s beautiful table setting, and of course, the floral arrangement behind my doll.
How amazing to see these bits of handiwork in the American homes of women I knew when we were all in a desert country at the same time!
Betsy wrote, ” One of your dolls sits on my shelf this moment (wearing a cleaner, new dress). I said to myself, “ok, if I were Julia, what new dress would I wear?” So I took a linen my mother hand stitched a design on, a needle and thread and just started to create. I’ll send you a picture of her. It’s one of the few things I never got tired of and I love her every time she looks at me!”
Behold how many pleasant days have I spent with fair women;
Especially do I remember the day at the pool of Darat-i-Julju1.
On that day I killed my riding camel for food for the maidens:
How merry was their dividing my camel’s trappings to be carried on their camels.
It is a wonder, a riddle, that the camel being saddled was yet unsaddled!
A wonder also was the slaughterer, so heedless of self in his costly gift!
Then the maidens commenced throwing the camel’s fesh into the kettle;
The fat was woven with the lean like loose fringes of white twisted silk.
On that day I entered the howdah, the camel’s howdah of Unaizah!
And she protested, saying, “Woe to you, you will force me to travel on foot.”
She repulsed me, while the howdah was swaying with us;
She said, “You are galling my camel, Oh Imru-ul-Quais, so dismount.”
Then I said, “Drive him on! Let his reins go loose, while you turn to me.
Think not of the camel and our weight on him. Let us be happy.–from the poem of Imru-Ul-Quais.