Queen Victoria’s deep and abiding friendship with the Empress Eugenie set standards within the mercurial arenas of Victorian society. Their circumferential lifestyles connected, because they took care to nurture an unexpected friendship.
Their marriages were both under magnifying lenses, critically. Yet, the very differences between Victoria’s monogamous and faithful Prince Consort and Eugenie’s notoriously and regularly unfaithful monarch lent them a dais of friendship on which they bonded. By comparisons in contrasts, each strengthened the other’s resolve. As a result, Eugenie spent inordinate amounts of time within Victoria’s court.
In common, the two women with disparate youths remained active in their chosen outdoor activities. Both were fair equestrians which provided outlet for constraints on their innate youthful spirits.
By contrast, Victoria forever indulged in nostalgia, to the point infamy. Eugenie did nothing if not look to the future and its hope, eschewing her own happiness for the sake of duty to her people and to her place in life. Victoria often was criticized for no fault of her own for a proclaimed dowdy appearance and was known to forever seek out her advisors on the tiniest details of protocol. Eugenie set the standards of European beauty and fashion at the highest levels, revered for her physical beauty and deportment.
Both women epitomized the evolving roles of women in a changeable era, where a moment mis-coiffed or misspoken saw a woman exited from societies. And yet, it was an era that honored the gentility of the heart.
Both remarkable women were ultimately revered by history and beloved in their own times.