John Brown

No not the school days but John Brown, a proud Scot and personal servant who became a favourite of with Queen Victoria.

He was apparently appreciated by the Queen and many others for his competence and companionship but of course with this came influence and disliked for his informal manner in which he addressed the Queen.

Her children and her ministers disliked Brown and the unlikely relationship the Queen had with him and sadly gossip circulated that there was something improper about their relationship. So much so that Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby claimed it was

“contrary to etiquette and even decency”.

when he found they were sleeping in adjoining rooms…such scandal!! But what did the Queen really think of Mr John Brown?

‘Perhaps never in history was there so strong and true an attachment, so warm and loving a friendship between the sovereign and servant … Strength of character as well as power of frame – the most fearless uprightness, kindness, sense of justice, honesty, independence and unselfishness combined with a tender, warm heart … made him one of the most remarkable men. The Queen feels that life for the second time is become most trying and sad to bear deprived of all she so needs … the blow has fallen too heavily not to be very heavily felt…Queen Victoria

Clearly the Queen like anyone else needed companionship and love in her life. Whilst she was the Queen she was also human and the loss of her husband must’ve been such a huge loss. The Queen even went as far to she award him medals and had portrait paintings and statues made of him this clearly upset  her son, Edward VII who destroyed all these after her death.

However an oil painting of Queen Victoria and her servant John Brown, by one of her favourite artists, could fetch up to £30,000 at auction on 1 November at Lyon and Turnbull.

The painting is by Charles Burton Barber, a gift from the Queen to Mr Brown which survived Edward the VII’s destruction shows them on Mr Browns birthday in 1876. In fact the Barber too was a favourite of the Queen and when her died apparently a wreath with the message: “A mark of admiration and regard from Victoria RI.”…not bad i’d say.

This story was captured in the rather 1997 film Mrs. Brown starring Billy Connolly as John Brown and Dame Judi Dench Queen Victoria. It won several awards:

  • winner, BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
  • winner, BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actress in a Film
  • winner, Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
  • winner, BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Deirdre Clancy

I would highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

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