A homosexual relationship was not even considered in the higher social circles of the 19th Century. Even whispered discussion about the possible circumstances were taboo! Society completely denied the fact that it was a common reality and those unfortunate enough to be indiscreet and attract attention were shunned as abnormal deviants. If they persisted in their behaviour, they were jailed – as was the brilliant Oscar Wilde.
As for lesbians – heaven forbid – it was just not possible and therefore it never happened!
In a new historical novel by Philippa Dissel, Victoria’s Royal Secret, Dissel alludes to the delicate subject a number of times. Princess Victoria was overly protected. Her few friends were carefully selected and most were much older than her and definitely her contacts with young men were rare and severely chaperoned.
Her closest companion was Baroness Lehzen. Written throughout the Princess’s diaries there are numerous expressions of love for Lehzen, gratitude to Lehzen, longing for Lehzen and adoring affection.
“She is the most affectionate, devoted, attached and I love her most dearly.”
Many young women from wealthy noble families were unnaturally isolated from the company of men and expressed their frustrated passionate friendships for their girl friends openly and lovingly. However, there were women who took advantage of this situation and no one was even aware of it.
When at eighteen Queen Victoria, like a butterfly from a chrysalis burst on the world, it was Lehzen who was her closest ally and had the most influence over her. Her former Lady in waiting Lady Flora Hastings was banned from Buckingham Palace and her mother was banished to a far off set of rooms. The only alteration the Queen did request to the Palace was an interleading door between her bedroom and the Baroness Lehzen’s.