Twilight of Splendor

Written by Greg King
Review by Audrey Braver

Subtitled The Court of Queen Victoria during Her Diamond Jubilee Year, this narrative history suggests that “Twilight of Splendor” is limited to detailing the pomp and circumstance of the Jubilee Year. This is not the case. There are many descriptions of the life and times of Victoria Regina occurring before her Jubilee, events that took place while her “beloved” Albert was still alive. Amid catalogue-like descriptions of rooms and suites in various residences occupied by Queen Victoria are vignettes of court life, the royal family, and royal servants. Far from hiding from the public, Victoria traveled from royal residence to royal residence like a desert nomad going from oasis to oasis. She visited the French Riviera regularly. One hotel built a separate wing that was kept for the exclusive use of the queen and the royal entourage. Relationships with her family, her staff, including the interesting Indian munshi, Abdul Karim, who replaced the deceased highlander, John Brown, as companion-servant are related.

King has written an account that could be an invaluable reference source for details of Victoria’s life, activities, duties, and relationships. He gives us glimpses of a very human and likeable person that the history books do not often convey.