Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsLast week we explored the idea of eating and health, and George III's passion for plain food. The Victorian era saw huge expansion in food technology. And the British were eating completely differently. There was frozen food, food manufacturers, the use of raising agents, and widespread home ovens. The British diet was never the same again. This week, we're going to be looking at a significant feasting occasion, Victoria's 17th Birthday Ball. Now it was organised by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and there was a lot riding on it. The Duchess was hoping, hope against hope, that she was get to be regent and rule over Victoria. So she was showing herself as powerful, as influential, and also really bring in her relations.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 secondsVictoria was also a very isolated princess. She'd barely got to see the public. So this is a great moment for her, both for her to enjoy herself, and also for her to be seen. And it was the first time which she ever met Prince Albert. So during this week we're going to meet Dr Annie Gray, Food Historian, who's going to take us deep into the subject of afternoon tea. Victoria didn't know it, but out of all the monarchs, she had the greatest impact on our food. Because what she ate the middle classes had to copy. She was the middle class queen. And by her side was Albert, creating the notion of the perfect home, of the perfect British table.

Welcome to Week 5

Welcome back!

Join Kate at our final destination, Kensington Palace, home to Princess Victoria. It was here that she spent her childhood and where, on 20 June 1837 she learnt she had become queen on the death of her uncle, William IV. The Victorian era had begun!

Last week we explored food offered to George III before, during, and after his first bout of mental ill health. In Week 5 we return to happier times and investigate Victoria’s intimate relationship with food. She was the ‘middle class’ queen and played a key role in the emergence of the ‘middle class diet’. However, Victoria enjoyed many dishes besides the traditional meat, potatoes, and stodgy puddings that many associate with her reign. In Week 5 you’ll find out about some of her favourite foods and how Victoria’s eating habits were influenced by the expansion of her Empire.

Don’t forget to mark this Step as complete before you move on.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

A History of Royal Food and Feasting

University of Reading