Wednesday, April 22, 2015

She Will Be Victorious

They say that behind every powerful man is an even stronger woman. Well, behind every strong woman is a man who tried to beat her down. For Queen Victoria that man was John Conroy.You know Vicky. You've never heard of John. Well, have you? That's because Victoria was a resilient girl who never let Conroy become her puppet master.

Victoria's father died when she was young and her mother soon went broke. It takes cash to raise the queen of England and she turned to her husband's old friend. That's our Johnny boy. There's no record of their conversation, but I believe it went something like this.Mama: I'm broke and my daughter is supposed to become the most powerful woman in Britain. A little help here?Conroy: Oh, you want me to move in with you and control your finances and break your daughter emotionally so she's too weak to rule and I get to control the money foreeeeever?Mama: Wait, what?Conroy: Yeah, I'll help.Mama: Yippee!

For the duration of Victoria's childhood, Conroy called the shots. He fired staff who were too kind to her. Whenever she disobeyed, she had to stand on a dark landing all alone with her hands tied behind her back. Years passed. She grew from a scared child to a teenager who dared rebel in tiny ways, like glaring at him when he came into the room and writing gushing diary entries about people Conroy hated. Of course he read her diary, what responsible guardian wouldn't? He also never told her she was going to be queen of  England. Her governess, who he never could manage to fire, slipped a royal family tree into a book of hers one day and she figured it out. He did his best to keep her from becoming a queen the world would want to have.
Victoria's old, fat uncle-king got older and fatter but he stubbornly refused to die before Victoria came of age. That put Conroy's panties in a twist, so when Victoria came down with typhoid fever, he struck.Here she is, barely lucid, hair falling out, the governess Conroy hasn't managed to fire yet hovering at her bedside, when Conroy barges in flapping a paper. Just sign it, and I'll be your financial secretary forever and ever. She later wrote of this time, "I was extremely crushed and kept under and hardly dared saw a word." Yet somehow, Victoria found the strength in her to resist, even when her mother (who historians speculate might have been Conroy's lover) got in on the bullying.
The night Victoria gets the news, she walks up to Conroy and tells him, "I'm the Queen of England. Sucks to suck. Get out of my palace and die alone."
Something like that, anyway.
You know the rest of the story. She brings about the Victorian era and has landmarks on every continent named after her. The sun never sets on her empire. One of the strongest rulers in history, but what stands out to me is her weakness.
She knew she was destined to be the queen of England. Well, eventually. She knew didn't have to bow down to Conroy. But he took away any power she might have had as a child and cut her off from the people and things that would have lent her strength.
We all have a John Conroy in our lives. Someone who decides to play puppet master and succeeds only because we stand limp and let him jiggle our limbs. Someone who thinks any slight expression of free will is an intolerable act of rebellion. Someone who can't be pleased, or reasoned with, or satisfied by anything other than a bowed head and a hushed tongue. Someone who wants you to be their constant faucet to their constant drain. 
Unless you plan on becoming Queen of England sometime soon, there's only one way to deal with a Conroy: Stand up for yourself. Stand up for yourself and be victorious. 

Victoria recovers, turns eighteen, and outlives her uncle-king.

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