Historical story

Queen of gluttony. Victoria Hanoverka's greatest love was ... food

Last updated:2022-07-25

In the dining room she was second to none:she ate 8 dishes for breakfast, and attacked the contents of the plates with such an appetite that the courtiers could not keep up with her. She herself admitted that if she could, she would not get up from the table. Effect? When she was 150 cm tall, she weighed over 80 kg, and at the waist she was - a trifle - 130 cm. The most English of England's queens (though not even a drop of English blood flowed in her veins) was also probably ... the thickest.

"Everyone is growing, but not me!" Complained teenage princess Victoria. However, she was not entirely right. It also grew, only… across.

Queen Victoria in a coronation dress in a painting by F. X. Winterhalter

She was an exceptionally plump child from the very beginning. The surroundings compared her to a plump quail, and with her chubby face and filigree height, she looked almost as wide as she was tall. Even then, she treated food as a medicine for all sorrows. It would turn against her over time.

18 kilos of meat and 35 poultry per day

In July 2008, the British auction house Hansons Auctioneers put up a rather unusual exhibit for an auction. They were ... Queen Victoria's panties. Hand sewn for a "fairly short lady, but with a very generous waist". How abundant? The owner's waist circumference was ... 130 centimeters and only 150 centimeters tall!

Princess Victoria of Kent, painting by Stephen Denning from 1823

Where did such an impressive result come from? Right out of the dining room! After taking power in 1837, Victoria began to gain mass spectacularly. And it's hardly surprising, since her table (where she sat conscientiously four times a day) was landed every day with 35 poultry and 18 kilograms of other meat (although, of course, she did not eat it all herself). Mariusz Misztal informs that the daily feasts started with soups and fish dishes:

After the fish there were starters (...), then relevés, light dishes between two fancy ones, eg shrimp pate, then the main course (entrées), white and red bread in thick sauces. After the rum or port sorbets (...), the relevés came again, e.g. wild birds and fried vegetables in wine sauces, and finally desserts, flancs - the main attraction of the evening and contre-flancs - less fancy sweets.

The ruler had a special weakness for the latter. Anyway, only they were able to make the obligatory tea at 5 pm digestible (despite the general love of the kitchen, the queen never liked this drink). Served with a lot of milk and sweetened with chocolate, it could be drunk with macaroons, sponge cakes, butter-cream cake or - because of poverty - chicken or roast sandwiches.

Diet? Only truly royal!

In terms of the approach to food, Victoria was the complete opposite of another famous European ruler. While the ruling Empress Sisi in Austria cared for her appearance morbidly (she was even suspected of anorexia), the English queen did not seem to attach any importance (nomen omen) to her waist circumference at all. However, she was not entirely indifferent to it. As Wika Filipowicz comments:

Wiktoria was not happy about her overweight, but she did nothing to fight it either. William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, trusted statesman, prime minister and mentor, once dared to suggest that she eat a little less and only when hungry. Wiktoria replied that in that case she would not have to get up from the table all day.

She was also skeptical about the proposal to take up physical activity - her walks were disturbed by ... pebbles falling into her shoes . But she just loved dancing and horseback riding (although the mounts she rode might not share her enthusiasm). But she loved to eat more.

Albert and Victoria's wedding

So she tried - somewhat ineptly - to mask the negative side effects of this love with richly decorated clothes. She was under the illusion that the lace, frills and bows as well as the magnificent jewelry would slightly overshadow the flaws of her figure. Well, at least one group of subjects she managed to "deceive". It is about painters who carefully made sure that the ruler's carcass did not go down in history - it can be seen even in wedding portraits. Looking at them, it would be hard to guess that the 21-year-old short Wiktoria weighed 81 kilograms on this special day ...

Light as a feather

Even during the famine in Ireland in 1845–1849, the ruler was unable to tame her appetite. The only restriction she agreed to in order to show solidarity with her subjects was to reduce the bread ration per court member to 250 grams.

A photo of Queen Victoria from the last years of her life

Ultimately, however, she managed to lose weight, although it did not happen until the end of her life. An effective "personal trainer" in her case was ... stress. The defeats of British troops during the Second Boer War led her to digestive problems. As a result, she was able to swallow a little porridge in milk with difficulty.
Although with time (and the tipping of the scales to England), her desire to eat returned, never returned to her former form. Wika Filipowicz reports:

She was very thin, her weight dropped to only 50 kilograms. (...) She was weak. On January 17, 1901, she suffered an attack of apoplexy, as a result of which the facial muscles were paralyzed. She couldn't swallow anything, not even a little porridge, which had recently been her only food.

The lady died a few days later, on January 22. Apparently, when her body was put in the coffin, she was light as a feather ...


  1. Wika Filipowicz, At the table with the king. As was feasted at the royal court from Jagiełło to Elizabeth II, Znak Horyzont 2020.
  2. Mariusz Misztal, Królowa Wiktoria, Ossolineum 2010.