Queen Victoria’s Stalker

Was the army captain in love with Queen Victoria a dangerous obsessive or an innocent man? His NSFW letters shocked but so did his treatment.

Young Queen Victoria, 1838 by Thomas Sully. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain.

In autumn 1837 Captain Jonathan Childe, an officer in the 12th Lancers, became convinced that the young Queen Victoria had become romantically attached to him. That a handsome, well-born man might have caught the queen’s eye was not impossible. She was very young, of an amorous nature and impressed by manly men. Instead of simply taking the compliment, Childe wrote her a series of passionate love letters. And then he would not, or could not, stop writing.

Victoria might have been young and amorous, but she was also the queen of England. Any idea of a relationship or secret communication was nonsensical. Polite, and then insistent, requests for Childe to stop writing followed. His ‘offensive’ letters continued. Pressure from the palace and the army led Childe’s father to have him examined by a team of medical doctors to see if his obsession was clinical. After attempts at supervision and distraction failed, he was sent to a private asylum outside Dublin in 1842.

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