Queen Victoria was devastated after the death of Prince Albert. She became lonely and depressed much like any widow feels after losing her true love. After Albert’s death, Victoria fell into a deep depression and mourned her husband for the rest of her long life. But, as the decades passed, she did find solace in the company and friendships of several men.
One notably close relationship was with her servant John Brown, the hard-drinking, bearded son of a Scottish crofter. The controversial friendship between queen and servant caused great rifts in the royal family, and Brown’s influence over Victoria was much criticized. Some have speculated that the relationship was more than platonic with a supposed deathbed confession from Scottish clergyman Norman Macleod that he had married the pair.
Brown was not the only person of low birth that Victoria took a liking to. But why? Why was Brown able to get her out of her depression?
A couple of theories. First, she had her position as Queen solely by birth. She did nothing to earn it. People respected her and admired her not because of who she was but because of her position. Brown did not. Their friendship was not based on her position but on who each other were as persons. That was refreshing to her and elevated her mood.
Second, though her marriage to Albert has been described as a fairytale, that was not the case. Albert was demanding. He was resentful of her position. He constantly pushed her to elevate his status. Brown did not care about any of these things. He made no demands. He was not resentful. He was just a friend. Victoria appreciated this refreshing change from Albert.
Queen Victoria respected him and gave him many gifts, including creating two medals for him: the Faithful Servant Medal and the Devoted Service Medal. She also commissioned a portrait of him in 1876, that was given to him on his birthday.
Some believe there is evidence that they fell in love and even married at some point. When she died she supposedly had a lock of his hair and a ring that he gave her, once belonging to his mom; placed in her coffin. She may have been fortunate enough to have had two loves of her life.