Hello, this is my first original fiction that I have decided to post, this details a mystery set in the form of a diary at the court of Queen Victoria. I hope to publish more than one of these stories but who knows, this could be terrible?
I have tried to keep it historically accurate but obviously this is fiction, this is an OC story with original events. Also while I know some characters mentioned in this story might have been on the ITV's Victoria but as far as my knowledge of the show goes all of the characters including the servants were real to...so therefore I just gave most historical figures children.
This is entry One, I see this going as far as ten entries but not much more as I intend to keep this as kid friendly as possible.
Also Lajla is a real name it's just a spelling of Laila just in case their is any confusion.
Let me know what you think.
I will try and post another entry before Christmas but I have a load of work to do for uni so I don't know if that will happen.
The Lady Charlotte Tales.
Book One-Murder at the Court.
On the eve of Midsummer, the court of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert meets to celebrate the end of a glorious summer in style. However, the celebrations are soon at an end when one courtier ends up dead and another arrested. But with circumstances not adding up, Lady Charlotte Grey, Maid of Honour, youngest Lady in Waiting to the Queen, and goddaughter of Prince Albert knows that despite everything, she just must investigate.
Set August 1856
The Diary of Lady Charlotte Grey,
Maid of Honour to her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria of that name.
God's own Chosen Kingdom of England.
The Nineteenth day of August, in the Year of Our Lord, 1856
The purpose of this book was for me to write down my thoughts and mediations, or perhaps for completion of my studies. Now I have turned fifteen I have since left the schoolroom but I am keen to learn and perhaps that was why this book was given to me. And it is in truth a very beautiful book given to me for New Years and has a beautiful cover of soft dark blue cloth.
I intend however, to do something quite different. I intend to keep a journal. I find there is no shame in this decision, after all-the Queen keeps a journal and has done so since she was a smaller girl than me. If she can continue the tradition and still have time to complete the matters of state that lie ahead each day then I am sure I will have the time to record my life to the fullest!
So, I suppose to carry on this tradition I shall start with me.
My name is Lady Charlotte Alice Victoria Grey, I am the daughter of Sir John Grey and his wife Lady Alice Grey though both are sadly deceased. I am fifteen years old and I am the youngest Maid of Honour and Lady in Waiting at the court of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. I have been in service to them it seems my entire life and I can think of no other royal couple in which to serve. In fact, many people agree with me upon this, I do think many people can barely remember a time when the Queen was not upon this throne!
My father, Sir John Grey was a relatively minor noble whose only claim to power was due to his death. He died accidently drinking a poison meant for one of the royal couple soon after they were married. He was a Tory backbencher and during a discussion about a coalition to deal with some trouble in Ireland he was invited to the Palace in which to share his ideas. There he drank from a cup of wine at the behest of the Prince to ease a migraine he had been suffering, as Prince Albert had taken upon himself to join the Queen and the children in the nursery before he began his work, and he was found hours later by one of the footmen.
My mother an heiress in her own right died in childbirth so I have been simply alone my entire life and would have fallen into obscurity had it not been for the Queen's good graces and her generosity.
Since this dreadful event I have become a ward of the palace. The Queen was most kind to me, a little two-year-old girl and instead of sending me away to be taken care of quietly in the country she had me released into the care of one of her old Ladies, Lady Elizabeth Branson who retires in London instead of the country unlike many ladies of her widowed status, she has no children from her marriage and was pleased to take me in at the request of the Queen. When I turned thirteen the Queen so graciously offered me a place at her court and I of course accepted. I am glad to be here, although I must confess to sometimes missing the peace of my own chamber and the quiet of my own schoolroom.
Due to my father giving his life for the crown, I am afforded some liberty at court. Prince Albert has insisted I have a good upbringing employing tutors to teach me and ensuring the care of both my mother's estates and some that were granted to me as thanks for my father's sacrifice. I am also the goddaughter of Prince Albert who ensures I want for nothing.
So, that is me. Lady Charlotte Grey. And that is why I wanted to write in this book. I think of someone reading it years, perhaps hundreds of years later and wondering what a girl like me could get up too.
The Queen and Prince Albert ensure us Maids are well looked after. They are getting on a bit in age I fear but you cannot share such an opinion. Not unless you wanted a glare so frosty it would take the form of icicles even in summer. The Queen especially, she is currently with child, her ninth and (as she says) her last. Many are worried about this birth and the mood when she announced to the court was one of worry mixed in with the elation that comes with a new Royal Baby. But she seems in good health and it is due to this fact that we are to celebrate the end of the summer and the beginning of the colder months of autumn this night with a ball.
But that is not the only reason we are celebrating. The war which has taken up so much of my godfather's concern these past few years has slowly been driven to a close. We engaged in a conflict in the Crimean and the war has been ongoing now for three years. Now it is finally over so this ball I believe is not only a celebration of the Queen's impeding childbirth but of peace returning to England.
I am unsure perhaps over the events leading up to the war as the Prince will obviously not discuss it with me however, I am most relieved that it is over. During that time when the Queen and her husband were touring royal hospitals and locked in war councils I spent time with Lady Elizabeth who while having a very strong opinion on the events overseas-did not decided to share these thoughts with me. However I know we have stopped the Russian Empire from advancing into the East, with help from our friends in France, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire.
I am torn I must confess between delight and trepidation. I have not officially come out to society. Lady Elizabeth, Prince Albert and my manager of my estates, Lord Gerald Casteroy have worried over my wellbeing at dances due to this fact and in the past I have gone to bed earlier than some of the other maids and perhaps had my dance card carefully screened, but I have been instructed that not only I am to attend this ball but I am allowed to stay until the Queen withdraws.
The Queen is in such a good mood that she has instructed her Master of the Wardrobe to remodel some of her older gowns from days past and make them more fitting towards us. This is an opportunity for the Maids to chatter insistently about colours and silks and whatnot. Personally, I thought that my best gown of pale green silk was rather appropriate for a summer ball but my new dark blue dress with its gold embroidery is rather beautiful.
Anyhow as of now I am sat in the corner of the chamber that I share with my other companions, Lady Georgiana Willoughby and Lady Clara Merton. As Maids we share a bedchamber with an adjoining presence chamber that houses our trunks, a small desk and three comfortable beds. As of now I am alone. Lady Clara is getting her final fitting for her dress and Lady Georgina has been invited to wait upon the Queen. The chamber is quiet for once however as many servants have been sent below to help the nobility who have been arriving in a steady stream all morning unpack belongings.
In two days' time there will be the ball and then most of the nobility that has come up for this ball will retire back to their houses and Government will continue as normal. We will remain in Buckingham Palace for most of the year I imagine as the Queen will not desire to travel while she is with child.
Oh-someone is calling my name. I must depart.
Later this same day. The Privy Gardens
I promptly closed my dairy and was about to stuff it under the thick coverlet of my bed before I decided to stuff it and my quill and ink in my small bag, hopefully nobody would notice.
I was wearing my third best gown of dark green that is only a little frayed at the hem and for once my hair was rather tame so I doubted anyone that saw me could complain as I ran down the stairs.
I tell a lie however, someone could complain. Indeed, someone always does it seems.
I was stopped halfway down the stairs by the Duchess of Sutherland. She is the Queen's Mistress of Robes, she is essentially in charge of both the Maids of Honour, the Ladies in Waiting and the order of the household and has been in the Queen's service for a long time-since she came to the throne I think.
"Lady Charlotte, stop at once and wait!"
I stopped because if I had carried on running she would never let me hear the end of her shouting when she finally caught up with me later. Certain members of the court think that just because we are young and in some cases rather giggly most women at the court do not respect their elders. It would do no good I knew to set a debate on the subject over dinner with my behaviour.
"Lady Charlotte when will you live up to your name that your pretty Mamma gave you? Do not clatter up and down the corridor, it is so unladylike, it sounds like an advancing army."
Really? Somehow, I think an advancing army would be a little bit louder and would perhaps inspire a bit more terror but I decided not to say so least she box me around the ears which she has done so with other sillier Lady in Waiting's.
"Yes Ma'am" I said finally bobbing a curtsy and that at least seemed to mollify her somewhat.
"The Queen bade you to walk the dogs again before you change for dinner. Lady Georgiana is waiting at the gate to the palace gardens and this time Lady Charlotte please do not fall into the hedge"
Honestly! It was one time and it was only because I tripped in a pothole and caught myself against the hedge. It was not my fault I did not realise there were twigs in my hair until we sat down for dinner.
I smiled through gritted teeth.
"Of course, Duchess" I said finally. Apparently satisfied with my response the Duchess nodded.
"The Queen bids someone to walk the puppies and while I would ask Lady Georgiana I am too old to lose my hearing to the shouts of a simpering, dramatic teenage girl when there is mud on her dress"
I resisted the urge to snort in laughter with great difficulty and for a second the Duchess looked like she wanted to smile as well. But the moment was ruined and once again she was the stern, but caring Mistress of the Robes.
"Now get you gone girl before I insist you change"
She did not need to tell me twice.
Lady Georgiana was waiting outside the gates to the Queen's privy gardens wearing an expression of deep disgust. She does not like the Queen's dogs, the Prince walks his own of course believing it to be good for his heart but now of course the Queen is with child, her dogs are carefully walked by one of her maids and seeing as I am the youngest I am delegated this task. There are now three of them each as dear as the poor dogs that come before them.
Isla, Viscount and Ivan were curled at my very pretty Lady's feet. Lady Georgiana scowled at me when she saw me, she and another Maid at court, Lady Arabella Foy consider themselves at war with the other for the good-looking gentlemen of the court and considering this ball has been planned three months in advance every gentleman in England is going to be in London over the next week wishing the Queen good fortune. Not to mention King Leopold is once again gracing us with his presence from Belgium to congratulate his niece and therefore the court is teaming with Belgium nobles as well.
Lady Georgiana is careful to spend weeks planning including a bath I believe that is too take place today. I personally do not hold with such nonsense but there you are…
"Good day" I said as sweetly as I dared. I am not sure Lady Georgiana understands sarcasm though and therefore I had to bite down on my lip when her expression turned frosty.
"Oh, go on" I said feeling irritated all of a sudden, "I will walk the dogs and you can go back to planning for the ball"
For a second I thought she was almost going to smile at me but then she scowled. "I suppose you like cavorting around with dogs, don't you?" she asked flouncing off her dark hair nearly hitting me in the face. I thought about shouting something rude in German or French (both of which I can speak fluently, and she cannot) but contained myself. The last time I did that the Prince overheard and was not amused.
I took the dogs for their usual walks around the garden and then sat down to write In this book while I let them off their leashes so they could have a proper run, Isla who is quite old contented to curl up by my feet. It was a good thing that nobody saw me with ink in the garden because there would probably be a ruckus. And also, I was sat under a tree with no blanket which doesn't bother me but might ruin my gown.
Oh Lord the Duchess is calling, I should depart before she sees me and shouts.
Later Again this night. Maids of Honour's Chambers.
I have just been forced to have a bath. Apparently with three maids demanding them before the ball, the Duchess of Sutherland has insisted we all have a bath. First, I was forced into a tub of hot water which was quite nice but then she said something about perhaps running a comb through my hair and I almost leapt right out of the bath. The Duchess can be known for her brisk approach to life. I did not want my hair pulled out!
Fortunately, there was a ruckus coming from the chamber opposite, so she called Lajla Francatelli to assist. Lajla is probably one of my best friends despite the fact that she is the daughter of the Queen's Chief Dresser and the Chief Chef. We are of the same age and she too does not have the patience to deal with any of the simpering, twittering idiots that seem to populate this court. While her mother is often busy with the Queen and most girls having to share attendants Lajla is almost an official dresser.
The duchess bustled off and Lajla sat on the stool behind the bath reaching for the nutmeg and rose oil that we use for our hair.
"Well?" I asked. Lajla is a servant and more to that a good one so therefore she knows everything.
"How are things downstairs"
Lajla rolled her eyes.
"Well Mr Penge nearly threw his dinner at one of the Belgium servants for suggesting they get paid more and then one of Lord Casteroy attendants suggested that the new Chamber Maid, Ellie might like to 'Take A Walk to see his bedroom' if you can believe that was used as a topic of conversation and my mother nearly stabbed him in the eye with a hatpin, I think once the ball is over everything will be back to normal though I won't half miss the bustle around the palace. We won't be doing much else for the reminder of the Queen's pregnancy"
I nodded. Of course, once this ball is over the Queen will begin making plans for the reminder of her pregnancy meaning that we shall be staying at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Children will return from Osbourne House where they reside in order to see their mother and be here upon the birth of their sibling.
"But your opinion?"
Lajla shrugged. "I think the ball will be a marvellous success with little to no disturbance to the Queen. I also think that downstairs the drinking will go on until noon the next day and that I will not be able to enjoy any of it because of my overprotective father who is glowering at every man who looks my way including the very nice valet of Lord Rook who came down specially to thank my father for the hot chocolate sent up to each guest's room but…" and here she rolled her eyes.
"One wink at me and the knives are out"
I laughed. Lajla has always been candied about life downstairs and as she rung rose oil out of my hair and then began to bush it dry, I sighed.
"I do wish you could be there for this ball, the dancing will be very tedious without company. So many men always want to commiserate on my father that half the time I want to drown my sorrows and the other half I want to throw something"
"But…but tonight's different…you get to dance until the Queen retires and you get to see Lady Elizabeth when you come down tonight. Is she returning to London after?"
My heart swelled a little at the thought of seeing my guardian. Lady Elizabeth does live only three miles away from the palace, but she resides mostly in her house or in her cottage in the country and I wait constantly upon the Queen. Therefore, our visits have lessened over time. The woman has been a mother and a father to me in all my years and never asked to be my guardian and, yet I do miss her fiercely when she retires to the country even though I know it is for her health.
"Yes" I said finally. "I suppose that is something.
"And" Lajla continued. "There are a few more…northern lords I know that, the kind that don't go south much, and some Scottish ones as well. The Queen seems to be having one last…celebration of sorts before she plans for her confinement"
"Probably because she's not showing" I said. Lajla snorted. Technically we are not supposed to comment on the Queen's pregnancy, in fact she doesn't even like us to see her stomach widen even when she is months into her term, so we did not comment on that further.
Lajla pulled me out of the bath and patted me down with a towel and then rubbed my hair until it was dry, she patted rose oil across the dry spots of my body and laced me into my nightgown just as the Duchess came in with Lady Clara.
"Lady Georgiana, Lady Maud and Lady Arabella are all attending on the Queen tonight, so she has given leave for you, Lady Elizabeth and Lady Clara to retire. Miss Francatelli please ask your father to bring up some small meats and cheeses, seeing as the three of you have all bathed and Lady Georgiana is soon to join you I would have you in bed least a summer fever takes you all"
Lajla bobbed a curtsy and disappeared in a pile of sheets as the servants took the bath out. I was sat by the fire completing this extract while she started laying out the gowns for the ball tomorrow night.
"Will we wait upon the Queen in the morning Duchess?" Lady Clara just asked.
The Duchess nodded. "Yes, until six of the clock and then you will retire to get ready. Everyone is to be ready for seven thirty and there will be no delays look you and that means you as well Charlotte"
Of course, the old bat would single me out, regardless of the fact that bar a little kohl I do not feel the urge to smear my face with cosmetics and change my gown twice therefore taking up all the time. However the day has been long and I am tired. This morning we were up at the crack of dawn for a mass celebrating this new royal birth.
While truthfully there is not a maid at court that could claim that she had enough sleep while in service, this ball has made most of them so excitable that it is impossible for anyone to get sleep. God only knows how Lajla will be coping. She usually has her own room but she sleeps in her parents when the palace is hosting to foreign courts.
She told me once that this not only saves space and time but both Mr Penge (who is in charge of downstairs) and her father have dim views of the average foreigner and this just saves her a headache.
Speaking of which food has just been brought up. With the Queen working until late on her papers, we maids sometimes eat alone in our chambers. This is always enjoyable as we can eat in our nightgowns. I can write and Lady Clara can finish her embroidery while eating. I will help myself to a little bit of bread and cheese before I retire to bed.
End of Entry One.
And please let me know what you think.