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PERTH NAMES. Victoria of Victoria Square. By Cygnet.
VICTORIA of Victoria Square was that Victoria, Queen of England and Empress of India, who occupied the British throne for the record period of 65 years. She was almost the sole survivor of the sons of George the Third, a band of seven brothers who for madness, badness, roguery, and profligacy defy comparison with any other seven blackguards the world ever produced, yet she inspired in the breasts of her subjects for more than sixty years the noblest emotions and the liveliest loyalty. And this, despite the fact that almost the whole of her reign was spent in wranglings and arguments with her various prime Ministers.
Accident placed Victoria on the throne of England. In 1817 the heir to the throne, Princess Charlotte, only daughter of the Prince Regent (after wards George the Fourth), died in childbirth together with her child. George the Fourth was estranged from his wife; his next brother the Duke of York was without heir; his other brothers were not married, at least not legimately. At once there was a rush on the part of the next three of them to get married and provide the nation with a future monarch. The Duke of Clarence married Princess Adelaide. The Duke of Kent married a German widow, the Princess Victoria. The Duke of Cambridge also secured a bride, and the three of them were married within a month of each other.
The Duke of Kent, although he was married in Germany, went to England to go through the marriage ceremony again, but he was at once forced to fly the country because of his debts. They had been so enormous that England had been closed to him for years, bailiffs awaiting him on every wharf ready to pounce on him should he set foot on English soil. But his creditors allowed him to come to London for his wedding, expecting that Parliament would at once grant him a handsome allowance which they could garnishee. They were disappointed. Parliament was adamant, and so the Duke had to fly again. But he returned when the Duchess was about to be delivered, firstly so that their heir to the throne (as he already regarded her) would be born on English soil, secondly because he was now sure that Parliament would treat him handsomely.
THE child was born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819. It was a girl, and at once trouble began over her name. Czar Alexander of Russia was to be the godfather, and so Alexandrina was decided on. The second name was to be Georgiana, after the Prince Regent. But the Prince Regent objected, and sending for the Russian Ambassador gravely informed him that he could not agree to take second place after the Czar of Russia in his own country of England. So, actually around the baptismal font, the row continued and was only set at rest when the mother's name, Victoria, was substituted for that of Georgiana.
Strangely enough the name Victoria gave great offence to the English people who regarded it as a foreign name and resented it accordingly. This name, however, was not used in the family circle until the princess was four. Until then she was called "Drina." But with the passage of years the original resentment against the name Victoria seems to have grown, and this resentment was not confined to the common people; for when, during the reign of King William the Fourth she was officially styled the heiress-apparent to the throne, two prominent members of parliament solemnly suggested that on acceding to the throne she take the title of Elizabeth the Second. The princess was enraged, for she had the strongest aversion to Queen Elizabeth and always protested being coupled with her in any way. But the final struggle about the name was staged at her accession when she was proclaimed as "Alexandrina Victoria," and all the proclamations and documents on that first day bore those two names. The new monarch, however, ignored this and signed the register of the privy council a few hours after her succession plain Victoria. The cabinet gave in at once, and from the second day of her reign Alexandrina was dropped for ever.
AFTER her christening the Princess Victoria made history by being the first of the royal family to be vaccinated. But this only secured her person against smallpox. What she needed most at that moment was security against the poverty that her father's chronic bankruptcy and appalling debts threatened her with. To such straits was the Duke of Kent put that he petitioned Parliament to be allowed to raffle his home for the benefit of his creditors! But Parliament coldly refused, and the Duke was packing up to flee to the Continent once again out of the clutches of the bailiffs when fate intervened and after a sudden and short illness he was dead. It solved his family's financial troubles to some extent for Parliament now came to their help.
Under the shadow of her father's name, with her mother engaged in a continuous and lifelong disgracefully unseemly fight with all her brothersin-law who heartily detested her as she detested them, and with the royal court closed to her, the young princess began to grow up. She has declared herself that she had a sad childhood Only once did her uncle, George the Fourth, take any notice of her. This was to invite her to a children's ball in honour of the child Queen of Portugal, held the very night that the Parmelia was off Rottnest. The little Queep was described as beautiful, but the Princess Victoria was merely written down as a short, plain child. Most of Victoria's troubles disappeared when she came to the throne - to be replaced of course, by others of equal magnitude. But her immediate trouble following her accession was a period of several months uncertainty whether she was to remain on the throne. For it was believed that Queen Adelaide was with child, and every provision had to be made by Cabinet to deal with that event, which, however, never eventuated.
Victoria Square does not appear to have received its name until the Forties, several years after Queen Victoria's accession. Roe wrote it down on the first map of Perth as Church Hill, and as such it was always alluded to during 1839 and 1840 when the Anglican community was trying to make up its mind whether to build their cathedral on the present site. They rejected the Church Hill site because it was too far away from town, and so this magnificent site went to the Roman Catholics.
Cygnet [Cyril Bryan], Victoria of Victoria-square, West Australian 4 February 1939: 7.
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