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France

Prince Albert travelled in Europe as a teenager, spending time in Italy and Switzerland, but the queen’s first chance to venture abroad came thanks to an invitation from the French king Louis-Philippe in September 1843. Victoria and Albert sailed across the English Channel to Normandy to stay with their host and his family at the Château d’Eu. The experience seemed like a ʻdreamʼ to Victoria, and an affectionate relationship developed between the two royal families, strengthened by further reciprocal visits.

 

But 1848 saw profound political upheaval in Europe, and Louis-Philippe’s abdication. The Crimean War in the mid-1850s made it necessary for Victoria and Albert to forge an alliance with Louis-Philippe’s successor, the Emperor Napoleon III. Despite initial reservations, the queen and prince came to admire the emperor. He and his wife visited Windsor in April 1855, and Victoria and Albert made a return state visit to Paris that August. According to Albert, Victoria greatly enjoyed their trip and ‘won the hearts of all by her endeavours to make herself agreeable to the people’.