The Tragedy of Lady Flora Elizabeth Rawdon Hastings (1806-1839)
|© 2000 Glenn F. Cartwright|
Poor Lady Flora! The stories about her were not true. The truth was she was ill. But that didn't matter. Queen Victoria believed the rumours and could not be convinced otherwise.
Flora Elizabeth was born in 1806, the daughter of Sir Francis Rawdon (one time Viceroy of India) and Lady Flora, Countess of Loudoun. Her father was away much of the time since in those days wives seldom travelled with their husbands.
The scandal: A young, unmarried woman in her early thirties, Flora Elizabeth was a Lady-in-waiting to the Duchess of Kent, the mother of Queen Victoria. She had been visiting in Scotland in 1839 and was not well. Returning to London, she visited the Queen's physician but word spread that she was pregnant and a scandal ensued. Unmarried, her honour was stained and even the testimony of two physicians that her symptoms were no grounds to suspect pregnancy was not enough to convince the tongue-waggers. Nor could Her Majesty be convinced despite great public outcry against the Queen..
The truth: Lady Flora Elizabeth had a liver disease which enlarged her liver and perhaps gave the appearance of pregnancy. Outrage seized her family and sister Sophie who sat by Flora's death bed, refused to sleep in a bed belonging to Queen Victoria. To retaliate against the Queen, members of Flora's family affixed postage stamps bearing the Queen's likeness, upside down.
The tragedy: Defamed by the Queen, the disease threatened Flora's life and at age 33, a virgin, she died quietly in her sleep at Buckingham Palace. Her unjustified disgrace coupled with the lack of apology from the Queen probably hastened her death.
Her monument can be found in the Loudoun kirkyard, Ayreshire, Scotland.
Sans histoire, il n'y a pas de futur
Without a past, we have no future
March 23, 2003