Queen Victoria

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Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Queen Victoria (1819–1901)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Alexandrina Victoria, queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and (from 1876) empress of India, was born on May 24, 1819, the only child of Edward, duke of Kent. Edward was the fourth son of King George III. On February 10, 1840, she married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1819–1861).

It is not known how much of an interest in Spiritualism Queen Victoria had before her beloved husband Prince Albert died of typhoid fever, but with his death there was a very real connection made with the world of spirit. It was reported that the queen began indulging in table tipping at the royal residence at Osborne, on the Isle of Wight.

The same year that Albert died, and within days of his passing, a thirteen-year-old boy living in Leicester, named Robert James Lees, was taking part in a family séance when a spirit claiming to be the recently deceased Prince Albert came through. At a very early age Lees had exhibited mediumistic abilities. Before he was twelve years of age he was a deep trance medium. The spirit of Albert gave a message that he said was for the Queen. A local newspaper editor, who happened to be at the séance, published the message.

Seeing the report, Queen Victoria sent two representatives to visit the boy medium. The two used false names. Lees again channeled information from the Prince, who recognized the two visitors from the Royal Court and called them by their true names. The Prince went on to write a letter, through the entranced Lees, to the Queen. In the letter, he called her majesty by a pet name known only by the two of them. When the Queen received the letter, she immediately summoned Lees to the palace.

Lees was invited to give a séance at Windsor Castle and there he gave evidence that the deceased Prince Albert was still in attendance upon Victoria. A number of séances followed and the Queen offered Lees a permanent position at court. On the advice of his spirit guide, Lees declined, though he did visit the Queen on a few rare occasions.

John Brown, the Queen’s personal servant at Balmoral (the Queen’s estate in Scotland), was named as a substitute. Brown had been a medium for many years and, as a close servant, it is possible that he had conducted séances for her in the past. But now with Albert gone, those séances became very important to Victoria. Brown was described as being a “rough character” who had a strong influence with Victoria, somewhat reminiscent of the relationship between Rasputin and the Russian Czarina Alexandra, wife of Nicholas II. Brown was two years younger than the Queen. It is said that Victoria only tolerated Brown’s rude and outspoken nature because he could make it possible for her to speak to her beloved husband.

Interestingly, although Brown is generally conceded to have been a medium and to have conducted séances for Queen Victoria, there seem to be no records of anything he produced and no details of his sittings.

When Brown died in 1883, Victoria wrote, “The shock—the blow, the blank, the constant missing at every turn of the one strong, powerful, reliable arm and head almost stunned me and I am truly overwhelmed.” She erected a statue to Brown at Balmoral.

In 1997, a movie was issued starring Judy Dench as Queen Victoria and Billy Connolly as John Brown. The movie was directed by John Madden and focused on the relationship between the queen and the commoner. It did not touch on Brown’s mediumship. The year after the movie’s release, the film’s producer claimed that he had seen a cache of “love letters” purportedly exchanged between the two. It seems extremely doubtful that they did become lovers but there was certainly an intimacy that developed between them to the point where Victoria’s children would jokingly refer to their mother as “Mrs. Brown;” the name given to the movie.

After her death, Queen Victoria herself sent messages to her last surviving daughter, Princess Louise, through direct voice medium Lesley Flint. Supposedly her majesty also spoke with Canadian Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King, through the “medium” William Roy, though Roy was later exposed as one of the biggest frauds in the history of Spiritualism.


Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago: William Benton, 1964
Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Spirits and Spirit Worlds. London: Aldus, 1975
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