On 16 March 1861 Victoria lamented ‘the dreaded calamity’ which had befallen her ‘which seems like an awful dream, from which I cannot recover. My precious darling Mother has been taken from us. . . . She breathed her last, my hand holding hers to the last moment.’ 1 The Duchess of Kent had died and the Queen was distraught. She confi ded to Albert that she now regretted the sorrow and distress that her ‘beloved Mama had often undergone and the misunderstandings, so often caused by others’. 2 Victoria was experiencing the natural grief of a daughter, tortured by the memory of her teenage behaviour when she had been unable to assess her mother’s strengths clearly.