What did Queen Victoria ever do for us?

Did you know that there are some traditions that we can still trace back to the Victorian monarch, including our fondness for an Indian takeaway?

H31F3N Portrait of Queen Victoria in her coronation robes   1838

During the birth of her eighth child, Leopold, Victoria was given chloroform to ease labour – against the advice of the Church and her physician who believed it was for common women. Anaesthetic use during childbirth now had royal approval and began being widely used. 


Britain’s love affair with curry goes back to the East India Company, whose men would bring back recipes for the exotic cuisine they had sampled on their travels. The first curry house opened in London in 1810, but many were cautious of this foreign food.

A devotee was found in the Queen herself, who had developed an obsession with all things India since becoming Empress in 1876. Her Indian servant, Abdul Karim, impressed her with his chicken curry dish, and it wasn’t long before curry was on the menu across the households of the aristocracy. 

Although not the first royal to be married in white, Victoria would kickstart the trend for white wedding dresses. Before this, wedding dresses could be any colour – black was popular in Scandinavia and the material was chosen to reflect your social standing.


Victoria chose a white dress made of Devonshire lace and Spitalfields silk to represent British industry. White became a popular colour across all levels of British society; the idea that the white dress symbolised virginity and purity would erroneously come about later.