Nowadays, turning 18 marks the start of freedom and independence. You are no longer a minor in the eyes of the law, you are allowed to vote and can finally get your driving license. You leave high school behind and prepare for life in the real world. It’s scary, but exhilarating at the same time.
Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom must have experienced mixed feelings too, although she had different cares from the young people of today. She was preparing to become queen and was already taking her role very seriously.
Here’s what she wrote in her diary on 24 May 1837, the day of her 18th birthday:
Today is my 18th birthday! How old! and yet how far I am from being what I should be. I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study with renewed assiduity, to keep my attention always well fixed on whatever I am about, and to strive to become every day less trifling and more fit for what, if Heaven wills it, I’m someday to be!… At half past three we drove out… the demonstrations of locality and affection from all the people were highly gratifying. The parks and streets were thronged and everything looked like a Gala day. Numbers of people put down their names and amongst others… good old Labache inscribed his… We went to the ball at St. James’s Palace. The courtyard and the streets were crammed… and the anxiety of the people to see poor stupid me was very great, and I must say I am quite touched by it, and feel proud which I always have done of my country and of the English nation.
Less than a month later, Victoria would become queen.