Probably few people have not heard of the Victorian era. This time is named in honor of Queen Victoria, who was one of the most prominent monarchs in England. This ruler also received the nickname “grandmother of Europe” because she united Britain with family ties with many European countries. There is one fascinating historical episode connected with Queen Victoria. Once, she almost became the wife of the African king Eyamba V. The throne is reserved for the English ruler there to this day…
According to Nigeria-based writer and journalist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, who recently spoke to the media, the Queen of England has a throne in Nigeria, a West African state.
Before Elizabeth II celebrated her 64th anniversary of reign, Victoria was considered the longest-reigning monarch in England. Her reign lasted for 63 years. During the time allotted to her on the English throne, the Queen managed to accomplish a lot. So what is this woman famous for, and what has she done so special for the country?
Phantom hopes for the throne
Young Alexandrina Victoria had very little chance of becoming Queen. Before her in line for the English throne stood her father and his three childless brothers. The girl grew up in an extremely dull atmosphere of increased severity. She was not allowed practically anything. It was impossible not only to play but even to communicate with other children. After the death of her father, the girl’s uncles took turns taking the throne. Victoria, meanwhile, was married to Prince Albert, her cousin. She was in no hurry to get married.
Everything changed when the last uncle of the future Queen died, and Victoria took the English throne. By law, an unmarried girl was supposed to rule with her mother, but Victoria did not want that. In 1840 she married Albert. The couple carried love for each other throughout their lives. The husband became for Victoria not only a beloved person and best friend but also a mentor and first minister. The couple had nine children.
It was over in an instant. A terrible December day came in 1861, and Victoria’s beloved husband passed away. They had too little time together. The Queen was inconsolable. For several years she refused to appear in public and was in mourning. The people began to show dissatisfaction with their monarch. She had to overpower herself and get down to business.
In 1876, the Queen became known as the Empress of India. It was an important part of the British Empire. Only the bloodshed continued between the Indians and the British. Victoria skillfully found a way out of any situation and always did everything for the good of her country, striving at all costs to preserve the greatness and power of England.
A national slave trade museum is established in Calabar. It contains the correspondence between Queen Victoria and King Eyamba V. He traded with Europe. Due to its convenient location, Efik had a very fruitful and active communication with Europeans. They had a huge impact on their culture at one time. Their traditional clothing to this day is reminiscent of Queen Victoria’s English fashion.
In addition, assimilation was so powerful that the Efik people even began to adopt English surnames instead of their traditional ones. So the names Duke, Donald, Henshaw, Clark, and others spread throughout the kingdom and became completely common.
Efik was actively involved in the slave trade. They acted as intermediaries between African and European merchants. Thanks to this, the kingdom became fabulously rich. They controlled most of all the slaves that came from Africa. Long years after the slave trade in Great Britain was abolished, human shipments were still going through Calabar to other countries. Queen Victoria wanted to stop this and win over the monarch of Calabar to her side.
She wrote him a letter asking him to stop the shameful business. The ruler of Great Britain urged her colleague to start selling dishes, palm oil, and spices, and not people. In the message, the Queen offered protection and patronage to the king and his people.
The myth begins
The ruler signed as “Queen Victoria, Queen of England”. A local translator mistakenly translated it as “Queen Victoria, queen of all white people.”
King Eyamba reasoned that if a woman offered protection, then they should definitely get married. So he wrote in his reply message, signing: “King Eyamb, king of all black people.”
This ruler was a tyrant, dictator, and adventurer. He imagined that together he and Victoria would rule the whole world. The Queen’s reaction can only be imagined. She ignored the tempting offer of the African king, writing in response only that she hoped for strong trade relations. As a gift to the monarch, Victoria sent a royal cape, a sword, and a Bible. Eyamba considered this a positive response to his proposal. He even prepared a throne for his bride and placed it next to his. Rumors spread among the people that their ruler had married Queen Victoria.
After that, the monarchs continued their correspondence. The historical correspondence is now on display at the National Museum in Calabar. Some of the letters were bought by a buyer who wished to remain anonymous. Rumor has it that someone from the British royal family did this in an attempt to destroy evidence of a “romance” between King Eyamba and Queen Victoria.
The tradition continues today
Even today, the coronation of Obong (the king) of Calabar includes references to this royal “marriage.” There are two thrones – one for Obong and one for the Queen of England. The Bible is placed on the Queen’s throne. The true wife of Obong stands behind his throne. The monarch wears a cape and crown that are custom made for this ceremony in England.
A researcher named Donald Duke discovered the originals of the letters. It was he who shed light on this entertaining story. Duke was the governor of Calabar. During his reign, he undertook a massive renovation of the National Museum and discovered letters.
Not a queen, so a prince
In 2017, HRH Prince Michael of Kent visited the country. He is a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. The reigning Obong, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, greeted him, told him the story of the royal marriage, and after that called the prince his “son-in-law.”
The prince showed miracles of diplomacy and did not object. He was appointed chieftain and was given the title of Ada Idaga Ke Efik Eburutu, which means “a man of honor and high position in the Kingdom of Efik Eburutu.” In honor of this, a grandiose ceremony was held at the Obonga Palace.
Queen Victoria undoubtedly played a huge role in the development of the British Empire. She managed to increase the power of Great Britain and turn it into one of the most important players in the world political arena. Thanks to this amazing and prolific woman, European royal families became relatives. And Africa still has a throne…