Bedchamber crisis

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The Bedchamber crisis occurred in May 1839 after Whig politician Lord Melbourne had resigned as Prime Minister. Queen Victoria invited Tory politician Robert Peel to form a new government. Peel realised that such a government would hold a minority in the House of Commons and would be structurally weak, possibly damaging his future political career.[1]

Peel accepted the invitation on the condition that Queen Victoria dismiss some of her ladies of the bedchamber,[2] many of whom were wives or relatives of leading Whig politicians. The Queen refused the request, considering her ladies as close friends and confidantes, not as objects of political bargaining. Peel, therefore, refused to become Prime Minister and Melbourne was eventually persuaded to stay on as Prime Minister.

After Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, the Queen no longer relied on her ladies as companions. In the 1841 general election, Peel's Tories gained a majority and Peel replaced Melbourne. Perhaps on the advice of Prince Albert, Victoria made no attempt to block Peel's request to replace the Whig ladies of the bedchamber with Conservatives.

The Bedchamber crisis was depicted in the 2009 film The Young Victoria.


  1. ^ "The manoeuvres of the Queen's ante-chamber". The Times (17043) (London). 16 May 1839. p. 4. 
  2. ^ Robert Peel (13 May 1839). |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 984–985.