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Victoria's secret: science and the monarchy

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Only weeks after Queen Victoria’s coronation, a controversy brewed over the naming of the South American ‘vegetable wonder’ (known today as Victoria amazonica), ‘discovered’ by Robert Schomburgk that New Year’s Day, 1837. This prominent water lily created a horticultural sensation, aspiring to such renown as ‘the most extraordinary and most gorgeous member of the Vegetable Kingdom’ in parallel with Princess Victoria’s own ascension. I revisit the controversy surrounding the naming of this lily to consider the manner by which its royal appeal – and its secrets – illustrates more broadly the making of ‘Victorian science’.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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