About Killing Victoria
During the 63-year-long reign of Queen Victoria, seven men took the fateful decision to try to kill her.
Dr Bob Nicholson explores police archives and rarely seen documents to uncover the story of the second assassin - 19-year-old John Francis, who gave up a successful career as a carpenter in the West End of London to become a tobacconist. The business soon failed and after his landlord caught him stealing money, Francis bought a pistol and on the 29th May 1842, he fired at the Queen outside Buckingham Palace. Prince Albert spotted him from their carriage, but none of the guards saw Francis, and so he escaped. When informed of the attempt, the Prime Minister Robert Peel urged Victoria to remain in the palace until the mysterious assassin had been caught, but she had no intention of agreeing to the plan. The Queen wanted to ride out as usual the following day - and would let herself be the bait. Bob Nicholson finds out what happens next, and to determine a motive, delves into John Francis’ past.
During Queen Victoria’s 63-year reign, seven young men, many of them teenagers, made the fateful decision to attack her. After each attempt the news shot through Britain like lightning – journalists, politicians, police and the public all clamoured for information. Why on earth did they do it? Dr Bob Nicholson is an expert in Victorian journalism and popular culture, but the seven assailants were unknown to him – even though their lives intertwined with the most famous woman on the planet. Bob sifts through the police archives, census returns, court reports and the grubby world of Victorian newspapers to piece together their stories, and try and establish the motives of the seven. The first to attack the Queen was 18 year-old Edward Oxford, who worked clearing glasses in a London pub. One day in June 1840 he walked to Buckingham Palace, took a duelling pistol from his pocket and fired at Victoria as she passed by in her carriage. Oxford’s target was just 21 years old and pregnant with her first child. Victoria was unhurt, but shocked. Oxford is caught and put on trial for high treason; within hours, journalists and detectives try to uncover the young assassin’s story. Bob carries out detective work of his own and discovers a traumatic family history that may hold the key to Edward Oxford’s infamous crime.
During the 63 year long reign of Queen Victoria, seven men took the fateful decision to try to kill her. The seven men were within seconds of changing history - each could have brought the Victorian era to a premature end, yet each has been forgotten to history. This new podcast series narrated by Dr Bob Nicholson will look to answer the question of what led these men to try to kill the most famous and influential woman on the planet.
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