Life in Elmbridge
Victoria always had a great fondness for the Claremont estate in Esher. The estate had been a royal residence since 1816 when it was bought by the British nation through an Act of Parliament as a wedding gift for George IV's daughter Princess Charlotte and her husband Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. Victoria was the niece of Leopold (who was to become the First King of the Belgians) and visited the house many times in her childhood and early adulthood whereupon Leopold lent it to her. In turn Victoria lent it to the exiled French King Louis-Philippe and his wife after the French Revolution of 1848. Victoria bought the estate for her son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, as a wedding gift in 1882.
The Queen writes of 'dear Claremont' many times in her letters:
'We leave dear Claremont, as usual, with the greatest regret; we are so peaceable here; Windsor is beautiful and comfortable, but it is a palace, and God knows how willingly I would always live with my beloved Albert and our children in the quiet and retirement of private life.' (Queen Victoria to King Leopold, 16 January 1844)
As well as Claremont, Victoria has ties to other parts of the borough. She presented the fountain in Esher high street in 1877, and acquired Oxshott Heath in 1882, which she gave (through a will) to Prince Leopold as part of his wedding celebrations.