'I delight in this work', wrote the young Victoria shortly after she became Queen. She was an engaging creature, high-spirited and eager to be 'amused'. But her early years were difficult ones. Fatherless from the age of eight months, she was brought up at Kensington Palace in an atmosphere thick with family feuds, backbiting and jealousy - the focus of conflicting ambitions. Though her uncle William IV was anxious to bring her into Court circles, her German mother and the calculating John Conroy were equally determined that she should remain under their control. The 'little Queen', who succeeded to the throne a month after her eighteenth birthday, was greeted by a unanimous chorus of praise and admiration. She embraced the independence of her position and often forced her will on those around her. She met and married Albert, marking the end of her childhood and the beginning of a glorious legend.