Victoria's beach open to public
Queen Victoria's private beach where she first took a swim in the sea is to be opened to the public for the first time this summer.
The stretch of seafront at Osborne, the monarch's seaside home on the Isle of Wight, has never been accessible to the general public.
But now English Heritage has restored Victoria's original bathing machine to the site prior to its opening on July 27.
Osborne House, near East Cowes, was a popular retreat for Victoria who enjoyed family holidays at the seaside mansion.
She wrote in 1845: "We have quite a charming beach to ourselves."
As well as being the first place that she swam in the sea, it was where her children learned to swim.
Writing of her first bathing experience, she said: "I thought it delightful till I put my head under water, when I thought I should be stifled."
Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: "Queen Victoria is fixed in many people's minds as the grandmother of Europe, a queen who spent most of her reign in mourning for her husband.
"Opening her beach at Osborne lets us show another side to her - this was a Queen who collected sea shells with her children, who sketched the changing sea, and who swam sometimes twice a day.
"Osborne was her seaside retreat from the formalities of Buckingham Palace - now people can visit that seaside."