*The tale of how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert adopted an African slave girl whose parents were murdered will be explored in an upcoming ITV Christmas special.
According to legend, Victoria and Albert enjoyed a passionate private life that saw them share nine children. But few know about their tenth child — a Nigerian princess that they adopted following the brutal murder of her royal parents.
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The Daily Mail reports that “Sarah Forbes Bonetta was just five when she was captured by the King of Dahomey in 1848. British naval officer Frederick Forbes rescued her while on a mission to end slavery among the Dahomans. He convinced Sarah’s captors to present the child as a ‘gift’ to Victoria and sailed back to England with her on his ship HMS Bonetta, which became her adopted name.”
Speaking to the Mirror, her great-great-grandson Arnold Awoonor-Gordon said: “For an African slave to be taken on by the British royal family in the 19th century is remarkable.”
Adding, “Sarah grew up with the queen’s children around her and was treated just like a member of the queen’s own family. Queen Victoria was very kind to her, and it was a relationship that was really ahead of its time.”
Despite their close bond, the queen sent Sarah to live with the Forbes family in Gillingham, Kent, after Albert convinced Victoria that the child was unhappy in Buckingham Palace. A year later, Sarah was sent to Sierra Leone for her education before returning to England in 1855.
The queen would later pressure her into marrying wealthy businessman Captain James Davies in 1862. Sarah named her oldest daughter after the monarch and Victoria senior agreed to be the child’s godmother.
Sarah’s visits with Queen Victoria continued even after she returned home to Lagos, Nigeria, and had two more children, Arthur and Stella. She died of tuberculosis in 1880 at the age of 37 and was buried in Funchal, Madeira.
Her story will be told in the Christmas special of “Victoria,” which stars Jenna Coleman as the queen and Zaris-Angel Hator as Sarah.
The “Victoria” Christmas special airs on Christmas Day at 9pm on ITV.