Sarah Forbes Bonetta: Portrait of Queen Victoria’s African goddaughter displayed by English Heritage


A PAINTING of Queen Victoria’s African goddaughter Sarah Forbes Bonetta is being displayed across English Heritage sites in the UK. 

The feature is part of the organisation’s plans to highlight “overlooked” Black figures. 

The subject of the portrait is Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who was orphaned at the age of five. She was later sold into slavery. She was then brought to England as a “diplomatic gift” to Captain Frederick Forbes in 1850, who named his ship after her.

During Forbes visits to the monarch, Queen Victoria met Ms Bonetta several times.

Queen Victoria became her godmother when she turned seven.

Ms Bonetta was described by the queen as “sharp and intelligent”.

Queen Victoria paid for her education, and Ms Bonetta later became an accomplished musician and linguist, paying tribute to her godmother by naming her own child after the Queen.

English Heritage said it will commission further tributes of historical Black figures.

The artist behind the painting, Hannah Uzor, said: “To see Sarah return to Osborne, her godmother’s home, is very satisfying and I hope my portrait will mean more as people discover her story.”

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