Sir John Conroy | c. 1785-1854
The comptroller of the Duchess of Kent's household, he exerted tremendous influence over Victoria's mother and saw himself as the future power behind the throne. Victoria loathed him and would have nothing of it; she dismissed him from Court following a scandal in 1839.

Captain Conroy was an Irishman, ambitious, handsome and unscrupulous, destined to be the evil genius of the Duchess of Kent....

The Duchess of Kent and Sir John Conroy had [Princess Victoria] to themselves, to mould, as they imagined, into the person they wished her to be....

On the part of the Duchess there was no wish to be unkind. She always adored Victoria, but she never understood her. The Duchess was a duck who had hatched a swan. Her unreasoning, self-doubting, emotional nature -- always asking for advice, said her brother Prince Leopold -- made it possible for Conroy to impose his schemes on her; the loyalty which was perhaps her most admirable trait led her to support him through thick and thin.

Conroy, devoured by ambition, was determined to gain his ends and not particular how he did so.

The result was what came to be known as 'the Kensington System.'

The aim of the 'Kensington System' was to bring up the little Princess to be utterly dependent on her mother. Through Conroy's influence over the Duchess of Kent, an influence, wrote King Leopold, which might once have been called witchcraft, he would then in effect be King of England.... Conroy eagerly anticipated a regency....

The precise nature of the relationship between the Duchess of Kent and Conroy is not certain.... The Duchess and Conroy were the same age, 44, both handsome, both gifted with vitality. When Charles Greville asked the Duke of Wellington if the Duchess of Kent and Conroy were lovers, the Duke replied that he 'supposed so.' On a later occasion the Duke observed that the 'hatred' of Conroy displayed by the young Queen was the result of having witnessed 'familiarities' between her mother and Conroy. Whatever the truth may have been, the treatment to which she was subjected during the years of the Kensington System, including 'personal affronts' from Conroy of which she complained 'vehemently' to her half-brother Prince Charles, provided ample grounds for dislike.

-Cecil Woodham-Smith, Queen Victoria: Her Life and Times, Volume 1, 1819-1861