The Extraordinary Life of Sara Forbes Bonetta

The Extraordinary Life of Sara Forbes Bonetta
The Extraordinary Life of Sara Forbes Bonetta
An exploration of Princess Sara’s remarkable relationship with Queen Victoria.

Princess Sara was born into a royal West African dynasty. She was orphaned in 1848 when she was approximately five years old after her parents were killed in a brutal Nigerian slave-hunting war.

Sara ended up as a slave to King Ghezo, from whom Captain Forbes of the Royal Navy rescued her, and gave her the name Sara Forbes Bonetta, naming her Bonetta after his ship the HMS Bonetta. Captain Forbes then convinced King Ghezo to give Sara as a present to Queen Victoria.    

In England, Queen Victoria was impressed by the young princess' exceptional intelligence, and had Sara raised as her goddaughter. Sara spent her life between the British royal household and her homeland in Africa. A stubborn cough caused Sara to be sent back to school in Africa, at the age of eight, but she was unhappy there, and Queen Victoria commanded that she be returned to England at the age of 12.    
   
Sara continued to enjoy a close relationship with Queen Victoria, spending time at the palace and attending royal events. In 1862, the Queen sanctioned Sara to marry Captain James Pinson Labulo Davies, a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth. They married in St Nicholas Church, Brighton.   
       
Shortly after her marriage, Sara gave birth to a daughter and was granted permission by the Queen to name the child Victoria – the Queen also became her Godmother. The newlyweds moved back to West Africa. On 15th August 1880, Sara died of tuberculosis whilst convalescing from the illness in Portugal.