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Sir John Ponsonby Conroy, 1st Baronet, KCH (21 October 1786 – 2 March 1854) was a British army officer who served as comptroller to the Duchess of Kent and her young daughter, Princess Victoria, the future Queen of the United Kingdom.
Conroy was born in Wales to Anglo-Irish parents. In 1817, after holding several ranks in the army, he became the equerry of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn. Edward died two years later, leaving a widow and infant daughter. Holding the position of comptroller of the Duchess of Kent's household for the next nineteen years, Conroy also acted as her confidant and political agent, among other roles. Together, they designed the Kensington System, an elaborate and strict system of rules for the upbringing of young Victoria, designed to render her weak-willed and utterly dependent upon them in the hope of allowing them one day to wield power through her.
Princess Victoria grew to hate Conroy, thanks to the oppressive system, and he was also unpopular among the rest of the British royal family. His efforts to place the Duchess in the role of regent were ultimately unsuccessful, as Victoria ascended the throne after reaching her majority in 1837. Conroy was immediately expelled from Victoria's household, though he remained in the Duchess of Kent's service for several more years. Given a pension and a baronetcy, Conroy retired to his estate near Reading, Berkshire, in 1842 and died heavily in debt twelve years later.
Historians have often referred to Conroy as someone with strong ambition, with varying degrees of positive or negative opinion. Rumours circulated during and after his lifetime that he was perhaps the Duchess of Kent's lover. Queen Victoria was shocked to hear this, stating that her mother's piety would have prevented it.
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