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Biography of British Monarch Queen Victoria

Updated on May 31, 2013
QUEEN VICTORIA, 1887
QUEEN VICTORIA, 1887 | Source

Lasting a total of 63 years and seven months, the reign of Queen Victoria is longer than that of any other British monarch.

As well as being Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, she was also the first monarch to use the title Empress of India.

A lot happened during her reign. The Victorian era is remembered as a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific and military change in the United Kingdom.

It is especially remembered as a time of empire building. By the time of her death, Britain had a worldwide empire on which the sun never set.

Queen Victoria's monarchy had a strong emphasis on morality and family values. This was a contrast to the previous monarchs who had been involved in many scandals.

What Was Queen Victoria's Full Name?

Her given names were Alexandrina Victoria, and she belonged to the Royal House of Hanover. Victoria was christened privately by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 at Kensington Palace. She was baptised Alexandrina, after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria after her mother.

The Early Life of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was born on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace, London. She was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George III.

Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820. Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Victoria became heir to the throne because the three uncles who were ahead of her in succession - George IV, Frederick Duke of York, and William IV - had no legitimate children who survived.

Victoria's mother was very protective and the young Queen lived her life away from other children. The young Queen was kept from meeting people who her mother did not think were suitable. She later described her childhood as 'rather melancholy.'

Victoria slept in her mother's bedroom every night and studied with private tutors during the day. Her lessons included French, German, Italian, and Latin. In her free time, she played with her dolls and her King Charles spaniel, Dash. Victoria also enjoyed drawing and painting.

QUEEN VICTORIA, 1843
QUEEN VICTORIA, 1843 | Source

Victoria became Queen at the age of 18. During the early years of her reign, she was greatly influenced by her first Prime Minster, Lord Melbourne.

Thanks to his teaching, she learned how to be a ruler in a 'constitutional monarchy' where the monarch had very few powers but could still use her influence to change things.

In 1840, she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Victoria was deeply attached to her husband.

The 2008 movie Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt, provides an introduction to the early reign of Queen Victoria, as well as her courtship with Prince Albert, through a lavish costume drama.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

During his lifetime, Albert took a keen interest in the arts, science, trade and industry. The project Albert is perhaps best known for is the Great Exhibition of 1851. This celebration of industrial trade and technology raised money which helped to fund several museums in London

Victoria and Albert had nine children, four sons and five daughters. Most of their children married into other Royal families of Europe. Victoria was given the nickname, 'the grandmother of Europe.' The book, Queen Victoria's Children, by John Van der Kiste provides a detailed insight into the family.

Victoria bought Osborne House on the Isle of Wight as a family home in 1845. Prince Albert bought Balmoral in 1852.

Sadly, Prince Albert was diagnosed with typhoid fever and died on 14 December 1861. Victoria was devastated. She entered a state of mourning and wore black for the rest of her life. She avoided public appearances, neglected her official correspondence and spent very little time in London. Victoria became known as the 'widow of Windsor'.

Queen Victoria and John Brown

During the 1860s, the Queen was helped a great deal by a servant from Scotland, John Brown. She praised him highly in a book she wrote, Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands.

There were even rumors of a romantic connection between the two, causing the Queen to be given the nickname, 'Mrs. Brown'. The story of their relationship was the subject of the 1997 movie Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, which starred Judi Dench and Billy Connolly.

QUEEN VICTORIA, 1900
QUEEN VICTORIA, 1900 | Source

The Later Years of Queen Victoria

Victoria was unpopular after the early years of her widowhood, but gained some popularity among the people towards the end of her life.

In British politics, a two-party (Liberal and Conservative) system had developed. Laws were passed which allowed for secret ballots and greater entitlement for voting among householders. This meant the Queen's ability to choose who should be prime minister was greatly restricted.

The Queen was very conservative in some ways. For example, she opposed giving women the vote. However, when it came to social issues, she supported any action which would improve life for poor people. She also supported many charities involved in education, hospitals and other areas.

What Happened During The Victorian Age?

In science, the theory of evolution was put forward by scientist Charles Darwin. Railways and bridges were being built by the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The industrial revolution was driving the growth of cities such as Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham.

Yet, despite all this development, there was great inequality. Poverty in Victorian Britain was an issue which concerned the writer Charles Dickens.

Queen Victoria and The British Empire

After the Indian Mutiny in 1857, the government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown. In 1877, Victoria became empress of India. Her empire also included Canada, Australia, New Zealand and large parts of Africa.

Victoria became the symbol of the British Empire. Both the Golden (1887) and the Diamond (1897) Jubilees, held to celebrate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the queen's accession, were marked with great displays and public ceremonies.

What is Victoria Day?

Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday and a local public holiday in parts of Scotland celebrated on the last Monday before or on 24 May (Queen Victoria's birthday).

When Did Queen Victoria Die?

Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, on 22 January 1901 at the age of 81. Her son and successor King Edward VII, and her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, were at her deathbed.

She was buried at Windsor beside Prince Albert, in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum. Above the Mausoleum door are inscribed Victoria's words: 'farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again'. As she was laid to rest at the mausoleum, it began to snow outside.

Around the world, places and memorials are dedicated to Queen Victoria, especially in the Commonwealth nations. Places named after her include the capital of the Seychelles, Africa's largest lake, Victoria Falls, the capitals of British Columbia (Victoria) and Saskatchewan (Regina), and two Australian states (Victoria and Queensland).

The Victoria Cross was introduced in 1856 to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War, and it remains the highest British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand award for bravery.

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