Alexandrina Victoria, otherwise known as just Victoria, was the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 - 1901. Victoria's reign saw advances within history, science, and communications, as well as the building of railways and the London Underground.

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Early Life


Born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24th, 1819, in London, England, she was the only child of George III's fourth son, Edward Duke of Kent, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, king of the Belgians.

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After her father's death shortly after she was born, Victoria's mother became a domineering influence in her life. As such, she had a sheltered upbringing and was educated by a governess at home. Said to have been a warm-hearted and lively child, Victoria had a gift for drawing and painting, as well as a passion for journal-writing.
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Upon her father's death, she became the heir-apparent since her three uncles - George IV, Fredrick Duke of York, and William IV - had no legitimate heirs who survived childhood.


She came to the throne in 1837 shortly after her 18th birthday upon the death of her uncle, William IV and in February 1840, she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Victoria's first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, was her political adviser and confidant. He helped teach the young queen the intricacies of being a constitutional monarch.

For a more thorough background of Victoria's childhood, consisting of typical greedy politicians, family feuds, and the Tory vs. Whig rivalry, go here.

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A Marriage Partnership


Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was Victoria's cousin and the couple was deeply devoted to each other. At first, the German prince was distrusted by the British public and was excluded from holding any political position. At times, their marriage was tempestuous as their strong wills violently clashed. However, despite this, Prince Albert was her strongest ally, helping her navigate difficult political waters.

The couple had nine children together between 1840 and 1857. Most of these children married into other European Royal families. In 1845, Victoria bought Osborne House on the Isle of Wight as a family home, and Albert bought Balmoral in 1852.
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Victoria was extremely attached to her husband, and when he died at age 42, 1862 from illness, she sank into depression. Albert had been a devoted husband and her most trusted political adviser when it came to state affairs. For the rest of her reign, she wore black.

She rarely appeared in public until the late 1860's. While she was reluctant to resume a full public life, Victoria never neglected her official Correspondence, continuing to give audiences to her ministers and official visitors. She was persuaded to open Parliament in person in 1866 and 1867, but was widely criticized for living in seclusion. As a result, a strong republican movement formed.

Between 1840 - 1882, seven assassination attempts were made on her life. However, her courageous attitude towards these attacks only increased her popularity with the populace. With the private urging of her family and Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister in 1868 and from 1874 to 1880, the Queen gradually resumed her public duties. For more information on Prince Albert himself, go here.

A video that goes into depth of Victoria and Albert's relationship:



And part 2:


A Monarch's Popularity

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It was between 1870 and 1871 when Queen Victoria's popularity was at its lowest. The people were calling for a Republican reform of the government.

However, this came to a screeching halt when the Prince of Wales, her eldest son Albert Edward (for information on Edward VII, go here), contracted an illness that mimicked the signs of the illness that killed his father. It was on the tenth anniversary of Albert's death, December 14, when Albert Edward made a stunning recovery. The British people rallied around him and his mother, the Queen. A grand Thanksgiving celebration service occurred in February 1872 and was held at Saint Paul's Church in London. Crowds lined the streets in support of the family.

Two days later, an Irish revolutionary approached Victoria with a pistol outside Buckingham Palace. It never fired and was found to not have been loaded, but the event shook the British public and quelled the Republican movement entirely.

Her popularity grew due to the increasing imperial sentiment from the 1870s and onward. Despite the decline of the Sovereign's power, she showed that she was a competent ruler who had a high level of prestige and who was willing to master the intricacies of political life in order to exert an important influence. However, she tended to favor measures that improved the life of the poor - her support of charities that improved education, hospitals, and other areas of British poverty life made her people very fond of her efforts.

Politics

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During this time, direct political power was moving away from Victoria and the monarchy. Despite this however, she still held a strong influence over her ministers during key political moments.

She mediated between the two houses of Parliament on several occasions; 1864, pressing them to not be involved with the Prussia-Austria-Denmark war; 1869, with the controversial Irish Church Disestablishment Act; as well as in 1884, with the Third Reform Bill.

More often then not, she sided with the Conservatives due to her own fairly conservative view (such as opposing giving women the right to vote).

In addition, where her indirect hand in foreign policies are concerned, the importance of her children marrying into the various royal houses of Europe should not be neglected.

Her eldest son, Albert Edward, later Edward VII, married Alexandra, daughter of Christian XI of Denmark; Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, married Marie of Russia; Arthur, Duke of Connaught, married Louise Margret of Prussia; Leopold, Duke of Albany, married Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont.

Victoria, Princess Royal, married Friedrich III, German Emperor; Alice married Ludwig IV, Grand-Duke of Hesse and Rhine; Helena married Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; Louise married John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll; and finally, Beatrice married Henry of Battenberg.

A video pertaining Victoria's children:



Later Life

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Later in her life, she became a symbol, or rather, the symbol, of the British Empire. Both the Golden and Diamond Jubilees, held to celebrate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the Queen's ascension, had many great displays and grand public ceremonies. Members from all across the British Empire attended the Golden Jubilee of 1887, while this plus numerous other guests were in attendance at the Diamond Jubilee of 1897.

Victoria and her family traveled and were seen quite often due to the technological improvements of the Industrial Revolution. Other inventions, such as the spread of newspapers and the invention of photography helped in this manner. She was also the first monarch to ride a train - her first venture on one occurred in 1842.

It was also during this time when she received the nickname, "Grandmother of Europe". It had a literal justification since her children married into the various royal European families, and her grandchildren, once old enough, did the same. Some of these grandchildren included German Emperor Wilhelm II, the future Queen Sophie of Greece, Maud the future Queen-Consort of Norway, and the future Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. There were, however, many more.

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Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wright. Her reign was the longest of British history at the time, a total of sixty four years.

At her funeral, she was dressed in a white dress and her wedding veil, along with the military regalia of the Order of the Garter. In honor of her instructions before she died, London was decorated in purple and white, a great contrast from the traditional black.

She was buried at Windsor Castle alongside Prince Albert, in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum, which she had constructed for them. Above the door of the tomb are words that Victoria inscribed herself:
"Farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again."