Moments from the Life and Reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain
The famous Queen Victoria set the tone for Britain’s era of industrial expansion and empire. Though often recalled as wearing black mourning clothes and having a strict code of morality, she was said to be warmhearted and lively. Her reign lasted nearly 64 years, and influenced the centuries to come.
The Young Royal
Born on the 24 th of May 1819, Alexandrina Victoria grew up to become the longest reigning monarch in the history of the United Kingdom. On the 20 th of June 1837 she became queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and she reigned until her death on the 22 nd of January 1901. She also held the title of Empress of India.
The daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, fourth son of King George III, the young Victoria was at first called Drina, a short form of Alexandrina. In time, the people around her began to call her Victoria more and more often.
Princess Victoria (later Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India) aged four. 1823 ( Public Domain )
She was raised under the strict supervision of her mother, the German Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Her father died when she was young and so did King George III. After the death of her father’s three elder brothers, at the age of 18, Victoria inherited the throne and became queen. At this time, the United Kingdom was a constitutional monarchy, a fact which meant that the sovereign did not have too much real political power. In private, Victoria influenced ministerial appointments and government policy, while publicly she became a respected national icon. She was especially revered for her strict standards of morality.
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Queen Victoria in her coronation robes. ( Public Domain )
In 1840, Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, out of love. It was said to be the perfect love match and the two cared about each other sincerely and deeply. They had nine children and they all married into noble and royal families across Europe.
Marriage of Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840. ( Public Domain )
The Grandmother of Europe
As the monarchies of Europe became tied together by these bonds, Victoria earned the nickname “the grandmother of Europe”. Upon Albert’s death in the year 1861, Victoria was distraught. She entered a period of deep mourning and stubbornly avoided public appearances. Her seclusion resulted in an increase in power on the side of the republicans, but this did not last for long.
Victoria photographed by J. J. E. Mayall, 1860. ( Public Domain )
During the latter half of her reign, the queen’s popularity recovered and her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great joy and grandeur.
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The Victorian Era
Her reign of 63 years and seven months has come to be famously known as the Victorian Era. Queen Victoria’s time has been characterized by cultural, political, industrial, military and scientific change and it marked a great expansion of the British Empire. Victoria was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover, her son and heir, Edward VII, belonging to the line of his father, namely that of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Queen Victoria is still remembered today as the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, having only recently been eclipsed by Elizabeth II. Her time marked an era of development in many different domains and a time when culture flourished and industry prospered. Victoria is also remembered for her impeccable sense of personal morality and for her deep and profound love for her dear husband, Albert. Throughout time, her image has inspired artists, novelists and filmmakers and she is not likely to be soon forgotten.
Victoria in her official Diamond Jubilee photograph by W. & D. Downey. ( Public Domain )
Featured image: Portrait of Queen Victoria, 1859. ( Public Domain )
By Valda Roric
A. N. Wilson. “Victoria: A Life” 2014. Published by Penguin Press.
Christoper Hibbert. “Queen Victoria: A Personal History” 2001. Published by Da Capo Press; Reprint edition.