Queen Victoria 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from
20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted
the additional title of Empress of India.
Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both
the Duke and the King died in 1820, and Victoria was
raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess
Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the
throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder
brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate
children. The United Kingdom was already an established
constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held
relatively little direct political power. Privately,
Victoria attempted to influence government policy and
ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national
icon who was identified with strict standards of personal
Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister when Victoria became
queen. Melbourne was fifty-eight and a widower. Melbourne's
only child had died and he treated Victoria like his
Queen Victoria and Melbourne became very close. An apartment
was made available for Lord Melbourne at Windsor Castle and
it was estimated that he spent six hours a day with the
queen. Victoria's feelings for Melbourne were clearly
expressed in her journal. On one occasion she wrote: "he is
such an honest, good kind-hearted man and is my friend,
I know it."
Queen Victoria's cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg,
visited London in 1839. Victoria immediately fell in love
with Albert and although he initially had doubts about
the relationship, the couple were eventually married in
February 1840. Their nine children married into royal
and noble families across the continent, tying them
together, earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of
Europe", and spreading haemophilia to several royal
Prince Albert died of typhoid fever in December 1861.
After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep
mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of
her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength,
but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity
Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public
celebration. Victoria continued to carry out her constitutional
duties however, she completely withdrew from public view and
now spent most of her time in the Scottish Highlands at her
home at Balmoral Castle.
Victoria even refused requests from her government to open
Parliament in person. Politicians began to question whether
Victoria was earning the money that the State paid her.
Her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that
of any of her predecessors and is known as the Victorian era.
Victoria spent the Christmas of 1900 at Osborne House on the
Isle of Wight. Rheumatism in her legs had rendered her lame,
and her eyesight was clouded by cataracts.
She died on Tuesday 22 January 1901, at half past six in the
evening, at the age of 81. Her son and successor, King Edward
VII, and her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II, were at her
deathbed. Her favourite pet Pomeranian, Turi, was laid
upon her deathbed as a last request.
In 1897, Victoria had written instructions for her funeral,
which was to be military as befitting a soldier's daughter
and the head of the army, and white instead of black. On 25
January, Edward, Wilhelm and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught,
helped lift her body into the coffin. She was dressed in
a white dress and her wedding veil.
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