Queen Victoria was born on 24 May 1819 and came to the throne in 1837 when she was 18 years old. British people who lived during her reign are known as ‘Victorians.’
Victoria reigned for 63 years and 7 months. She is the second longest reigning monarch after the current queen, Elizabeth II.
Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had 9 children.
Childhood and Early Life
Princess Alexandrina Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on the 24th May 1819. Although she was named after her grandfather, Tsar Alexander I, she was known as Victoria – a name that was not yet well-known in England.
Victoria’s father died before she was a year old meaning that she became third in line to the throne. Her mother realised that Victoria had a chance of becoming queen, and, along with her advisor Sir John Conroy, began to strictly control every aspect of the young princesses’ life.
The princess had a very secluded childhood. She was never allowed to be alone, and shared a bedroom with her mother until she became queen at age 18. Her closest companions were her half sister Feodore and her governess, Louise.
Her day to day life involved lessons in writing, languages, music, and history, amongst other subjects. She enjoyed writing stories and painting and occasionally went on trips to the theatre. Victoria began writing a diary at the age of 13, and continued this habit for the rest of her life.
When William IV died in 1837, Victoria became Queen and chose to distance herself from her mother and Conroy. During the early years of her reign she was heavily influenced by Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, and her husband Prince Albert.
Marriage and Family
Victoria proposed to her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on the 15th October 1839 and they married on the 10th February 1840 – the first wedding of a reigning Queen of England in nearly 300 years. Their first child, Victoria, was born in the same year and was followed by 8 others, despite the Queen’s hatred of pregnancy, which she described as ‘like being a cow or a dog.’ The royal family were seen as the perfect family unit and represented widely idealised domestic values.
Victoria adored her husband and he hugely influenced her political and government decisions, becoming her key advisor. In 1845 Charles Greville wrote ‘it is obvious that while she has the title, he is really discharging the functions of the sovereign. He is the King to all intents and purposes.’
Victoria was keen to support peace during her reign, and married her children to royal families across Europe to strengthen bonds between nations. She was the first British monarch to visit a French monarch since Henry VIII met Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.
Victoria donated more than £2,000 to help victims of the Great Famine in Ireland in 1845.
As imperial sentiment grew, so did Victoria’s popularity. In 1857, the crown took control of administrating India and in 1876 Victoria was awarded the title ‘Empress of India.’
In Victoria’s reign the idea of a ‘constitutional monarchy’ developed. This meant that the monarch remained above the political parties, and decisions were instead made by ministers and elected parliaments. However, Victoria was still forceful and let her opinion be known. Her conservative views meant that she was opposed to giving women the vote, but strongly supported the Empire. However, she agreed with the passing of laws that helped those in poverty, and supported many charities.
During Victoria’s reign many significant acts and laws were passed. This included the Representation of the Peoples Act of 1884, which increased the number of people who were able to vote.
After becoming ill, Prince Albert died in 1861. His death deeply affected the Queen and she entered a long period of mourning, wearing only black for the rest of her life. She even had her maids lay out Albert’s clothes each night ready for the morning, until her own death. She became increasingly isolated and refused to appear in public or attend important events. This secluded lifestyle meant that she became less popular and the republican movement became ever more prominent.
Eventually, in 1866, she appeared at the opening of parliament for the first time since Albert’s death and gradually resumed some of her public duties. This included her Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations, visiting wounded troops in hospital during the Boer War, and a visit to Dublin in 1900.
After spending her final days at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and steadily becoming more unwell, Victoria died on the 22nd January 1901. She had ruled for nearly 64 years. A huge outpouring of grief followed, and the Queen was