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Victoria of the United Kingdom
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Victoria of the United Kingdom

Victoria, Alexandrina Victoria Wettin (May 24, 1819 - January 22, 1901) of the German Royal House of Hanover was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for sixty-three years, seven months, and two days (June 20, 1837 - January 22, 1901), the longest reign yet of any British monarch. Victoria was also styled Empress of India (January 1, 1877 - January 22, 1901).

A Canadian provincial capital bears the name Victoria in her honour, as does a Hong Kong city, an Australian state, and several other geographic areas. Victoria's name has become associated with the larger part of the 19th century, the so-called Victorian Era, and with the Victoria sponge cake.

Table of contents
1 Birth and background
2 Victoria and Albert
3 Mrs Brown
4 Empress of India
5 Grandmother of Europe
6 Quotations
7 Children of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert
8 Footnotes

Birth and background

Victoria was born on May 24, 1819 to Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (fourth son of King George III) and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, sister of King Leopold I of the Belgians and widow of Emich, 2nd Prince of Leiningen. Leopold's first wife, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, was the only child of the Prince Regent (future King George IV). After Charlotte's death in 1817, there was a scramble by George III's younger sons to beget a legitimate heir to the realm. The Duke of Kent, marrying at the age 50, became the father of the ultimate heiress.2

The Duke and Duchess wanted to name their daughter Georgiana Charlotte Augusta Alexandrina Victoria. However, the Prince Regent refused to allow his (George) or Charlotte's name to be bestowed upon the possible future monarch. He announced she would be named Victoria Alexandrina after her other godfather, Alexander I of Russia. On January 23, 1820, when Victoria was only eight months old, her father died.

Until the age of three, Victoria spoke only German (the first language of her mother as well as Victoria's governess). At an early age she was schooled in English to ensure she would speak it flawlessly. She later learned to speak Italian because of her love for opera. She was also reportedly quite proficient in Greek, Latin and French.

When Victoria was ten, her uncle King George IV died childless. His brother acceded to the throne as William IV and, as William also stood without legitimate children, Victoria became Heir Presumptive. Her mother was terrified that someone might try to poison or kill Victoria, being the only legitimate heir. She made sure Victoria never went anywhere with out a bodyguard, and moved Victoria's bed into her room, to make sure no one made any attempts on her life at night.

At the age of eighteen, she ascended to the throne following the death of William IV, on June 20, 1837. In her early days, she was largely dependent for advice on the Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, with whom she forged a strong relationship.

Victoria and Albert

Victoria met her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha when she was sixteen. Aside from their lineage, they had both been delivered by the same doctor, Frau Siebold. She asked him to marry her (because she was Queen, he couldn't ask her to marry him) and the wedding took place on February 10, 1840. There was some friction at first, Albert wishing to take an active role in the administration of the realm. Eventually, they reached a compromise, and their marriage became an outstandingly happy one.

While Victoria was clearly infatuated with her husband, the true nature of Albert's feelings for her are still debated. Biographers have suggested Albert was not in love and married Victoria out of duty (their families desired the union) and to gain social status (being but a minor prince). Whether it was a love match on both sides or not, the fact remains that Victoria was devastated by Albert's death in 1861. She kept a painting of him in his coffin by her bed, and wore only black for the rest of her life. She issued an edict that no male successor ever be crowned King Albert. This is why her son, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and her great-grandson, Albert Frederick Arthur George, were crowned as Edward VII and King George VI respectively.

from Disraeli]]

Victoria blamed the Prince of Wales for Albert's death. She and Albert always regarded him as unfit to take responsibility, and never allowed him the kind of role that would have helped him prepare for rule. With the extra time on his hands he became a playboy, whilst the queen withdrew into semi-permanent mourning and was popularly known as "the widow of Windsor". Her withdrawal from public life increased the profile of her children, most notably, Bertie and his wife Alexandra. She was known to keep dachshund dogs. She also was fond of chess.3

Mrs Brown

As well as being known as the Widow of Windsor, Queen Victoria was also known as "Mrs Brown" because she relied increasingly on a Scottish retainer, John Brown. The nickname was long perceived as a joke. The recently discovered diaries of Lewis Harcourt, a politician of the time, may lend credence to the story. The diaries contain a report that one of the Queen's chaplains, Rev'd Norman Macleod, made a deathbed confession to Harcourt repenting of his action in presiding over Queen Victoria's marriage to John Brown. Debate continues over whether the marriage actually happened. Some scholars insist that Victoria would never have married a servant and even doubt that the relationship was even romantic. They doubt the veracity of Harcourt's account and question why a royal chaplain would confess to a politician. Others are equally certain that Victoria was in love with Brown and regard Harcourt's account as confirmation that a marriage actually occurred. Supporters of the Brown marriage theory regard Harcourt as a well-placed source with no obvious reason to place a false story in his private diaries. In the final analysis there is no way to be absolutely certain of the truth. (Victoria requested that mementos of both Prince Albert and John Brown be placed in her coffin, a request which horrified her family, who disliked Brown intensely).

Empress of India

Her favourite Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, persuaded her to assume, by Royal Proclamation of April 28, 1876, the title of "Empress of India," reflecting the fact that she had presided over a massive expansion of the British Empire and the continued rise of Britain as an industrial power. On January 1, 1877, at the first Imperial Assemblage (or Durbar) in Delhi, Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. She was not present, and she never visited India. Later in 1887, her golden jubilee brought her to new heights of popularity, and she went on to celebrate a diamond jubilee ten years later.

In Calcutta is a large Victoria Memorial, which is still beloved by the locals - unlike other British Monuments in India.

Grandmother of Europe

Victoria was known as the Grandmother of Europe. All of her nine children married into royal families, and her descendants married into more royal houses as well. She often called her family "The Royal Mob" as they would often converge at royal events and weddings. Her descendants have married into the Royal houses of Spain, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Prussia, Russia, Romania, Yugoslavia and many others. She is known to have an avid dislike of babies, finding them gross. She never nursed her own children, and is known to have a disliking for her sons Edward and Leopold.

She was the first known carrier of hæmophilia in the royal line. It remains unclear how she acquired it. One theory is that it came about as a result of a sperm mutation from her father, who was 52 when Victoria was conceived. Alternately, she may have acquired it from her mother, though there is no known history of hæmophilia amongst her mother's family or her maternal ancestors. A third is that it came via Sir John Conroy, Victoria's Irish secretary and reputed lover of her mother2. This theory is not deemed credible, however, as a male who is not a hæmophiliac cannot carry the gene for hæmophilia.

]]

What is clear is that she passed it on to at least two of her daughters (Princesses Alice and Beatrice) with tragic consequences. The most famous victim was Alexis, son of Nicholas II, who inherited the disease from his mother, Victoria's granddaughter, Alexandra of Hesse. Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold, was also born with hæmophilia and died at age 31. Alexandra was so overcome with grief by Leopold's death, she was unable to walk and was in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Queen Victoria died in 1901, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and was buried at Frogmore, Windsor Castle. She was succeeded by her eldest son, Edward VII.

Quotations

"We are not amused." - This quotation is attributed to Victoria, with varying stories. One has her saying it after viewing a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Other stories describe it as a reaction to a groom-in-waiting of hers, the Hon. Alexander Grantham Yorke, either to a theatrical production he put on, or to a risqué joke he told to a German guest and which the Queen asked him to repeat after the guest laughed loudly. In this account, she was not using the royal "we but speaking for the affronted ladies of the court. [1]

"I will be good." - 10-year-old Victoria's spoken response in 1830 when her governess let her know that one day she would be Queen.

"Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfil my duty towards my country; I am very young, and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure, that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have." - her response in her diary upon becoming Queen in 1837 at age 18.

Children of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert

NameBirthDeathNotes.

Victoria, Princess Royal November 21, 1840 August 5, 1901 married Friedrich III (1831 - 1888), German Emperor and King of Prussia
Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later, Edward VII) (November 9, 1841 May 6, 1910) married Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844 - 1923), elder daughter of Christian IX of Denmark
Princess Alice April 25, 1843 December 14, 1878 married Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (1837-1892)
Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and later reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha August 6, 1844 July 31, 1900 married Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia (1853-1920)
Princess Helena May 25, 1846 June 9, 1923 married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1831-1917)
Princess Louise March 18, 1848 December 3, 1939 married John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll 1845-1914
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Stathearn May 1, 1850 January 16, 1942 married Princess Louise Marguerite of Prussia (1860-1917)
Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany April 7, 1853 March 28, 1884 married Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont (1861-1922)
Princess Beatrice April 14, 1857 October 26, 1944 married Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896)

Footnotes

1 Victoria's actual surname remained a mystery for much of her life until she had her aides investigate. They concluded that Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was only the Royal House name of Prince Albert, not as is often presumed, his surname. The general conclusion was that his actual surname, were he to have to use one, would be Wettin, which by marriage became Victoria's also and that of her children. Victoria was less than happy with the name and all mention of the name she hated was hidden for decades until rediscovered during the First World War. In 1917, both the Royal House name and the personal family surname was changed to Windsor.

2 According to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Victoria as a young girl caught her mother in a compromising position with John Conroy. It was widely rumoured that they became lovers prior to the Duke of Kent's death, and that Conroy, not the Duke, was Victoria's biological father. However the continuing existence of particular genetic illnesses in the Royal Family after Victoria that existed before her conception, which did not exist in Conroy's family, suggest that her father almost certainly was the Duke, who would have passed the genes of the illnesses that struck Prince William of Gloucester, who was killed in an airplane crash in 1972. Source: Report of a conversation with Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom in which she talked of William's health problems.

Researchers on her medical background believe the hæmophilia was more likely to have resulted from genetic mutation. If Victoria had been illegitimate, then Prince Ernst August - the current head of the House of Hanover - would be able to claim to be the only legitimate King of the United Kingdom. The Royal Family has denied requests to exhume Victoria for tissue sampling.

3The Hereford Times of January 1889: "that the greatest solace the Empress Victoria has in her widowhood is Chess-- a game she frequently played with the Prince of Wales when they found themselves with a leisure hour. The Empress generally travels with a Chess Board and men."

Preceded by:
William IV
Queen of the United Kingdom Succeeded by:
'''Edward VII
Empress of India