Duke of Kent, Empress of India, George III of the United Kingdom, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; May 24, 1819 – January 22, 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from June 20, 1837 until her death. On May 1, 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Known as the Victorian era, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire.
Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (the fourth son of King George III and Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz), and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the fourth daughter and seventh child of Franz Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and Countess Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorf.
After both her father the Duke of Kent and his father, King George III, died within a week of one another in January 1820, she was raised under close supervision by her mother and her comptroller, John Conroy. She inherited the throne aged 18 after her father’s three elder brothers died without surviving legitimate issue (King George IV died 1830, Frederick, Duke of York died 1827, King William IV died 1837).
The United Kingdom was an established constitutional monarchy in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, she attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
In February of 1840 Queen Victoria married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the second son of Ernst III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, earning Victoria the sobriquet “the grandmother of Europe” and spreading haemophilia in European royalty. After Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances.
As a result of her seclusion, republicanism in the United Kingdom temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.
In July 1900, Victoria’s second son Alfred (“Affie”) died. “Oh, God! My poor darling Affie gone too”, she wrote in her journal. “It is a horrible year, nothing but sadness & horrors of one kind & another.”
Following a custom she maintained throughout her widowhood, 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.
Through early January, she felt “weak and unwell”, and by mid-January she was “drowsy … dazed, [and] confused.” She died on Tuesday January 22, 1901, at half past six in the evening, at the age of 81. Her son and successor, King Edward VII, and her eldest grandson, German Emperor Wilhelm II, were at her deathbed. Her favourite pet Pomeranian, Turi, was laid upon her deathbed as a last request.
On January 25, King Edward VII, Wilhelm II and her third son, Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, helped lift her body into the coffin. Her funeral was held on Saturday 2 February 2, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and after two days of lying-in-state, she was interred beside Prince Albert in Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park.
With a reign of 63 years, seven months and two days, Victoria was the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest-reigning queen regnant in world history until her great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth II surpassed her on September 9, 2015. She was the last monarch of Britain from the House of Hanover. Her son and successor Edward VII belonged to her husband’s House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
When Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, her eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales became King of the United Kingdom, Emperor of India and, in an innovation, King of the British Dominio. He chose to reign under the name of Edward VII, instead of Albert Edward—the name his mother had intended for him to use —declaring that he did not wish to “undervalue the name of Albert” and diminish the status of his father with whom the “name should stand alone.” The numeral VII was occasionally omitted in Scotland, even by the national church, in deference to protests that the previous Edwards were English kings who had “been excluded from Scotland by battle”.