Duke of Clarence, Duke of Kent, Empress of India, Kensington Palace, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, King George III of the United Kingdom, King George IV of the United Kingdom, King William IV of the United Kingdom, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Edward, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, The Prince Regent, 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 in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 216 days is known as the Victorian Era and was longer than any of her predecessors. She is the second longest reigning British Monarch. It was a period of industrial, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. In 1876, the British Parliament voted to grant her the additional title of Empress of India.
Victoria’s father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III of the United Kingdom and Charlotte of see Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Until 1817, King George’s only legitimate grandchild was Edward’s niece Princess Charlotte of Wales, the daughter of George, Prince Regent (who would become George IV).
Charlotte’s death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent and his unmarried brothers to marry and have children. In 1818, the Duke of Kent married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children—Carl (1804–1856) and Feodora (1807–1872)—by her first marriage to Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen. Her brother Leopold was Princess Charlotte’s widower and later the first King of Belgium. The Duke and Duchess of Kent’s only child, Victoria, was born at 4:15 a.m. on May 24, 1819 at Kensington Palace in London.
Victoria was christened privately by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on June 24, 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. She was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria, after her mother. Additional names proposed by her parents—Georgina (or Georgiana), Charlotte, and Augusta—were dropped on the instructions of Kent’s eldest brother, the Prince Regent.
At birth, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after the four eldest sons of George III: George, Prince Regent (later George IV); Frederick, Duke of York; William, Duke of Clarence (later William IV); and Victoria’s father, Edward, Duke of Kent. Prince George had no surviving children, and Prince Frederick had no children; further, both were estranged from their wives, who were both past child-bearing age, so the two eldest brothers were unlikely to have any further legitimate children.
William and Edward married on the same day in 1818, but both of William’s legitimate daughters died as infants. The first of these was Princess Charlotte, who was born and died on March 27, 1819, two months before Victoria was born. Victoria’s father died in January 1820, when Victoria was less than a year old. A week later her grandfather, King George III, died and was succeeded by his eldest son as George IV. Victoria was then third in line to the throne after Frederick and William. She was fourth in line while William’s second daughter, Princess Elizabeth, lived, from December 10, 1820 to March 4, 1821.
After the deaths of her father and grandfather in 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. Victoria, a constitutional monarch, attempted privately to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. Their 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, British republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond jubilees were times of public celebration. Victoria died in 1901 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, at the age of 81. The last British monarch of the House of Hanover, she was succeeded by her son King Edward VII of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.