Victoria of the United Kingdom

Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria Guelph1) of the Royal House of Hanover (May 24, 1819 - January 22, 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for a record sixty-three years, seven months, and two days (June 20, 1837 - January 22, 1901). She was also Empress of India (January 1, 1877 - January 22, 1901).

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

She was born on May 24, 1819, to Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (fourth son of King George III) and Princess Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, sister of King Leopold I of the Belgians and widow of HSH Emich, 2nd Prince of Leiningen. King Leopold's first wife, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, was the only legitimate child of the Prince Regent (future King George IV). After Princess Charlotte's death in 1817, there was a scramble by George III's younger sons to abandon their mistresses, marry, and beget an heir to the realm. The Duke of Kent, marrying at the age of fifty, became the father of the ultimate heiress. (In later years, it was rumoured that Victoria's biological father was Sir John Conroy, an Irish soldier who served as private secretary to Victoria's mother.2)


Victoria
Queen of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland

At the tender age of eighteen, she ascended to the throne following the death of King William IV on June 20, 1837. Victoria was to prove Britain's longest reigning monarch. In her early days, she was largely dependent for advice on the Prime Minister, William Lamb, 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 just sixteen, and found him appealing even then. The families' desire to unite the two happened to coincide well with the desires of Victoria and Albert themselves, and they were married on February 10, 1840. However, there was some friction between them at first, because Albert wished to take an active role in the administration of the realm. Eventually, they reached a compromise, and their marriage became an outstandingly happy one, with the result that Victoria was completely devastated by his early death in 1861.


Victoria
Cartoon of Queen Victoria receiving
the imperial crown of India
from Disraeli
Victoria blamed Bertie, her eldest son, for the death of Prince Albert. She continued to regard him as unfit to take responsibility, even though he was the heir to the throne, and never allowed him the kind of role that would have helped him prepare for kingship. With the extra time on his hands he became an aging 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.

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 occured. 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.

Grandmother of Europe

Victoria was known as the Grandmother of Europe. 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, her mother's Irish secretary and reputed lover2, who was rumoured to be Victoria's actual father. This theory is not perceived as credible, however, as a male who is not a hæmophiliac cannot carry the gene for hæmophilia.


Victoria R
Signature of Victoria R(egina)
before becoming Empress of India
What is clear is that she passed it on to at least two of her daughters (Princesses Alice and Beatrice) with tragic consequences for the heirs to the Russian and Spanish thrones who were the descendants of these two daughters. The most famous victim of this disease was Alexei, the son of Nicholas II of Russia, who inherited the disease from his mother Alexandra of Hesse, a granddaughter of Victoria. Queen Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold, was also born with hæmophilia and died a young man because of it.

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." - 11-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

Footnotes

1 Victoria's actual surname remained a mystery for much of her life until she had her aides check it out. 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 the Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Victoria as a young girl caught her widowed mother in a compromising position with Conroy. It was widely rumoured at court that their sexual relationship predated the Duke of Kent's death, and that Conroy rather than the Duke may well have been Victoria's natural father. However the continuing existence of particular genetic illnesses in the Royal Family after Victoria that existed before her conception and which did not exist in Conroy's family suggest that her natural father almost certainly was the Duke of Kent, who would have passed on the genes to illnesses that struck as late as the 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 the health problems of Prince William of Gloucester.

Preceded by:
William IV
List of British monarchs Succeeded by:
Edward VII

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