Queen Victoria - information sheet
Queen Victoria (b 24th May 1819; reigned 1837-1901)
Her father died when she was 8 months old and most of her early life was spent with her mother at
Kensington Palace. For the first two years of her reign Lord Melbourne acted as her private secretary
as well as Prime Minister.
On the death of George IV in 1830, his brother William IV became king. He had no surviving
legitimate children and so Victoria became his heir. William IV died 27 days after Victoria's
eighteenth birthday. For the first two years of her reign Lord Melbourne acted as her private
secretary as well as Prime Minister. Victoria and Melbourne were very close.
In February 1840 the Queen married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg who, from 1857,
acted as Prince Consort until his death in 1861. Albert attempted to exert a liberal, progressive
influence and organised the popular great exhibition in 1851, but he was never popular, nor trusted
by the politicians.
After his death a prolonged period of mourning left Queen Victoria desolate and for many years her
seclusion as the Widow of Windsor, refusing to even open Parliament, caused her considerable
unpopularity, with a wave of republican feeling in 1872. She won the people over by sheer staying
power and was created Empress of India in 1876.
So many of her daughters and nieces married so many of the European crowned heads, that she
became known as the Grandmother of Europe. The Queen's power of influence and censure was
considerable compared with the modern constitutional monarchy. She was in favour of the Afghan
and Boer Wars, supported a repressive policy in Ireland, opposing home rule, demanding a strict
Coercion Act to restore law and order. Her interest in foreign affairs was particularly strong.
Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and died in 1901 aged 81. Towards the end of her
life the crown became the symbol of increasing Imperialism abroad. She was succeeded by her son,
the worldly Prince of Wales who became King Edward VII (1901 1910).