Queen Victoria

Ruler of the world, grandmother of Europe

This is a source collection that shows the life of Queen Victoria from beginning to end. It is a story involving glory and sadness. Victoria (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Victoria inherited the throne aged 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign had relatively little direct political power. Behind closed doors, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; In public, 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 nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, which gave Victoria the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, 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. Her reign of 63 years and seven months is known as the Victorian era. 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. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father. The collection is organised in a chronological order, because it illustrates the development that she and her country went through for the duration of over half a century. It also shows that, especially in the period prior to her Golden and Diamond Jubilees, she has not always been only admired by the people, but also criticised . The source collection thus tries to give a multiperspective approach to this influential historical figure.

Acknowledgments: This source collection has been developed by Bjorn Pels with the support of Laura Steenbrink. The source collection makes use of sources provided by the British Library, The Wellcome Library, Livrustkammaren, Daguerreobase, University of Leuven, Institutul Național al Patrimoniului, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Royal Museums Greenwich

Princess Victoria

When she was born, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after her father and his three older brothers: the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence (later William IV). The Prince Regent and the Duke of York were estranged from their wives, who were both past child-bearing age, so the two eldest brothers were unlikely to have any further children. The Dukes of Kent and Clarence married on the same day 12 months before Victoria's birth, but both of Clarence's daughters (born in 1819 and 1820 respectively) died as infants. Victoria's father and grandfather died in 1820, within a week of each other, and the Duke of York died in 1827. After the death of her uncle George IV in 1830, Victoria became heiress presumptive to her next surviving uncle, William IV. The Regency Act 1830 made a special provision for the Duchess of Kent to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor. King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, and in 1836 declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided. (The British Library, 001001163_v0p000897, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Princess Victoria

When she was born, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after her father and his three older brothers: the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence (later William IV). The Prince Regent and the Duke of York were estranged from their wives, who were both past child-bearing age, so the two eldest brothers were unlikely to have any further children. The Dukes of Kent and Clarence married on the same day 12 months before Victoria's birth, but both of Clarence's daughters (born in 1819 and 1820 respectively) died as infants. Victoria's father and grandfather died in 1820, within a week of each other, and the Duke of York died in 1827. After the death of her uncle George IV in 1830, Victoria became heiress presumptive to her next surviving uncle, William IV. The Regency Act 1830 made a special provision for the Duchess of Kent to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor. King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, and in 1836 declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided. (The British Library, 001001163_v0p000897, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Queen Victoria as a young woman

Victoria later described her childhood as "rather melancholy". Her mother was extremely protective, and Victoria was raised largely isolated from other children under the so-called "Kensington System", an elaborate set of rules and protocols devised by the Duchess and her ambitious and domineering comptroller, Sir John Conroy, who was rumoured to be the Duchess's lover. The system prevented the princess from meeting people that her mother and Conroy found undesirable (including most of her father's family), and was designed to render her weak and dependent upon them. The Duchess avoided the court because she was scandalised by the presence of King William's bastard children, and perhaps prompted the emergence of Victorian morality by insisting that her daughter would avoid any appearance of sexual impropriety. Victoria shared a bedroom with her mother every night, studied with private tutors to a regular timetable, and spent her play-hours with her dolls and her King Charles spaniel, Dash. Her lessons included French, German, Italian, and Latin, but she spoke only English at home.. (by F.W. Wilkin, The Wellcome Library CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Queen Victoria as a young woman

Victoria later described her childhood as "rather melancholy". Her mother was extremely protective, and Victoria was raised largely isolated from other children under the so-called "Kensington System", an elaborate set of rules and protocols devised by the Duchess and her ambitious and domineering comptroller, Sir John Conroy, who was rumoured to be the Duchess's lover. The system prevented the princess from meeting people that her mother and Conroy found undesirable (including most of her father's family), and was designed to render her weak and dependent upon them. The Duchess avoided the court because she was scandalised by the presence of King William's bastard children, and perhaps prompted the emergence of Victorian morality by insisting that her daughter would avoid any appearance of sexual impropriety. Victoria shared a bedroom with her mother every night, studied with private tutors to a regular timetable, and spent her play-hours with her dolls and her King Charles spaniel, Dash. Her lessons included French, German, Italian, and Latin, but she spoke only English at home.. (by F.W. Wilkin, The Wellcome Library CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Coronation

This is a copy of a painting by Charles Robert Leslie (1794-1859), created in 1841 and is a Daguerrotype painting of the Coronation of Queen Victoria in a hall among a crowd of people and many women, possibly ladies-in waiting. She is viewed kneeling from the side. On 20 June 1837, William IV died at the age of 71, and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. In her diary she wrote, "I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen." Official documents prepared on the first day of her reign described her as Alexandrina Victoria, but the first name was withdrawn at her own wish and not used again. At the time of her accession, the government was led by the Whig prime minister Lord Melbourne, who at once became a powerful man with influence on the politically inexperienced Queen, relying on him for advice. Victoria’s coronation took place on 28 June 1838 at Westminster Abbey. Over 400,000 visitors came to London for the celebrations. She became the first sovereign to take up residence at Buckingham Palace. (Daguerreobase, 971b42e0-94ae-c818-643d-ffc4cf903cbc, 003-5001/2/28225, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Coronation

This is a copy of a painting by Charles Robert Leslie (1794-1859), created in 1841 and is a Daguerrotype painting of the Coronation of Queen Victoria in a hall among a crowd of people and many women, possibly ladies-in waiting. She is viewed kneeling from the side. On 20 June 1837, William IV died at the age of 71, and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. In her diary she wrote, "I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen." Official documents prepared on the first day of her reign described her as Alexandrina Victoria, but the first name was withdrawn at her own wish and not used again. At the time of her accession, the government was led by the Whig prime minister Lord Melbourne, who at once became a powerful man with influence on the politically inexperienced Queen, relying on him for advice. Victoria’s coronation took place on 28 June 1838 at Westminster Abbey. Over 400,000 visitors came to London for the celebrations. She became the first sovereign to take up residence at Buckingham Palace. (Daguerreobase, 971b42e0-94ae-c818-643d-ffc4cf903cbc, 003-5001/2/28225, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Marriage

This picture is housed in a Wharton style case and is a Reproduction of an artwork (probably a print) of the young queen Victoria and Prince albert, each in an oval border. Though queen, as an unmarried young woman Victoria was required by social convention to live with her mother. Her mother was consigned to a remote apartment in Buckingham Palace, and Victoria often refused to see her. She showed interest in Albert's education for the future role he would have to play as her husband, but she resisted attempts to rush her into wedlock. Victoria continued to praise Albert following his second visit in October 1839. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839, just five days after he had arrived at Windsor. They were married on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace, London. Victoria was besotted. She spent the evening after their wedding lying down with a headache, but wrote ecstatically in her diary: “I never, never spent such an evening! My dearest dearest dear Albert ... his excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, and we kissed each other again and again! His beauty, his sweetness and gentleness – really how can I ever be Bethankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!” Albert became an important political adviser as well as the Queen's companion. Victoria's mother was evicted from the palace, to Ingestre House in lgrave Square. (Daguerreobase, a2cda6b9-32c3-aa3b-3d1a-93f56fa760ed, 2003-5001/2/28095, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Marriage

This picture is housed in a Wharton style case and is a Reproduction of an artwork (probably a print) of the young queen Victoria and Prince albert, each in an oval border. Though queen, as an unmarried young woman Victoria was required by social convention to live with her mother. Her mother was consigned to a remote apartment in Buckingham Palace, and Victoria often refused to see her. She showed interest in Albert's education for the future role he would have to play as her husband, but she resisted attempts to rush her into wedlock. Victoria continued to praise Albert following his second visit in October 1839. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839, just five days after he had arrived at Windsor. They were married on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace, London. Victoria was besotted. She spent the evening after their wedding lying down with a headache, but wrote ecstatically in her diary: “I never, never spent such an evening! My dearest dearest dear Albert ... his excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, and we kissed each other again and again! His beauty, his sweetness and gentleness – really how can I ever be Bethankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!” Albert became an important political adviser as well as the Queen's companion. Victoria's mother was evicted from the palace, to Ingestre House in lgrave Square. (Daguerreobase, a2cda6b9-32c3-aa3b-3d1a-93f56fa760ed, 2003-5001/2/28095, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Queen Victoria’s children

This image is hand coloured and contains gold tinted highlights. The case is stamped with a gold crest: MR. CLAUDET over a Royal crest with 107 REGENT STREET below and Hand-coloured daguerreotype of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910), Princess Alice (1843-1878) kneeling before the Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) at Gloucester House. Queen Victoria stands at the centre of the group facing partly right with the Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alice seated to her right holding hands. Albert Edward sits on a chair to the left with his legs crossed, dressed in a white waistcoat and trousers, holding a cane. The daguerreotype is painted with light pastel colours. Queen Victoria, accompanied by two of her children, visited her aunt the Duchess of Gloucester on the 30th of June 1856. In her Journal she recorded that she 'went in the afternoon to Gloucester House and was daguerreotyped with dear Aunt Gloucester, Bertie and Alice, several times.' At least four daguerreotypes were made during this sitting and on Claudet's request a notice was included in the Court Circular on the 2nd of July. The Duchess of Gloucester, the last surviving child of King George III, died the next year on the 30th of April 1857. (Daguerreobase, 6fe50ff4-ee5a-f104-59aa-5c2f78856121, 2932493, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Queen Victoria’s children

This image is hand coloured and contains gold tinted highlights. The case is stamped with a gold crest: MR. CLAUDET over a Royal crest with 107 REGENT STREET below and Hand-coloured daguerreotype of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910), Princess Alice (1843-1878) kneeling before the Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) at Gloucester House. Queen Victoria stands at the centre of the group facing partly right with the Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alice seated to her right holding hands. Albert Edward sits on a chair to the left with his legs crossed, dressed in a white waistcoat and trousers, holding a cane. The daguerreotype is painted with light pastel colours. Queen Victoria, accompanied by two of her children, visited her aunt the Duchess of Gloucester on the 30th of June 1856. In her Journal she recorded that she 'went in the afternoon to Gloucester House and was daguerreotyped with dear Aunt Gloucester, Bertie and Alice, several times.' At least four daguerreotypes were made during this sitting and on Claudet's request a notice was included in the Court Circular on the 2nd of July. The Duchess of Gloucester, the last surviving child of King George III, died the next year on the 30th of April 1857. (Daguerreobase, 6fe50ff4-ee5a-f104-59aa-5c2f78856121, 2932493, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Assassination attempt

Edward Oxford (1822 – 1900) was the first of eight people who tried to assassinate Queen Victoria. During Victoria's first pregnancy in 1840, in the first few months of the marriage, 18-year-old Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate her while she was riding in a carriage with Prince Albert on her way to visit her mother. Oxford fired twice, but either both bullets missed or, as he later claimed, the guns had no shot. He was tried for high treason and found guilty, but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Victoria's popularity decreased. This image symbolised the coronation but gives an impression of the carriage. (Livrustkammaren, Inv. nr. 33260, 69943, Public Domain http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

Assassination attempt

Edward Oxford (1822 – 1900) was the first of eight people who tried to assassinate Queen Victoria. During Victoria's first pregnancy in 1840, in the first few months of the marriage, 18-year-old Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate her while she was riding in a carriage with Prince Albert on her way to visit her mother. Oxford fired twice, but either both bullets missed or, as he later claimed, the guns had no shot. He was tried for high treason and found guilty, but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Victoria's popularity decreased. This image symbolised the coronation but gives an impression of the carriage. (Livrustkammaren, Inv. nr. 33260, 69943, Public Domain http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

The famine Queen

In 1845, Ireland was hit by a potato blight. In the next four years over a million Irish people died and another million emigrated in what became known as the Great Famine. In Ireland, Victoria was labelled "The Famine Queen". She personally donated £2,000 to the British Relief Association, more than any other individual famine relief donor,[81] and also supported the Maynooth Grant to a Roman Catholic seminary in Ireland, despite Protestant opposition. The story that she donated only £5 in aid to the Irish, and on the same day gave the same amount to Battersea Dogs Home, was a myth generated towards the end of the 19th century. This drawing illustrates this story and shows Victoria, giving food to the poor and hungry. (The British Library 000527266_v0p000299, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The famine Queen

In 1845, Ireland was hit by a potato blight. In the next four years over a million Irish people died and another million emigrated in what became known as the Great Famine. In Ireland, Victoria was labelled "The Famine Queen". She personally donated £2,000 to the British Relief Association, more than any other individual famine relief donor,[81] and also supported the Maynooth Grant to a Roman Catholic seminary in Ireland, despite Protestant opposition. The story that she donated only £5 in aid to the Irish, and on the same day gave the same amount to Battersea Dogs Home, was a myth generated towards the end of the 19th century. This drawing illustrates this story and shows Victoria, giving food to the poor and hungry. (The British Library 000527266_v0p000299, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

France and revolutions

Internationally, Victoria took a keen interest in the improvement of the relations between France and Britain. She went on and hosted several visits between the British royal family and the House of Orleans, who were related by marriage through the Coburgs. In 1843 and 1845, she and Albert stayed with King Louis Philippe I at château d'Eu in Normandy; she was the first British or English monarch to visit a French one since the meeting of Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. When Louis Philippe, subject of this painting, made a reciprocal trip in 1844, he became the first French king to visit a British sovereign. Louis Philippe was deposed in the revolutions of 1848, and fled to exile in England. At the height of a revolutionary scare in the United Kingdom in April 1848, Victoria and her family left London for the greater safety of Osborne House. (University of Leuven 008314418)

France and revolutions

Internationally, Victoria took a keen interest in the improvement of the relations between France and Britain. She went on and hosted several visits between the British royal family and the House of Orleans, who were related by marriage through the Coburgs. In 1843 and 1845, she and Albert stayed with King Louis Philippe I at château d'Eu in Normandy; she was the first British or English monarch to visit a French one since the meeting of Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. When Louis Philippe, subject of this painting, made a reciprocal trip in 1844, he became the first French king to visit a British sovereign. Louis Philippe was deposed in the revolutions of 1848, and fled to exile in England. At the height of a revolutionary scare in the United Kingdom in April 1848, Victoria and her family left London for the greater safety of Osborne House. (University of Leuven 008314418)

The Crimean War

This is acoin with both the image of Queen Victoria and Napoleon III of France. Napoleon III, since the Crimean War Britain's closest ally, visited London in April 1855, and from 17 to 28 August the same year Victoria and Albert returned the visit. Napoleon III met the couple at Dunkirk and accompanied them to Paris. They visited the Exposition Universelle (a successor to Albert's 1851 brainchild the Great Exhibition) and Napoleon I's tomb at Les Invalides (to which his remains had only been returned in 1840), and were guests of honour at a ball with 1200 guests at the Palace of Versailles. On 14 January 1858, an Italian refugee from Britain called Orsini attempted to assassinate Napoleon III with a bomb made in England. The ensuing diplomatic crisis destabilised the government. Victoria and Albert attended the opening of a new basin at the French military port of Cherbourg on 5 August 1858, in an attempt by Napoleon III to reassure Britain that his military preparations were directed elsewhere. On her return Victoria wrote to Derby reprimanding him for the poor state of the Royal Navy in comparison to the French one. (Institutul Național al Patrimoniului, 319949 670CE64134AC4C9F9C0A054D9D2A4DB6, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The Crimean War

This is acoin with both the image of Queen Victoria and Napoleon III of France. Napoleon III, since the Crimean War Britain's closest ally, visited London in April 1855, and from 17 to 28 August the same year Victoria and Albert returned the visit. Napoleon III met the couple at Dunkirk and accompanied them to Paris. They visited the Exposition Universelle (a successor to Albert's 1851 brainchild the Great Exhibition) and Napoleon I's tomb at Les Invalides (to which his remains had only been returned in 1840), and were guests of honour at a ball with 1200 guests at the Palace of Versailles. On 14 January 1858, an Italian refugee from Britain called Orsini attempted to assassinate Napoleon III with a bomb made in England. The ensuing diplomatic crisis destabilised the government. Victoria and Albert attended the opening of a new basin at the French military port of Cherbourg on 5 August 1858, in an attempt by Napoleon III to reassure Britain that his military preparations were directed elsewhere. On her return Victoria wrote to Derby reprimanding him for the poor state of the Royal Navy in comparison to the French one. (Institutul Național al Patrimoniului, 319949 670CE64134AC4C9F9C0A054D9D2A4DB6, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Sick at heart

This is a Daguerreotype of Princess Victoria, oldest daughter of queen Victoria (1840-1901) and Princess Alice (1843-1878). Princess Victoria is seated facing partly right and holding a flower. Princess Alice stands beside her to the right with her arm around her sister. In 1858 Victoria's eldest daughter married Prince Frederick William of Prussia in London. They had been betrothed since September 1855, when Princess Victoria was 14 years old; the marriage was delayed by the Queen and Prince Albert until the bride was 17. The Queen and Albert hoped that their daughter and son-in-law would be a liberalising influence in the enlarging Prussian state. Victoria felt "sick at heart" to see her daughter leave England for Germany; "It really makes me shudder", she wrote to Princess Victoria in one of her frequent letters, "when I look round to all your sweet, happy, unconscious sisters, and think I must give them up too – one by one." Almost exactly a year later, Princess Victoria gave birth to the Queen's first grandchild, Wilhelm, who would become the last German Kaiser. (Daguerreobase e78c1da0-151e-4232-f616-5c2f177ee7d0, 2932492, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Sick at heart

This is a Daguerreotype of Princess Victoria, oldest daughter of queen Victoria (1840-1901) and Princess Alice (1843-1878). Princess Victoria is seated facing partly right and holding a flower. Princess Alice stands beside her to the right with her arm around her sister. In 1858 Victoria's eldest daughter married Prince Frederick William of Prussia in London. They had been betrothed since September 1855, when Princess Victoria was 14 years old; the marriage was delayed by the Queen and Prince Albert until the bride was 17. The Queen and Albert hoped that their daughter and son-in-law would be a liberalising influence in the enlarging Prussian state. Victoria felt "sick at heart" to see her daughter leave England for Germany; "It really makes me shudder", she wrote to Princess Victoria in one of her frequent letters, "when I look round to all your sweet, happy, unconscious sisters, and think I must give them up too – one by one." Almost exactly a year later, Princess Victoria gave birth to the Queen's first grandchild, Wilhelm, who would become the last German Kaiser. (Daguerreobase e78c1da0-151e-4232-f616-5c2f177ee7d0, 2932492, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Becoming the Widow of Windsor

In March 1861, Victoria's mother died, with Victoria by her side. Through reading her mother's papers, Victoria discovered that her mother had loved her deeply; she was heart-broken, and blamed Conroy and Lehzen for "wickedly" estranging her from her mother. To relieve his wife during her intense and deep grief, Albert took on most of her duties, despite being ill himself with chronic stomach trouble. In August, Victoria and Albert visited their son, the Prince of Wales, who was attending army manoeuvres near Dublin, and spent a few days holidaying in Killarney. In November, Albert was made aware of gossip that his son had slept with an actress in Ireland. Appalled, Albert travelled to Cambridge, where his son was studying, to confront him. By the beginning of December, Albert was very unwell. He was diagnosed with typhoid fever by William Jenner, and died on 14 December 1861. Victoria was devastated. She blamed her husband's death to the Prince of Wales's philandering. He had been "killed by that dreadful business", she said. She entered a state of mourning and wore black for the rest of her life. She avoided public appearances, and rarely set foot in London in the following years. Her seclusion earned her the nickname "widow of Windsor". (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Becoming the Widow of Windsor

In March 1861, Victoria's mother died, with Victoria by her side. Through reading her mother's papers, Victoria discovered that her mother had loved her deeply; she was heart-broken, and blamed Conroy and Lehzen for "wickedly" estranging her from her mother. To relieve his wife during her intense and deep grief, Albert took on most of her duties, despite being ill himself with chronic stomach trouble. In August, Victoria and Albert visited their son, the Prince of Wales, who was attending army manoeuvres near Dublin, and spent a few days holidaying in Killarney. In November, Albert was made aware of gossip that his son had slept with an actress in Ireland. Appalled, Albert travelled to Cambridge, where his son was studying, to confront him. By the beginning of December, Albert was very unwell. He was diagnosed with typhoid fever by William Jenner, and died on 14 December 1861. Victoria was devastated. She blamed her husband's death to the Prince of Wales's philandering. He had been "killed by that dreadful business", she said. She entered a state of mourning and wore black for the rest of her life. She avoided public appearances, and rarely set foot in London in the following years. Her seclusion earned her the nickname "widow of Windsor". (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Victoria as an Empress

This is a painting of Victoria, the Empress of India and has been taken from scan 000408 from volume 03 of "The Imperial History of England, comprising the entire work of D. Hume. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British East India Company, which had ruled much of India, was dissolved, and Britain's possessions and protectorates on the Indian subcontinent were formally incorporated into the British Empire. The Queen stated to have a relatively balanced view of the conflict, and was said to condemn atrocities on both sides. She wrote of "her feelings of horror and regret at the result of this bloody civil war", and insisted, urged on by Albert, that an official proclamation announcing the transfer of power from the company to the state "should breathe feelings of generosity, benevolence and religious toleration". At her behest, a reference threatening the "undermining of native religions and customs" was replaced by a passage guaranteeing religious freedom. (The British Library 001765236_v03p000408, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Victoria as an Empress

This is a painting of Victoria, the Empress of India and has been taken from scan 000408 from volume 03 of "The Imperial History of England, comprising the entire work of D. Hume. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British East India Company, which had ruled much of India, was dissolved, and Britain's possessions and protectorates on the Indian subcontinent were formally incorporated into the British Empire. The Queen stated to have a relatively balanced view of the conflict, and was said to condemn atrocities on both sides. She wrote of "her feelings of horror and regret at the result of this bloody civil war", and insisted, urged on by Albert, that an official proclamation announcing the transfer of power from the company to the state "should breathe feelings of generosity, benevolence and religious toleration". At her behest, a reference threatening the "undermining of native religions and customs" was replaced by a passage guaranteeing religious freedom. (The British Library 001765236_v03p000408, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The British Empire

Between April 1877 and February 1878, Queen Victoria threatened to abdicate five times while pressuring the prime-minister Disraeli to act against Russia during the Russo-Turkish War, but her threats had no impact on the events or their conclusion at the Congress of Berlin. Disraeli's expansionist foreign policy, which Victoria endorsed, led to conflicts such as the Anglo-Zulu War and the Second Anglo-Afghan War. "If we are to maintain our position as a first-rate Power", she wrote, "we must ... be Prepared for attacks and wars, somewhere or other, continually." Victoria saw the expansion of the British Empire as civilising and benign, protecting native peoples from more aggressive powers or cruel rulers: "It is not in our custom to annexe countries", she said, "unless we are obliged and forced to do so." To Victoria's dismay, Disraeli lost the 1880 general election, and Gladstone returned as prime minister. This image has been taken from scan 000072 from volume 01 of "A Historical Geography of the British Colonies (of the British Empire)” and shows a part of the British Empire. (The British Library 002275791_v01p000072, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The British Empire

Between April 1877 and February 1878, Queen Victoria threatened to abdicate five times while pressuring the prime-minister Disraeli to act against Russia during the Russo-Turkish War, but her threats had no impact on the events or their conclusion at the Congress of Berlin. Disraeli's expansionist foreign policy, which Victoria endorsed, led to conflicts such as the Anglo-Zulu War and the Second Anglo-Afghan War. "If we are to maintain our position as a first-rate Power", she wrote, "we must ... be Prepared for attacks and wars, somewhere or other, continually." Victoria saw the expansion of the British Empire as civilising and benign, protecting native peoples from more aggressive powers or cruel rulers: "It is not in our custom to annexe countries", she said, "unless we are obliged and forced to do so." To Victoria's dismay, Disraeli lost the 1880 general election, and Gladstone returned as prime minister. This image has been taken from scan 000072 from volume 01 of "A Historical Geography of the British Colonies (of the British Empire)” and shows a part of the British Empire. (The British Library 002275791_v01p000072, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Victoria's Golden Jubilee

In 1887, the British Empire celebrated Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Victoria marked the fiftieth anniversary of her accession on 20 June with a banquet to which 50 kings and princes were invited. The following day, she participated in a procession and attended a thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey. By this time, Victoria was once again extremely popular by the British people. Two days later on 23 June, she engaged two Indian Muslims as waiters, one of whom was Abdul Karim. He was soon promoted to "Munshi": teaching her Hindustani, and acting as a clerk. Her family and retainers were appalled, and accused Abdul Karim of spying for the Muslim Patriotic League, biasing the Queen against the Hindu. Equerry Frederick Ponsonby (the son of Sir Henry) discovered that the Munshi had lied about his parentage, and reported to Lord Elgin, Viceroy of India, "the Munshi occupies very much the same position as John Brown used to do." Victoria dismissed their complaints as racial prejudice. Abdul Karim remained in her service until he returned to India with a pension on her death. This cup was created to commemorate Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, made by Doulton in Burslem. Both portraits are of Victoria, left in 1837 and right in 1887. (Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, 57/174, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Victoria's Golden Jubilee

In 1887, the British Empire celebrated Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Victoria marked the fiftieth anniversary of her accession on 20 June with a banquet to which 50 kings and princes were invited. The following day, she participated in a procession and attended a thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey. By this time, Victoria was once again extremely popular by the British people. Two days later on 23 June, she engaged two Indian Muslims as waiters, one of whom was Abdul Karim. He was soon promoted to "Munshi": teaching her Hindustani, and acting as a clerk. Her family and retainers were appalled, and accused Abdul Karim of spying for the Muslim Patriotic League, biasing the Queen against the Hindu. Equerry Frederick Ponsonby (the son of Sir Henry) discovered that the Munshi had lied about his parentage, and reported to Lord Elgin, Viceroy of India, "the Munshi occupies very much the same position as John Brown used to do." Victoria dismissed their complaints as racial prejudice. Abdul Karim remained in her service until he returned to India with a pension on her death. This cup was created to commemorate Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, made by Doulton in Burslem. Both portraits are of Victoria, left in 1837 and right in 1887. (Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, 57/174, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

This source is a portrait from "The Diamond Jubilee" in Cheshire. On 23 September 1896, Victoria surpassed her grandfather George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish, and British history. The Queen requested that any special celebrations be delayed until 1897, to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee, which was made a festival of the British Empire at the suggestion of Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain. The prime ministers of all the self-governing dominions were invited to London for the festivities. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee procession on 22 June 1897 followed a route six miles long through London and included troops from all over the empire. The procession paused for an open-air service of thanksgiving held outside St Paul's Cathedral, throughout which Victoria sat in her open carriage, to avoid her having to climb the steps to enter the building. The celebration was marked by vast crowds of spectators and great outpourings of affection for the 78-year-old Queen. (The British Library 000774325_v0p000067, Public Domain marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

This source is a portrait from "The Diamond Jubilee" in Cheshire. On 23 September 1896, Victoria surpassed her grandfather George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish, and British history. The Queen requested that any special celebrations be delayed until 1897, to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee, which was made a festival of the British Empire at the suggestion of Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain. The prime ministers of all the self-governing dominions were invited to London for the festivities. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee procession on 22 June 1897 followed a route six miles long through London and included troops from all over the empire. The procession paused for an open-air service of thanksgiving held outside St Paul's Cathedral, throughout which Victoria sat in her open carriage, to avoid her having to climb the steps to enter the building. The celebration was marked by vast crowds of spectators and great outpourings of affection for the 78-year-old Queen. (The British Library 000774325_v0p000067, Public Domain marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Boer war

Queen Victoria is presenting flowers to a wounded soldier during a visit to the Herbert hospital. By April 1900, the Boer War was so unpopular on the mainland of Europe that an annual trip of Queen Victoria to France seemed inadvisable. Instead, the Queen went to Ireland for the first time since 1861, partly to acknowledge the contribution of Irish regiments to the South African war. In July, her 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." (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Boer war

Queen Victoria is presenting flowers to a wounded soldier during a visit to the Herbert hospital. By April 1900, the Boer War was so unpopular on the mainland of Europe that an annual trip of Queen Victoria to France seemed inadvisable. Instead, the Queen went to Ireland for the first time since 1861, partly to acknowledge the contribution of Irish regiments to the South African war. In July, her 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." (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Death of Queen Victoria

This painting shows the funeral of Queen Victoria. The Royal Yacht is carrying her body into Portsmouth Harbour, February 1st, 1901. 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, 22 January 1901, at half past six in the evening, at the age of 81. Her son and successor King Edward VII, and her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, were at her deathbed. Her favourite pet Pomeranian, Turri, was laid upon her deathbed as a last request. In 1897, Victoria had written instructions for her funeral, which was to be military as befitting a soldier's daughter and the head of the army, and white instead of black. 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 9 September 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. (Royal Museums Greenwich, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Death of Queen Victoria

This painting shows the funeral of Queen Victoria. The Royal Yacht is carrying her body into Portsmouth Harbour, February 1st, 1901. 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, 22 January 1901, at half past six in the evening, at the age of 81. Her son and successor King Edward VII, and her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, were at her deathbed. Her favourite pet Pomeranian, Turri, was laid upon her deathbed as a last request. In 1897, Victoria had written instructions for her funeral, which was to be military as befitting a soldier's daughter and the head of the army, and white instead of black. 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 9 September 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. (Royal Museums Greenwich, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Succession

Edward VII (9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910. As the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Edward was related to various royal families throughout Europe. Before his accession to the throne, he served as heir apparent and held the title of Prince of Wales for longer than any of his predecessors. During the long reign of his mother, he was largely excluded from political power, and came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite. He travelled throughout Britain performing ceremonial public duties, and represented Britain on visits abroad. His tours of North America in 1860 and the Indian subcontinent in 1875 were popular successes, but despite public approval his reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother. This source is a lithograph of a drunken wet-nurse about to give the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) a drop of alcohol as a horrified Queen Victoria and Prince Albert burst in on the scene. (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Succession

Edward VII (9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910. As the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Edward was related to various royal families throughout Europe. Before his accession to the throne, he served as heir apparent and held the title of Prince of Wales for longer than any of his predecessors. During the long reign of his mother, he was largely excluded from political power, and came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite. He travelled throughout Britain performing ceremonial public duties, and represented Britain on visits abroad. His tours of North America in 1860 and the Indian subcontinent in 1875 were popular successes, but despite public approval his reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother. This source is a lithograph of a drunken wet-nurse about to give the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) a drop of alcohol as a horrified Queen Victoria and Prince Albert burst in on the scene. (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Legacy

Victoria was physically unprepossessing—she was stout, dowdy and no more than five feet tall—but she succeeded in projecting a grand image. She experienced unpopularity during the first years of her widowhood, but was in general well liked during the 1880s and 1890s, when she embodied the empire as a benevolent matriarchal figure. Only after the release of her diary and letters did the extent of her political influence become known to the wider public. Biographies of Victoria written before much of the primary material became available, such as Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria of 1921, are now considered out of date. The biographies written by Elizabeth Longford and Cecil Woodham-Smith, in 1964 and 1972 respectively, are still widely admired. They, and others, conclude that as a person Victoria was emotional, obstinate, honest, and straight-talking. Through Victoria's reign, the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy in Britain continued. Reforms of the voting system increased the power of the House of Commons at the expense of the House of Lords and the monarch. In 1867, Walter Bagehot wrote that the monarch only retained "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn". As Victoria's monarchy became more symbolic than political, it placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values, in contrast to the sexual, financial and personal scandals that had been associated with previous members of the House of Hanover and which had discredited the monarchy. The concept of the "family monarchy", with which the burgeoning middle classes could identify, was solidified. This is a wood engraving of St. Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth. It shows the entrance hall with a statue of Queen Victoria. (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Legacy

Victoria was physically unprepossessing—she was stout, dowdy and no more than five feet tall—but she succeeded in projecting a grand image. She experienced unpopularity during the first years of her widowhood, but was in general well liked during the 1880s and 1890s, when she embodied the empire as a benevolent matriarchal figure. Only after the release of her diary and letters did the extent of her political influence become known to the wider public. Biographies of Victoria written before much of the primary material became available, such as Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria of 1921, are now considered out of date. The biographies written by Elizabeth Longford and Cecil Woodham-Smith, in 1964 and 1972 respectively, are still widely admired. They, and others, conclude that as a person Victoria was emotional, obstinate, honest, and straight-talking. Through Victoria's reign, the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy in Britain continued. Reforms of the voting system increased the power of the House of Commons at the expense of the House of Lords and the monarch. In 1867, Walter Bagehot wrote that the monarch only retained "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn". As Victoria's monarchy became more symbolic than political, it placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values, in contrast to the sexual, financial and personal scandals that had been associated with previous members of the House of Hanover and which had discredited the monarchy. The concept of the "family monarchy", with which the burgeoning middle classes could identify, was solidified. This is a wood engraving of St. Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth. It shows the entrance hall with a statue of Queen Victoria. (The Wellcome Library, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)