British History 2:
From the French Revolution to World War II
Topic: "Majesties and Royal Highnesses"

by Laura Cenicola & Mareike Aumann

Glossary: Victoria

Political Career:

At the age of 18 Victoria inherited the throne from her uncle William IV and her reign dominated the rest of the century. She was the longest reigning British monarch and oversaw vast changes in British society. Victoria gave her name to an age. Since the Reform Act of 1832 the monarchs in Britain did not have actual influence on political decisions. Legislative authority was given to the House of Lords, and executive authority resided within a cabinet of members in the House of Commons. She wanted to be informed about political matters. Victoria appreciated the Whig Prime Minister in office, Lord Melbourne as a political mentor. Her husband Prince Albert also had a considerable amount of influence, from both men she learned how be the head of a 'constitutional monarchy' in which the monarch had a marginal amount of power but could still exert a lot of influence. During Albert's lifetime she was most active as a ruler of the United Kingdom. Victoria withdrew herself from public for the most part, her popularity suffered from that. In 1857, after the Indian Munity, the Indian government was given from the East Indian Company to the Crown. Consequently in 1877 Victoria was pronounced Empress of India. The British Empire included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and several parts of Africa. During this period, Britain was involved in European affairs. On the whole, during Victoria's reign the face of Great Britain changed tremendously: the British government went through a revolution, industry expanded a great deal and the empire grew adding up territory around the world.

Personal Life:

Victoria was born at Kensington Palace in London, on May 24th 1819. She was the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III, and Victoria Maria Louise of Saxe-Coburg. When her father died shortly after her birth, she became heir of the throne because neither of her three uncles had legitimate children who survived. She was a warmhearted and lovely person, and a talented and gifted artist, loving to draw and paint. Victoria was educated at home, by her governess. She kept a regular journal throughout her life. In 1840, Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. The two of them lived in a happy marriage and had nine children, four sons and five daughters. The bond between Victoria and her husband was very strong. When Albert died in 1861, she sank into depression; she had not only lost her husband but also a very trustworthy adviser in state affairs. From that moment on Victoria was rarely seen in public, from which her popularity suffered a great deal also she was only wore black clothes for the rest of her reign.
Victoria's Golden Jubilee, in 1887, and the Diamond Jubilee, following in 1897, were greatly celebrated throughout the entire country, these events brought her back to public life.
Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight on January 22nd 1901.



Back to previous page