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Named Alexandrina Victoria after her godfather, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, Victoria was born on May 24th, 1819 in Kensington Palace, London.
Daughter of Edward, the Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III, and Princess Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg (sister of King Leopold of Belgium).
Her father, Edward, died when she was 8 months old upon whereupon she became heir to the throne as her three uncles who were ahead of her in succession had no ligitamate children of their own.
As a child she was educated at home by a governess and was particularly talented at drawing and painting. She became Queen when William IV died in 1837, at the age of 18 and ruled for 64 years.
When Victoria became queen, Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister and Victoria became very fond of him and dependant on him for political advice. Melbourne was 58 years old, a widower and had lost his only child and it is said he treated Victoria like a daughter. He was very protective of her and Apparently even advised her not to read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens because it dealt with "paupers, criminals and other unpleasant subjects". melbourne was said to spend 6 hours a day with the queen and also had his own apartment at Windsor Castle. In her diaries Queen Victoria wrote: "he is such an honest, good kind-hearted man and is my friend, I know it."
The Queen loved listening to him talk and in her diaries she wrote of him: "Such stories of knowledge; such a wonderful memory; he knows about everybody and everything; who they were and what they did. He has such a kind and agreeable manner; he does me the world of good."
Of course rumours were aripe of Victoria marrying Melbourne and the papers wrote about their relationship.
In February 1840, Queen Victoria married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. He had visited London in 1839 and Victoria had immediately fallen in love with him. During the next 17 years they had 9 children together.
In December 1861, Queen Victoria's devoted husband, Prince Albert, died of typhoid at the age of 42 and Victoria sank into depression. For the rest of her reign she wore black.
Never neglecting her official Correspondence, Victoria withdrew from public view until the latter part of the 1860's, spending much of her time up at her home Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands where she befriended and became very close to the Scottish servant John Brown.
In 1866 and 1867, She was persuaded to open Parliament but was widely criticised for living in seclusion and quite a strong republican movement developed. 7 attempts were made on her life between 1840 and 1882 but her courage towards these attacks strengthened her popularity. By 1880 Queen Victoria had fully resumed her public duties, due mainly to her family and the Benjamin Disraeli, who was prime minister from 1874 to 1880.
Victoria liked Disraeli and his charm. He was quoted as saying "Everyone likes flattery, and when you come to royalty, you should lay it on thick with a trowel." William Gladstone replaced Disraeli as Prime Minister in 1880. Disraeli died the following year and Victoria wrote to his secretary telling her that she could not stop crying.
Victoria had a strained relationship with premier Gladstone as they had very different views of foreign policies. She sent a telegram to Gladstone criticizing his failure to take action to save General Gordon at Khartoum. The telegram was uncoded and as a result it became public knowledge that Queen Victoria disapproved of Gladstone's foreign policies. Gladstone believed that britain should not support a cause that was morally wrong, but Victoria disagreed, taking the view that not to pursue Britain's best interest was misguided and close to treachery. In 1885 the Marquess of Salisbury became Prime Minister and remained so for twelve of the last 15 years of Queen Victoria's reign. She shared his more imperialist views and was closer to him, her last Prime Minister. She supported actions against the Boers in South Africa, a war which overshadowed the end of her reign. She visited hospitals and was not concerned about British retreats being quoted as saying 'We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.'
Thanks to the improvements during her time to such things as transport, the development of newspapers and photography, Queen Victoria was seen on an unprecedented scale and was the first reining Monarch to travel by train, taking her first journey. Queen Victoria was part of Britain's great age when Great britain was said to have a world wide empire so vast that the sun never set. She was also almost the symbol of the Empire and kept up her duties til the end with a visit to Dublin in 1900.
Victoria died on 22 January 1901 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Her reign had lasted almost 64 years which is the longest in British history.
She was buried beside her beloved Prince Albert at Windsor, in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum which she had built as their final resting place.
Above the Mausoleum door are the inscribed words of Victoria:
'farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again'.
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