Victoria (1819-1901) was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837–1901) and empress of India (1876–1901). She was the last of the House of Hanover and gave her name to an era, the Victorian Age. During her reign the English monarchy took on its modern ceremonial character. She and her husband, Prince Consort Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, had nine children, through whose marriages were descended many of the royal families of Europe.
British royalty. Queen of Great Britain (1837–1901) and (from 1876) Empress of India, born in London, United Kingdom, the only child of George III’s fourth son, Edward, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, King of the Belgians. Taught by Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister, she had a clear grasp of constitutional principles and the scope of her own prerogative, which she resolutely exercised in 1839 by setting aside the precedent which decreed dismissal of the current ladies of the bedchamber, thus causing Peel not to take up office as prime minister. In 1840 she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and had four sons and five daughters.
Strongly influenced by her husband, with whom she worked in closest harmony, after his death (1861) she went into lengthy seclusion, neglecting many duties, which brought her unpopularity and motivated a republican movement. But with her recognition as Empress of India, and the celebratory golden (1887) and diamond (1897) jubilees, she rose high in her subjects’ favor, and increased the prestige of the monarchy. She had strong preferences for certain prime ministers (notably Melbourne and Disraeli) over others (notably Peel and Gladstone), but following the advice of Albert did not press these beyond the bounds of constitutional propriety. At various points in her long reign she exercised some influence over foreign affairs, and the marriages of her children had important diplomatic, as well as dynastic implications in Europe.
She died at Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, UK, and was succeeded by her son as Edward VII. Her reign, the longest in English history, saw advances in industry, science (Darwin’s theory of evolution), communications (the telegraph, popular press), and other forms of technology; the building of the railways and the London Underground, sewers, and power distribution networks; bridges and other engineering feats; a vast number of inventions; a greatly expanded empire; unequal growth of wealth, with class differences to the fore; tremendous poverty; increase in urban populations, with the growth of great cities like Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham; increased literacy; and great civic works, often funded by industrial philanthropists.