Victoria was the daughter of Edward, the Duke of Kent and Princess Victoria of
She was born in Kensington Palace in London on May 24th, 1819.
Edward died when Victoria was but eight months old, upon which her mother enacted
a strict regimen that shunned the courts of Victoria's uncles, George IV and William IV.
In 1837 Queen Victoria took the throne after the death of her uncle William IV. Due to her secluded childhood, she displayed a personality marked by strong prejudices and a willful stubbornness.
Barely eighteen, she refused any further influence from her domineering mother and
ruled in her own stead. Popular respect for the Crown was at a low point at her
coronation, but the modest and straightforward young Queen won the hearts of her subjects.
She wished to be informed of political matters, although she had no direct input in policy
decisions. The Reform Act of 1832 had set the standard of legislative authority residing
in the House of Lords, with executive authority resting within a cabinet
formed of members of the House of Commons; the monarch was essentially removed from the
loop. She respected and worked well with Lord Melbourne (Prime Minister in the early years
of her reign) and England grew both socially and economically.
Prince Albert replaced Melbourne as the dominant male influence in Victoria's life. She was thoroughly devoted to him, and completely submitted to his will. Victoria did nothing without her husband's approval. Albert assisted in her royal duties. He introduced a strict decorum in court and made a point of straitlaced behavior. Albert also gave a more conservative tinge to Victorias politics. If Victoria was to insistently interject her opinions and make her views felt in the cabinet, it was only because of Alberts teachings of hard work.
The general public, however, was not enamored with the German prince; he was excluded from holding any official political position, was never granted a title of peerage and was named Prince Consort only after seventeen years of marriage.. His interests in art, science, and industry spurred him to organize the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, a highly profitable industrial convention. He used the proceeds, some £186,000, to purchase lands in Kensington for the establishment of several cultural and industrial museums.
Her popularity was at its lowest by 1870, but it steadily increased thereafter until her death. In 1876 she was crowned Empress of India by Disraeli. In 1887 Victorias Golden Jubilee was a grand national celebration of her 50th year as Queen. The Golden Jubilee brought her out of her shell, and she once again embraced public life. She toured English possessions and even visited France (the first English monarch to do so since the coronation of Henry VI in 1431).
Victoria's long reign witnessed an evolution in English politics and the expansion of the British Empire, as well as political and social reforms on the continent. France had known two dynasties and embraced Republicanism, Spain had seen three monarchs and both Italy and Germany had united their separate principalities into national coalitions. Even in her dotage, she maintained a youthful energy and optimism that infected the English population as a whole.
The national pride connected with the name of Victoria - the term Victorian England, for example, stemmed from the Queen's ethics and personal tastes, which generally reflected those of the middle class.