10 Things to Know About Queen Victoria’s Last Days and Death
Few people had been able to consider the mortality of the monarch who had ruled over Britain and its empire for nearly 64 years when she passed away on January 22, 1901, at the age of 81, shocking her family, court, and subjects.
Her passing meant the end of the Victorian era. Let’s look at Queen Victoria’s dying moments, the frantic planning for her state burial on February 2, 1901, and the things you need to know about her last days.
1. Her health deteriorated after her husband passed away
Throughout her life, Queen Victoria experienced a number of health problems. She went through a time of grieving after losing her beloved husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. Because of the loneliness that she experienced she struggled with rheumatism, stomach problems as well as other health problems that worsened as she grew older, old age without a doubt made her more vulnerable.
As her health issue grew she decided to withdraw from public life and spent her latter years in the seclusion of her home, especially Osborne House.
2. Queen Victoria celebrated 50 years on the throne
In 1887, Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee which marked her 50 years as monarch. The celebrations served as a symbol of both her popularity as well as the country’s admiration for her, it was a very important season in her reign. Many of her subjects were happy to see her which is probably why she had a 60-year reign.
3. Queen Victoria had left instructions on how she wanted her funeral
When it came to her funeral wishes, Queen Victoria left down some specific instructions. These include certain items she wanted in her coffin. Several of the items belonged to her beloved husband Albert, who had passed away in 1861.
On January 25, Dr. Reid placed the mementoes Queen Victoria had requested—dressing Albert’s gown, a plaster cast of his hand, and pictures—carefully inside the bottom of her casket. Following that, her son Albert (the new king), her grandson William (the German Kaiser), and her son Arthur assisted in lifting Queen Victoria’s body into the coffin (the Duke of Connaught).
4. Months before she died she had several strokes
Queen Victoria’s health has been deteriorating for several months. She had lost her appetite and had begun to appear pale and weak. She was more easily fatigued and frequently experienced confusion.
The queen’s health then continued to worsen on January 17. Dr. James Reid, her personal doctor, noted that the left side of her face was drooping when she awoke. She had also developed a little slur in her speaking. She had experienced one of several little strokes. The condition of the queen had deteriorated by the next day. She spent the entire day in bed, not recognizing who was sitting by her side.
5. During her last days, Queen Victoria was surrounded by her family
On January 19, early in the morning, Queen Victoria appeared to get better. Dr. Reid responded to her inquiry by stating that she was better. But she shortly fell asleep once more.
Dr. Reid realised Queen Victoria was passing away. He called her grandkids and her children. At the Osborne House on the Island of Wight at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 22, Queen Victoria passed away surrounded by her family.
6. The queen requested a military funeral
Queen Victoria had asked for a military funeral, so her coffin was transported from Victoria to Paddington by gun carriage. The gun carriage was drawn by eight white horses because she had also requested a white funeral.
Several onlookers gathered in the streets along the queen’s burial path to catch one final look at her. Everyone stayed silent as the carriage raced by. The queen’s casket was transported to Windsor by train after being placed on a train at Paddington. Once more, the coffin was transported to Windsor in a gun carriage drawn by white horses.
7. Victoria had refused to be embalmed
A local carpenter built the royal coffin and delivered it to Osborne House. The queen was prepared for her funeral by Doctor Reid with assistance from Mrs Tuck, the queen’s faithful dresser. In order to fight the odour and absorb the moisture, they scattered charcoal on the coffin’s floor because the queen had refused to be embalmed.
Her hair was chopped off, she wore a white silk dressing gown with a garter ribbon and star, and they covered her face with her wedding veil. To help with lifting her body into the coffin, they called upon the royal dukes, the kaiser, and the new king.
8. The funeral had cost £35,500 (£4.5 million)
£35,500 (£4.5 million) had been spent on the funeral. The Westminster Gazette mentioned that the queen had outlived every Privy Council member who was alive in 1837, every peer who had held their titles in 1837 (with the exception of Earl Nelson, who was 14 at the time), and every Commons member who had been a member of the House of Commons at the time of her accession.
She witnessed the succession of seven republican presidents, one king, five archbishops of Canterbury, six commanders-in-chief, 11 viceroys of Canada, 16 viceroys of India, and 10 prime ministers, five archbishops of Canterbury, and 18 presidents of the United States. All nine of her bridesmaids had likewise outlived her.
9. Her eldest son, Edward VII (9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) became king
The Edwardian period began when Queen Victoria passed away and her eldest son, Edward VII (9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910), took over the throne.
Bertie, as he was known, was a famous socialite before becoming king. There are estimates that he may have up to 55 mistresses. Victoria was quite offended by Edward’s persona because she believed he was defaming the royal family.
10. Queen Victoria’s coffin was taken by gun carriage to Frogmore Mausoleum
Queen Victoria built the Frogmore Mausoleum for her husband Albert after he passed away, and on the evening of February 4, her coffin was transported there by gun carriage. Queen Victoria penned the following inscription over the mausoleum’s doors: “Vale desideratissime. Farewell most beloved. Here at length, I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again.”
A long period of national mourning was sparked by the passing of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901. The British people were greatly affected by the loss of the Queen, who symbolised the end of an era.
Throughout the long period of mourning, which lasted for several months, many people around the country paid their respects. Funerals were held, buildings were covered with black drapes and public events were cancelled or scaled back.