Top 10 Facts about Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria is an inspiration to many girls in the world. She is an iconic lady who was able to rule over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for more than 60 years. She was hailed by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India and given many more titles. Her name even denotes an entire era of Great Britain.
She was born on 24th May 1819 and was not expected to ever rule. However, she ascended to rule over the world’s largest empire on 20th June 1837. This era-defining figure who’s mostly depicted as being stern and strict person actually had other less rigid character traits. Here are 10 things you should know about Queen Victoria.
1. Her first name wasn’t Victoria.
Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace as Alexandrina Victoria. At birth, she was fifth in line of succession for the British crown. She was named after her godfather, Tsar Alexander I. As a child she was nicknamed Drina.
She preferred to go by her middle name and when she was crowned Queen she started using the name Victoria. The name Victoria became known worldwide and even represents an era of great change in human advancements, the Victorian era.
2. She had an unhappy childhood.
Kensington Palace proved to be more of a prison to the young Victoria where she was kept isolated from the royal court. She was not permitted to attend King William’s coronation as Victoria’s mother had a hostile relationship with him. Sir John Conroy, an adviser to Victoria’s mother, keep tight control of the princess.
Victoria’s father died of pneumonia when she was just eight months old leaving her to the mercy of John Conroy and her mother. The two came up with the ‘Kensington System’, a stifling code of discipline that Victoria had to follow. It meant that the future spent little to no time with her age mates and was in constant adult supervision. This can explain why she left Kensington Palace when she became queen.
3. She became Queen when she was only 18.
This is how Queen Victoria recounts the life-changing moment, “I went into my sitting room (only in my dressing gown) alone and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at twelve minutes past two this morning and consequently that I was Queen.” This happened less than a month after Victoria turned 18.
Victoria took up her new responsibilities with remarkable confidence despite not being destined for the throne; as the only child of King George III’ fourth son, Edward the Duke of Kent, she was fifth in line to the throne. Over the years the death of her father, his brothers and any other legitimate heirs left the young princess as King William IV’s closest surviving heirs of the throne.
4. She was multilingual.
From a young age, Victoria could speak fluent English and German, as her mother was German. It is rumored that at one stage she even had a German accent, which had to be erased by tutors. After her marriage, she was heard frequently speaking to her German husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Victoria proved to be a quick linguist learner maybe perhaps due to the strict schooling under the ‘Kensington system’ she was able to also learn French, Italian and Latin. Later in life when servants from India arrived at Windsor Castle in 1877, Abdul Karim, her attendant, taught her many phrases in Hindu and Urdu. She wrote in her diary, “I am learning a few words of Hindustani to speak to my servants.”
5. She proposed to Prince Albert.
Talk about going after what you want. Queen Elizabeth was mesmerized and taken by Albert’s charm from the first time she saw him. It was love at first sight for Victoria. The two first met when Elizabeth was only 16 years and continued a four-year relationship between flirting and friendship. Albert was Victoria’s first cousin.
Victoria had no choice but to propose to Albert because according to tradition, a man could not propose to the queen. The marriage proposal went on as follows according to Victoria’s diary; she summoned him and met with him alone in a private room. She assured him that his acceptance of her proposal that they marry would delight her. Victoria confessed, “We embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind, so affectionate.”
The two got married on 15th October 1839 in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace in London. After their wedding night, Queen Victoria wrote in her diary, “I never, never spent such an evening!! My dearest dear Albert … his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before!”
6. She had her wedding dress pattern destroyed.
We all here of how brides change to bridezillas during their wedding but Victoria took it to a whole new level. On the wedding day, the bride always wants to be the center of attraction and Victoria was no exception. She ordered all who were attending her wedding not to wear white so that they don’t draw any attention from her and her majestic gown.
The queen’s dress was an off-the-shoulder white satin gown adorned with lace. The queen didn’t want anyone to ever replicate her dress pattern and thus ordered the destruction of the gown’s pattern. However, some of her wedding choices ended up being replicated and being wedding tradition such as wearing a white gown which was uncommon during her time.
7. She survived at multiple assassination attempts.
Queen Victoria was truly a survivor, she was able to survive at least six serious unsuccessful attempts on her life, a notorious teenage stalker dubbed ‘The Boy Jones’ by newspapers and between 1838 and 1841 Edward Jones who broke into the palace several times.
The first serious attempt on Victoria’s life came when she was four months pregnant with her first child in 1840. Edward Oxford fired at the Queen’s carriage while on an evening ride with Prince Albert. Edward was apprehended and trailed for high treason for this crime. He was found not guilty of reasons of insanity.
There were several more attempts on the queen’s life; Two men tried to shot her in 1842, in 1849 William Hamilton attacked the Queen’s carriage, In 1850 Robert Pate struck the queen with an iron-tipped cane on the head and in 1882 Roderick Maclean shot at the queen’s carriage as it left the Windsor train station.
8. Queen Victoria is known as the ‘Grandmother of Europe.
Albert and Victoria were blessed with nine children in their 21-year marriage. Some children were married off into Europe monarchies to extend and strengthen the allegiances of Great Britain. Over time Victoria had 42 grandchildren in the royal families throughout Europe such as Germany, Spain, Norway, Russia, Greece, Sweden, and Romania.
It is believed that if Queen Victoria was still alive World War I could have been avoided. This is because warring royals were Kaiser Wilhelm (German), Tsarina Alexandra (Russia) and George V (Britain) were all the grandchildren of Victoria. Kaiser Wilhelm reportedly remarked that if his grandmother was alive she simply would not have allowed her relatives to go to war with one another.
9. Many places around the world named after her.
Victoria became a household name throughout the world and as a result, many places around the world were named after her. The queen inspired Lake Victoria in Kenya, Victoria falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, The states of Queensland and Victoria in Australia, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and many more cities, towns, schools and parks are named after her.
Canada is the only country in the world to celebrate Queen Victoria with a holiday. In 1845, Canadian officials declared May 24th, Victoria’s birthday, a national holiday. Today the holiday is observed on Monday that falls before May 24th.
10. Victoria mourned Albert for almost 40 years.
On 14th December 1861 when Victoria was only 42 years Albert died from typhoid fever. Upon Albert’s death, Victoria wore only black and withdrew from her public duties. It is only in the 1870s that she resumed her public duties after her citizens’ become to lose patience with her.
Victoria blamed their son Edward for Albert’s death. This is because Edward’s rumored relationship with an Ireland actress worried Albert so much. For 40 years Victoria dressed in black to reflect the deep mourning and sadness she felt. She was often referred to as the Widow of Windsor.