Queen Victoria: The Grandmother of Europe
Do you have royal blood? On this day in 1819, Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace in London. One of the longest reigning monarchs in British history, Victoria’s strategic marriage of her nine children to royal and noble families across Europe earned her the nickname, “the Grandmother of Europe.”
Image: Library of Congress
In honor of her birthday, here are some interesting facts about Queen Victoria:
At birth, she was fifth in the line of succession, after her father and his three older brothers. In 1820, her grandfather and her father died within a week of each other and seven years later, her uncle, the Duke of York, passed of dropsy. Upon the death of her uncle King George IV in 1830, Victoria became heiress presumptive to her next surviving uncle, William IV.
2. She had an unhappy childhood.
Victoria was raised under the “Kensington System,” which were a series of strict rules designed by her mother and her attendant, Sir John Conroy. She lived by a strict daily schedule isolated from other children and she was never allowed to be apart from her mother. Victoria detested the system, and upon becoming queen, her first request was to be allowed an hour alone.
3. At the age of 18, she succeeded to throne.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Her coronation took place on June 28, 1838 at Westminster Abbey. An estimated crowd of 400,000 people came to witness the procession. Victoria’s coronation ceremony was a bit chaotic and the entire service would last five hours.
4. She married her first cousin, Prince Albert.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Since she was Queen, Victoria proposed to Albert on October 15, 1839. They were married the following year and together, had nine children. Did you know the tradition of wearing a white wedding dress is said to have originated with Queen Victoria? Until then, women often wore their best dress to get married. But for her wedding, Victoria chose to wear a white dress, an unusual choice for the time.
5. She survived 8 assassination attempts during her lifetime.
Many of these attempts occurred while she was traveling in an open carriage.
6. The death of Prince Albert plunged Victoria into deep mourning.
Image: National Media Museum, Flickr
After returning from a visit with their son, the Prince of Wales, Albert fell ill. He died of typhoid fever on December 14, 1861. Victoria fell into a deep depression and blamed her son for her husband’s death. She avoided public appearances and dressed only in black for the rest of her life.
7. Of her 42 grandchildren, 34 would survive to adulthood.
The strategic marriage of her nine children to various royal and noble families led to close ties across Europe. She would become known as “the Grandmother of Europe.”
8. Victoria was a carrier of the gene that causes hemophilia.
Often called the “Royal disease,” hemophilia is a blood clotting disorder caused by a mutation in the X chromosome. Her youngest son, Leopold, suffered from hemophilia, while two of her daughters were carriers. Her great grandson, Alexei Romanov of Russia, also suffered from the disease.
9. Victoria reigned for 63 years, 7 months and 2 days.
The Victorian Era is often remembered as a period of great growth and an expansion of the British Empire. Victoria held the record of the longest reigning monarch in British history until September 2015 when her second great granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, finally surpassed her record.
10. She died on January 22, 1901 at the age of 81.
Image: Gill Hicks, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Her son and successor, King Edward VII, and her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, were at her deathbed. The last British monarch from the House of Hanover, Victoria was interred at Windsor beside Prince Albert in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum. Above the mausoleum door are inscribed Victoria’s words, “Farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in christ I shall rise again.”