Queen Victoria was the Queen of England from 1837-1901, and her almost 64 year reign was the longest in British history. She also had a huge influence over British society and history, presiding over the glory days of the British Empire as well as the Industrial Revolution. She is probably one of the most well-known British monarchs, and numerous memorials to her are scattered across the globe, from museums named after her to statues in town squares.
Victoria was born in 1819, and at the time of her birth, she was fifth in line for the British throne. However, her uncles all died without having children, leaving her the heir apparent, and she ascended to the throne barely a month after turning 18. At the time of her accession, Queen Victoria startled a number of people in the government by being extremely headstrong and forthright, removing people she disliked from court and supporting those she did like.
This British queen was highly educated and very opinionated, with firm ideas about the future of British society and the British Empire. In the early years of her reign, Queen Victoria was heavily influenced by Lord Melbourne, who acted as Prime Minister, although Melbourne was displaced when Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840.
By all accounts, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a very loving relationship. The two had nine children, and clearly cared for each other deeply. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was devastated, going into a period of intense mourning which lasted for the rest of her life. She became known as the “Widow of Windsor,” choosing to wear black for the rest of her life and rarely emerging into society during the 1860s.
During her reign, Queen Victoria saw a number of changes. The power of the monarch was greatly diminished during the Victorian Era, and Victoria learned to adapt to her role as a constitutional monarch, establishing a role for the royal family which included charity, engagement in social and public issues, and regular meetings with members of government to follow ongoing events. Her influence on the monarchy and on British society was quite extensive.
After her death in 1901, Queen Victoria was buried in Windsor next to her beloved Prince Albert, and her son Edward VII succeeded her.