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Victoria ( 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was the Queen regnant of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837, and the first Empress of India of the British Raj from 1 May 1876, until her death. Her reign as the Queen lasted 63 years and 7 months, longer than that of any other British monarch before or since, and her reign is the longest of any female monarch in history.
The time of her reign is known as the Victorian era, a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military progress within the United Kingdom. Victoria’s reign was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. During this period, it reached its zenith and became the foremost global power of the time. She arranged marriages for her 9 children and 42 grandchildren across the continent, tying Europe together and earning her the nickname “the grandmother of Europe”. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover.
Victoria was born in Kensington Palace in 1819. At the time of her birth, her grandfather, George III, was on the throne, but his three eldest sons, had no surviving legitimate children. Victoria later described her childhood as “rather melancholy”. Victoria’s mother was extremely protective of the princess, who was raised in near isolation under the elaborate set of rules and protocols.
On 24 May 1837 Victoria turned 18, and in June she became Queen of the United Kingdom.
Princess Victoria first met her future husband, her first cousin Prince Albert when she was just seventeen in 1836. Some authors have written that she initially found Albert to be rather dull. However according to her diary, she enjoyed his company from the beginning. They were married on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace, London. Albert became not only the Queen’s companion, but an important political advisor. They had nine children and the marriage was rather successful. The Prince Consort died of typhoid fever on 14 December 1861, due to the primitive sanitary conditions at Windsor Castle. His death devastated Victoria, who was still affected by the death of her mother in March of that year.She entered a state of mourning and wore black for the remainder of her life. She avoided public appearances, and rarely set foot in London in the following years. Her seclusion earned her the name “Widow of Windsor.”
Queen Victoria’s reign marked the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy. A series of legal reforms saw the House of Commons’ power increase, at the expense of the House of Lords and the monarchy, with the monarch’s role becoming gradually more symbolic. Victoria’s reign created for Britain the concept of the “family monarchy” with which the burgeoning middle classes could identify.