Queen Victoria (born in 1819) ruled over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from the age of 18 until her death in 1901. She was also the Empress of India from 1876 to her death. She was the last Hanoverian monarch and saw many changes and modernisations to the traditions surrounding the Royal Family. Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, her consort and a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, whose surname she adopted as one would expect of a married woman of the time, is the monarch who introduced many of the Royal traditions and ways of dealing with the Royal Family that we know today. She had nine children, who went on to enter many European Royal families, so Queen Victoria’s descendants can be seen in royal families throughout Europe, making several members at least distant cousins.
Queen Victoria first learned of her destiny to become Queen when she was ten or so, taught history by her tutors. Even as a young girl, Victoria had an earnest desire to be a good Queen.
Her lineage stretches far back into the British Royal family. In 1817, Princess Charlotte died leaving no legitimate heir to the throne, despite George III having had fifteen children. Therefore, the dukes of Cambridge, Clarence and Kent all quickly married and attempted to be the first to produce a legitimate heir. The Duke of Kent was the first to produce a child, Alexandrina Victoria (later to be Queen Victoria). Upon his death, George IV came to the throne in 1820, making Victoria third in line to throne. The Duke of York died in 1827 and the Duke of Clarence later became William IV. His children did not survive infancy and so Victoria came to the throne.
Victoria felt, in terms of the aristocracy and royalty, that her upbringing was very simple. She spent most of her early life at Kensington Palace, with her German mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her half sister, Féodore, and a German governess. Without a father from an early age, her Uncle Leopold, was very significant to her and they lived together until he succeeded to the Belgian monarchy in 1831.
Victoria’s childhood was marred by the scheming of Sir John Conroy to seize power with Victoria’s mother, the Duchess. Victoria was isolated from her beloved uncles and others who might fight against Conroy’s influence. However, Victoria remained strong-willed. At her accession to the throne in 1837 when King William IV died, she rejected their guidance and control. She became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland but lost control of Hanover, whose laws did not permit a female monarch. Queen Victoria and her mother moved into Buckingham Palace but the Duchess was banished to a remote apartment as Queen Victoria was determined to rule in her own right.
She later married her cousin, Prince Albert. Having initially been determined she would rule alone and that Albert was to have no part in politics, she grew to depend on him and his political and diplomatic brain and she did so throughout their marriage, in which she bore nine children who married into many of the European Royal houses.