- Published: 03 July 2008
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Julie Eaton, age 16, of Billings, Mont., for her question:
HOW LONG DID QUEEN VICTORIA REIGN?
Victoria, whose full name was Alexandria Victoria, reigned as queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for almost 64 years from 1837 until 1901. She also had the added title of empress of India from 1876 until 1901.
Victoria's father was the Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III and youngest brother of George IV and William IV, kings of Great Britain. Because William IV had no legitimate children, his niece Victoria became heir apparent to the British crown upon his accession in 1830.
On June 20, 1837, with the death of William IV, Victoria became queen at the age of 18.
Early in her reign Victoria developed a serious concern with affairs of state, guided by her first prime minister, William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne. Melbourne was the leader of that wing of the Whig party that later became known as the Liberal party. He exercised a strongly progressive influence on the political thinking of the queen.
In 1840, when she was 21, Victoria was married to her first cousin, Albert. Although this was a marriage of state, it was a highly romantic and successful one, and Victoria was devoted to her domestic responsibilities.
The first of their nine children was Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise, who later became empress of Germany. Their first son, Albert Edward, prince of Wales, later became king of Great Britain as Edward VII.
Victoria's popularity reached its height in the last two decades of her reign and it was shared by all classes in British society. Her golden jubilee in 1887 and her diamond jubilee in 1897 were occasions for great public rejoicing. Her subjects were then enjoying an unprecedented period of prosperous complacency and her enthusiastic execution of the Boer War increased her appeal at home and abroad.
Victoria died on Jan. 22, 1901, in the 64th year of her reign. It was the longest reign in the history of England. Her descendants, including 40 grandchildren, married into almost every royal family in Europe.
With her personal example of honesty, patriotism and devotion to family life, Victoria became a living symbol of the solidity of the British Empire. The many years of her reign, often referred to as the Victorian age, witnessed the rise of the middle class and were marked by a deeply conservative morality and intense nationalism.
Edward VII, Victoria's oldest son, became King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1901. He married Princess Alexandria, daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. Then Edward VIPs son, George Frederick, became King George V when he died in 1910.
George V, Victoria's grandson, reigned as king until 1936. He was succeeded by his oldest son, Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne so he could marry an American divorcee. Edward VIII was followed by his brother, who became George VI.
When George VI died in 1952, his daughter became Queen Elizabeth II. She is still reigning today the great great granddaughter of Queen Victoria.