She was born on May 24, 1819, to Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George III, and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield[?], sister of King Leopold I of the Belgians and widow of HSH Emich, 2nd Prince of Leiningen. Following the death of Leopold's wife, Princess Charlotte Augusta, in childbirth, the only legitimate child of King George IV, in 1817, there had been a scramble by the king's brothers to abandon their mistresses, marry, and beget an heir to the realm; Edward, marrying at the age of fifty, was the one who succeeded.2
At the tender age of eighteen, she ascended to the throne following the death of King William IV on June 20, 1837, Victoria was to prove Britain's longest reigning monarch. In her early days, she was largely dependent for advice on the Prime Minister, William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne, with whom she forged a strong relationship.
Victoria met her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha when she was just sixteen, and found him appealing even then. The families' desire to unite the two happened to coincide well with the desires of Victoria and Albert themselves, and they were married on February 10, 1840. However, there was some friction between them at first, because Albert wished to take an active role in the administration of the realm. Eventually, they reached a compromise, and their marriage became an outstandingly happy one, with the result that Victoria was completely devastated by his early death in 1861.
Bertie, the Prince of Wales as unfit to take responsibility, even though he was the heir to the throne, and never allowed him the kind of role that would have helped him prepare for kingship. With the extra time on his hands he became an aging playboy, whilst the queen withdrew into semi-permanent mourning and was popularly known as "the widow of Windsor". Her withdrawal from public life increased the profile of her children, most notably, Bertie and his wife Alexandra. She was known to keep dachshund dogs.
Relying increasingly on a Scottish retainer, John Brown, Victoria developed a reputation (which she did not altogether deserve) for being stern and lacking in humour. There are papers which suggest that she married John Brown in secret. Her favourite Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, persuaded her to assume, by Royal Proclamation of April 28, 1876, the title of "Empress of India," reflecting the fact that she had presided over a massive expansion of the British Empire and the continued rise of Britain as an industrial power. On January 1, 1877, at the first Imperial Assemblage (or Durbar) in Delhi, Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. She was not present, and she never visited India. Later in 1887, her golden jubilee brought her to new heights of popularity, and she went on to celebrate a diamond jubilee ten years later.
Victoria was known as the Grandmother of Europe. However, she was the first known carrier of hæmophilia in the royal line. It remains unclear how she acquired it. One theory is that it came about as a result of a sperm mutation from her father, who was 52 when Victoria was conceived. Alternately, she may have acquired it from her mother, though there is no known history of hæmophilia amongst her mother's family or her maternal ancestors. A third is that it came via Sir John Conroy, her mother's Irish secretary and reputed lover3, who was rumoured to be Victoria's actual father. This theory is not credible, however, as a male who is not a hæmophiliac could not possibly carry the gene for hæmophilia.
Alexei, the son of Nicholas II of Russia, who inherited the disease from his mother Alexandra of Hesse, a granddaughter of Victoria. Queen Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold, was also born with hæmophilia and died a young man because of it.
"We are not amused." - This quotation is attributed to Victoria, with varying stories. One has her saying it after viewing a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Other stories describe it as a reaction to a groom-in-waiting of hers, the Hon. Alexander Grantham Yorke, either to a theatrical production he put on, or to a risqué joke he told to a German guest and which the Queen asked him to repeat after the guest laughed loudly. In this account, she was not using the royal "we" but speaking for the affronted ladies of the court.  (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a940415)
"I will be good." - 11-year-old Victoria's spoken response in 1830 when her governess let her know that one day she would be Queen.
"Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfil my duty towards my country; I am very young, and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure, that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have." - her response in her diary upon becoming Queen in 1837 at age 18.
 Victoria's actual surname remained a mystery for much of her life until she had her aides check it out. They concluded that Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was only the Royal House name of Prince Albert, not as is often presumed, his surname. The general conclusion was that his actual surname, were he to have to use one, would be Wettin, which by marriage became Victoria's also and those of her children. Victoria was less than happy with the name and all mention of the name she hated was hidden for decades until accidentally rediscovered in the late twentieth century. In 1917, both the Royal House name and the personal family surname was changed to Windsor.
 For information on who may or may not have been Victoria's real father, see footnote 3.
 According to the Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Victoria as a young girl caught her widowed mother in a compromising position with Conroy. It was widely rumoured at court that their sexual relationship predated the Duke of Kent's death, and that Conroy rather than the Duke may well have been Victoria's natural father. However the continuing existence of particular generic illnesses in the Royal Family after Victoria that existed before her conception and which did not exist in Conroy's family suggest that her natural father almost certainly was the Duke of Kent, who would have passed on the genes to illnesses that struck as late as the Prince William of Gloucester[?]. who was killed in an airplane crash in the 1970s. Source: report of a conversation with Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom in which she talked of the health problems of Prince William of Gloucester.
|List of British monarchs||