I believe no introductions are needed, especially among us lovers of the Romantic Era. We have all heard her name, and what she achieved during her reign, be it good or bad. Queen Victoria is a permanent fixture in the literature of the Era.
Canadians have even named a day after their “Mother of Confederation”, and Victoria’s Day is the unofficial start of summer.
With the help of her husband, Albert, Victoria created a new visible constitutional monarchy to stem a growing republican movement in Britain. She became a patron of 150 institutions, including many charities, while Albert supported the development of educational museums. The royal couple went on civic visits to industrial towns like Leeds, and attended military reviews to support the armed forces. Together, they helped stem criticism that the Royal Family didn’t earn its keep.
Let’s be honest here, there can’t be a Royal without their secrets, their side that they keep hidden from the people. And Queen Victoria certainly was a colorful character!
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a few things that you might not know about one of the most well-known Queens of Britain!
Watch out, Vickie! I’m about to pull back the blinds!
She Shouldn’t Have Been Queen
Victoria was born fifth in line to the throne, making it unlikely she would ever become Queen. A succession crisis saw George III, George IV, heir apparent Princess Charlotte and Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent all die between 1817 and 1830. With more royal deaths than in most seasons of Game of Thrones, Victoria ended up being crowned not long after her 18th birthday.
She Had a Sliiiightly Chaotic Coronation Ceremony
She wore robes of white satin and red velvet. The five-hour ceremony was a little chaotic as the Dean of Westminster, who had presided over previous coronations, was ill. Victoria was handed the orb at the wrong moment and the Archbishop of Canterbury forced a ring on the wrong finger, which took her an hour to remove. After the ceremony, Victoria returned to Buckingham Palace for a family banquet and watched fireworks from her mother’s balcony.
She Shouldn’t Have Been Queen Victoria, but Queen Alexandrina
Victoria was actually her middle name. Official documents were even prepared on the first day of her reign describing her as Alexandrina Victoria, but she demanded the first name be withdrawn.
She Married Her First Cousin
“He was so kind, so affectionate; oh! to feel I was, and am, loved by such an Angel as Albert, was too great a delight to describe!”
-Journal entry, 15 October 1839
Victoria fell in love with her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when he visited Britain in 1839. Prince Albert and Victoria shared a mutual uncle, Leopold, King of the Belgians. Not only were they first cousins, Albert was also prohibited from proposing to Victoria because she was already queen.
As head of state she had to propose to him. The couple were married the following year. Victoria wore a large white wedding dress and had a tiered wedding cake. This started a new tradition among brides who in the past had worn their Sunday best to the ceremony. The relationship was a passionate one and Victoria often lost her temper with her new husband. Albert took on the role of ‘moral tutor’ to Victoria, which irritated her but meant she relied more heavily on him.
Oh dear, I so wish I knew if she dropped to one knee!
She Spent Almost Two Decades Pregnant
Victoria and Albert’s first child, Princess Victoria, was born nine months after their wedding. But little Vicky wasn’t an only child for long. A year later, she had a baby brother for company, and within 17 years, the royal household boasted nine children: four boys and five girls.
Queen Victoria was Canada’s “Mother of Confederation”
On March 29, 1867, Queen Victoria granted Royal Assent to the British North America Act (known today as the Constitution Act, 1867)—paving the way for Canada’s unification as a country. The Act would come into effect on July 1, 1867, now known around the world as Canada’s birthday.
She Mourned Her Husband for 40 Years
Prince Albert died at the age of 42. The Queen was inconsolable with grief and wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life.
Victoria withdrew from public life after Albert’s death, but kept up with her correspondence and continued to give audiences to ministers and official visitors. She decreed that monuments to honor Albert should be built across the country and Empire – including the Albert Memorial.
She’s the World’s Most Photographed Queen
A set of 14 photos, known as Carte de Visites, was created of the Royal Family.
More than 60,000 copies were sold, despite having a hefty price tag of four pounds and four shillings. It marked the beginning of photographic celebrity culture, with many women and men trying to copy Victoria’s impeccable fashion sense and Albert’s compelling figure.
She Survived Eight Assassination Attempts
Queen Victoria may have been one of the longest-reigning monarchs, but she was also one of the luckiest. On at least eight occasions—most of them while riding in her open carriage—would-be assassins tried to kill her. She also had a stalker. A man by the name of Edward Jones broke into the royal residence at Buckingham Palace several times and was eventually caught—but not before he sat on her throne and stole her underwear.
Just four months after they married, Edward Oxford fired two shots at pregnant Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as they sat in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace!
Well, well…Quite an interesting life you had, didn’t you Vickie? Oh, how I wish we could share a cup of tea! I do wonder about what you could have told me in confidence!
As you can see, life during the Victorian Era was anything but dull. Why, it had its many moments, I should say!
Certainly, a lot more than my dreadfully boring history teacher led me to believe!
Who knows, darling? Living your own personal 19th century drama doesn’t seem so unlikely, does it? 😉
Written by Emma Linfield