"Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real."

Cormac McCarthy

Last updated 4 October  2019  © Julia Edwards

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(1819-1901)

Princess Victoria had only just turned 18 when she became queen in 1837. When she was born, her grandfather, George III was still king, and she was fifth in line to the throne. However, by the time she was eleven, it was clear she would one day be queen, as her own father had died before she was one, none of her uncles had surviving children, and she had no brothers.

Victoria wasn't married when she came to the throne, but she had already met her German cousin, Prince Albert, who was presented to her as a possible husband. For centuries previously, royal marriages all over Europe had been made by arrangement, with political alliances between different royal families considered far more important than the opinions of the princes and princesses doing the actual marrying. Victoria and Albert were extremely lucky, however, because they fell in love almost at once. They were married in 1840, when Victoria had been queen for almost three years.

Over the next twenty years, Victoria and Albert were very happy together. Albert supported and advised Victoria as queen, and they had nine children, all of whom eventually married into other European royal families, earning Queen Victoria the nickname 'the Grandmother of Europe'.

The young Queen Victoria, etched by Charles Edward Wagstaff in 1839.

In December 1861, however, Albert died of what was diagnosed as typhoid fever. He was only 42. Queen Victoria went into deepest mourning, disappeared from public for several years, and wore black for the rest of her life. In his memory, she had the Albert Memorial built in Kensington Gardens in London, as well as the nearby Royal Albert Hall.

Victoria reigned for 63 years until her death in 1901, which made her the longest reigning monarch until Queen Elizabeth II overtook her in 2015. Her reign, which we talk about as 'Victorian times', was characterised by improvements to the living standards of most of the population, and an explosion of inventions and new technologies, much of which was encouraged by Prince Albert.

A more familiar image of Queen Victoria, probably taken in the 1880s when she was in her 60s. By this time, photographs were much more common.