Women’s History: May 24

24 May

Happy Birthday, Queen Victoria

Happy Birthday, Queen Victoria.  Queen Victoria was the longest ruling monarch of Great Britain, ruling from June 20, 1837 to January 22, 1901.  Our Elizabeth II is catching up, and may usurp Victoria’s title in four years and 100 days, but who’s counting?After reining for 63 years, it seemed most fitting to give Vicky her own era, The Victorian Era–a time known for great repression, “stiff upper lip”.

Most people are familiar with her marriage to her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  Victoria and Albert had nine children.  Most of their children and grandchildren married into other royal families across Europe, thus earning Victoria the nickname,  “the grandmother of Europe”.  The irony of Queen Victoria is that while she held rather provincial views as to the role of women and mothers, she herself held a domineering presence, albeit the monarch’s status even at this point was more figurehead than actual policy maker.  While Albert was alive, Victoria deferred to her husband and promoted his activity within government.  Prince Albert was an abolitionist and worked to end slavery in Great Britain.  Adding to the irony, Victoria was none too happy to have “Mother” living with her, but by law, she was not allowed to live alone as Queen.  In order to remedy the problem of “Mother” Victoria would have to marry, as reported by her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, to which she replied: “…schocking [sic] alternative”.  Victoria was very much in love with Albert, if we are to believe what she recorded in her journals:

I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert … his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! … to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!

Being the eternal Anglophile that I am, I have always been fascinated by Queen Victoria and the British Monarchy.  Click here to learn more about Queen Victoria.

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