Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she had the additional title of Empress of India.
Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne aged 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.
Her reign of 63 years and seven months is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.
==Birth and family==
Victoria's father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of the reigning King of the United Kingdom, George III. Until 1817, Edward's niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, was the only legitimate grandchild of George III. Her death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent and his unmarried brothers to marry and have children. In 1818 he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children—Carl (1804–1856) and Feodora (1807–1872)—by her first marriage to the Prince of Leiningen. Her brother Leopold was Princess Charlotte's widower. The Duke and Duchess of Kent's only child, Victoria, was born at 4.15 a.m. on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London.〔Hibbert, pp. 3–12; Strachey, pp. 1–17; Woodham-Smith, pp. 15–29〕
Victoria was christened privately by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace.〔Her godparents were Emperor Alexander I of Russia (represented by her uncle the Duke of York), her uncle the Prince Regent, her aunt Queen Charlotte of Württemberg (represented by Victoria's aunt Princess Augusta) and Victoria's maternal grandmother the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (represented by Victoria's aunt Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh).〕 She was baptised ''Alexandrina'', after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and ''Victoria'' after her mother. Additional names proposed by her parents—Georgina (or Georgiana), Charlotte, and Augusta—were dropped on the instructions of the Duke's elder brother, the Prince Regent (later George IV).〔Hibbert, pp. 12–13; Longford, p. 23; Woodham-Smith, pp. 34–35〕
At birth, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after her father and his three older brothers: the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence (later William IV).〔Longford, p. 24〕 The Prince Regent and the Duke of York were estranged from their wives, who were both past child-bearing age, so the two eldest brothers were unlikely to have any further children. The Dukes of Kent and Clarence married on the same day 12 months before Victoria's birth, but both of Clarence's daughters (born in 1819 and 1820 respectively) died as infants. Victoria's grandfather and father died in 1820, within a week of each other, and the Duke of York died in 1827. On the death of her uncle George IV in 1830, Victoria became heiress presumptive to her next surviving uncle, William IV. The Regency Act 1830 made special provision for the Duchess of Kent to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor.〔Hibbert, p. 31; St Aubyn, p. 26; Woodham-Smith, p. 81〕 King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, and in 1836 declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided.〔Hibbert, p. 46; Longford, p. 54; St Aubyn, p. 50; Waller, p. 344; Woodham-Smith, p. 126〕
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