Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria, from Keeling

Alexandrina Victoria was born in 1819, daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, and granddaughter of King George III who had produced 12 children but no male grandchild heir to the throne. She grew up at Kensington Palace in the care of her mother, Mary Louis Victoria who was the daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and spoke only German until the age of 3. After the death of her father and grandfather in 1810 and the death of her father's brother George IV in 1830 and of his brother William IV in 1837, Victoria became Queen of England at the age of 18. During the first years of her reign, she relied on the guidance of Lord Melbourne, leader of the liberal Whigs, and Baron Stockmar, a German advisor sent by her uncle King Leopold of Belgium.

Albert, from Keeling
In 1840, Victoria married her first cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The happy marriage restored the credibility of the monarchy that had declined since George III, and Albert became Victoria's closest advisor. He was named regent and Prince Consort, and described his own role as: "the husband of the Queen, the tutor of the Royal children, the private secretary of the sovereign and her permanent Minister." Victoria and Albert were conservative defenders of monarchy and tradition. They opposed Chartism and the 1848 revolutions. They favored the unification of Germany under the Prussian state, negotiated an agreement with King Louis Phillipe of France over the marriage of the Spanish Queen, and supported the monarchy in Portugal threatened by revolution. However, Lord Palmerston clashed with Victoria by supporting liberal causes abroad and an independent foreign policy. Palmerston invited Kossuth to his London house in 1851, and approved of Louis Napoleon's coup in France, became prime minister in 1855 of a liberal coalition that governed England for the next ten years. Palmerston aligned England with Italian unification over opposition of the crown, but agreed the need to oppose Russian expansion into the Crimea.


revised 3/19/06 by Steven Schoenherr at the University of San Diego