Born Alexandrina Victoria in Kensington Palace, Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India. She inherited the throne on 20 June 1837 when she was just 18 years old. Her reign ended on 22 January 1901 when she died at age 81. Victoria is one of Britain’s most renowned monarchs, but here are 10 facts that you may not have known.
1. Victoria was not meant to become Queen
When she was born, Victoria was fifth in line to the throne. Her grandfather was King George III. His first son and heir to the throne, George IV, had a daughter named Princess Charlotte.
Charlotte died in 1817 due to complications during childbirth. This led to panic about who would succeed George IV. His younger brother William IV took the throne, but failed to produce an heir. The next youngest brother was Prince Edward. Prince Edward died in 1820, but he had a daughter: Victoria. Victoria thus became Queen upon the death of her uncle, William IV.
2. Victoria Kept a Journal
Victoria began writing in a journal in 1832 when she was just 13 years old. This was where she shared all of her thoughts, feelings, and secrets. She described her coronation, her political views, and her relationship with her husband, Prince Albert. By the time of her death, Victoria had written 43,000 pages. Queen Elizabeth II has digitised the surviving volumes of Victoria’s journals.
3. Victoria moved the royals to Buckingham Palace
Before Victoria ascended the throne, British royals had lived at various residences, including St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle, and Kensington Palace. Yet, three weeks after inheriting the crown, Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace.
She was the first sovereign to rule from the palace. The palace was renovated and continues to serve as personal and symbolic home to the sovereign today.
4. Victoria was the first to wear white on her wedding day
Women typically wore their favourite dresses on their wedding day, regardless of its colour. Yet, Victoria opted to wear a white satin and laced gown. She accessorised with an orange blossom wreath, a diamond necklace and earrings, and a sapphire brooch. This began a tradition of white wedding dresses that continues today.
5. Victoria is known as the ‘Grandmother of Europe’
Victoria and Albert had nine children. Many of their sons and daughters married into European monarchies to strengthen allegiances and British influence.
They had 42 grandchildren in royal families throughout Europe, such as Britain, Germany, Spain, Norway, Russia, Greece, Sweden, and Romania. The warring leaders in World War One were Victoria’s grandchildren!
6. Victoria spoke many languages
As her mother was German, Victoria grew up speaking fluent German and English. She had a strict education and learnt to speak some French, Italian, and Latin. When Victoria was older, she began to learn Hindustani. She developed a close friendship with her Indian servant, Abdul Karim, who taught her some phrases so that she could speak with her servants.
7. Victoria mourned Albert for almost 40 years
Albert died in December 1861, when Victoria was just 42 years old. After his death she wore only black to reflect her deep mourning and sadness. She withdrew from her public duties. This began to affect Victoria’s reputation, as people began to lose patience. She eventually returned to her royal duties in the 1870s, but continued to mourn for Albert until her death.
8. She was a carrier of the royal disease
Victoria was a carrier of haemophilia, a rare inherited disease that prevents blood from clotting. The condition has appeared in many European royal families that trace their lineage to Victoria. Victoria’s son Leopold had the condition and died after a fall triggered a cerebral haemorrhage.
9. Victoria survived assassination attempts
There were at least six attempts on Victoria’s life. The first attempt was in June 1840, when Edward Oxford tried to shoot Victoria whilst she and Albert were on an evening carriage ride. She survived further attempts that took place in 1842, 1949, 1850, and 1872.
10. There lots of places around the world named after Victoria
Cities, towns, schools and parks are just some of the places named after Victoria. The queen inspired Lake Victoria in Kenya, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Victoria Park in Bhavnagar, India. Canada named two of its cities after her (Regina and Victoria), while Australia named two of its states after the monarch (Queensland and Victoria).