10 Facts About Queen Victoria | History Hit

10 Facts About Queen Victoria

Jessica Redhead

08 May 2023

Alexandrina Victoria was born in Kensington Palace and ascended to become the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as well as the Empress of India. At the young age of 18, she inherited the throne on 20 June 1837 and ruled for over six decades until her death on 22 January 1901 at the age of 81. As one of the most celebrated British monarchs, Victoria’s legacy remains significant.

Nonetheless, here are ten fascinating facts about Queen Victoria that might surprise you.

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.

Queen Victoria

Portrait of Victoria aged four by Stephen Poyntz Denning, (1823).

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 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

The dress that started it all: Victoria marrying Prince Albert wearing a white wedding dress.

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

Did you know Queen Victoria was a party-animal who stayed up until 5am drunk on wine and whiskey?
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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

Before Queen Victoria, royal funerals had been quiet, private affairs held at night but Victoria left very clear instructions that she wanted a full military and state funeral, to be dressed in white with white ponies and a gun carriage. Journalist and author of the acclaimed 'Victoria and Abdul,' Shrabani Basu joins Dan to talk through the last days of Queen Victoria's life, the unprecedented pageantry of her funeral, what happened to those who were there in her last moments and the parallels between these long-reigning monarchs.
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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).

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Jessica Redhead