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Queen Victoria was queen of Great Britain from 1837 to 1901—the longest reign of any other British monarch in history.
To her subjects Queen Victoria seemed to be a grim individual, but in private she was a very different person.
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Queen Victoria, the only child of George III's fourth son, Edward, and sister of Leopold, king of the Belgians, was queen of Great Britain for 63 years—longer than any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history. Victoria's reign saw great cultural expansion and advances in industry, science, communications, and the building of railways and the London Underground. She died in England in 1901.
Queen Victoria, who served as queen of Great Britain from 1837 until her death in 1901, and as empress of India from 1876, was born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24, 1819, in London, England. Victoria was the only child of George III's fourth son, Edward, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, king of the Belgians.
Taught by Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister, at a young age, Victoria had a clear grasp of both constitutional principles and the scope of her own prerogative, which she resolutely exercised in 1839 by setting aside the precedent which decreed dismissal of the current ladies of the bedchamber, thus causing Peel not to take up office as prime minister. In 1840, she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The would have four sons and five daughters together.
Strongly influenced by her husband, with whom she worked in closest harmony, after his death in 1861, Victoria went into lengthy seclusion. She neglected many duties, which brought her unpopularity and motivated a republican movement. But with her recognition as empress of India, and the celebratory golden (1887) and diamond (1897) jubilees, she rose high in her subjects' favor, and increased the prestige of the monarchy.
Victoria had strong preferences for certain prime ministers (notably Melbourne and Disraeli) over others (notably Peel and Gladstone), but, following the advice of Albert, did not press these beyond the bounds of constitutional propriety. At various points in her reign, she exercised some influence over foreign affairs, and the marriages of her children had important diplomatic and dynastic implications in Europe.
Queen Victoria's reign—the longest in English history—saw advances in industry, science (Charles Darwin's theory of evolution), communications (the telegraph, popular press) and other forms of technology; the building of railways and the London Underground, sewers, and power distribution networks; the construction of bridges and other engineering feats; a vast number of inventions; a greatly expanded empire; unequal growth of wealth, with class differences to the fore; tremendous poverty; increase in urban populations, with the growth of great cities like Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham; increased literacy; and great civic works, often funded by industrial philanthropists.
In her later years, Victoria did not permit knocking at her bedroom door. Family members announced their presence by a gentle scratching.
Queen Victoria died near Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, and was succeeded by her son, Edward VII. At the time of her death, Victoria was hailed as an exemplary monarch. Victoria's stern view on morality, and the preeminence of Britain on the world stage under her rule, helped define the age that bears her name.
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Aside from their gender, female leaders don't have much else in common. Some have brought peace to troubled lands, while others have strewn discontent. Some have been competent or brilliant, others inept or corrupt. They come from political positions ranging from arch-conservative to ultra-leftist and represent all the world's religions.
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They rule the Royal House of Windsor, and they can trace their bloodlines back through thousands of years of monarchy and leadership. The British Royal Family, with Queen Elizabeth II at the head of the throne, lead Britain's constitutional monarchy. As the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and is honored for 60 years on the throne, the Royal Family has never been more popular. They go by the terms "His and Her Royal Highness," yet they are admired for their style, down-to-earth personalities, media savvy, and their devotion to humanitarian causes. All eyes are on Princes William and Harry as they carry on their family legacy into the 21st century.
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