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|Posté le: Ven Nov 27 2015, 22:46 Sujet du message: Queen Victoria
|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—to date, the second longest than any other British monarch and the second longest of any female monarch in history (Queen Elizabeth II is currently the longest serving monarch to date). Victoria's reign saw great cultural expansion; advances in industry, science, and communications; and the building of railways and the London Underground. She died in England in 1901.
Queen Victoria served as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837, and as empress of India from 1877, until her death in 1901. She was born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24, 1819, in London, England, the only child of George III's fourth son, Edward, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, king of the Belgians.
Victoria’s father died when she was eight months old and her mother became a domineering influence in her life. As a child, she was said to be warmhearted and lively. Educated at the Royal Palace by a governess, she had a gift for drawing and painting and developed a passion for journal writing.
Upon her father’s death, Victoria became the heir apparent, since her three surviving uncles, who were ahead of her in succession, had no legitimate heirs who had survived childhood. When King William IV died in June 1837, Victoria became queen at the very young age of 18. Victoria’s first prime minister, Lord Melbourne, was her political advisor and confidant and helped teach the young queen the intricacies of being a constitutional monarch.
A Marriage Partnership
In 1840, she married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. At first, the British public didn’t warm up to the German prince and he was excluded from holding any official political position. At times their marriage was tempestuous, a clash of wills between two extremely strong personalities. However, the couple were intensely devoted to each other and shared a strong enough affection to have nine children. Prince
Albert also became her strongest ally, helping her navigate difficult political waters. In 1861, Victoria's beloved prince died of typhoid fever after several years of suffering from stomach ailments. Victoria was devastated and went into a 25-year seclusion.
Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Under Queen Victoria's reign, Great Britain experienced unprecedented expansion in industry, building railways, bridges, underground sewers and power distribution networks throughout much of the empire. There were advances in science (Charles Drawin's theory of evolution) and technology (the telegraph and popular press), vast numbers of inventions, tremendous wealth and poverty; growth of great cities like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham; increased literacy; and great civic works, often funded by industrial philanthropists.
During her reign, Britain expanded its imperial reach, doubling in size and encompassing Canada, Australia, India and various possessions in Africa and the South Pacific. The Queen was emblematic of the time: an enthusiastic supporter of the British Empire, which stretched across the globe and earned the adage: “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”
At various points in her reign, Queen Victoria exercised some influence over foreign affairs, expressing her preference, but not pressing beyond the bounds of constitutional propriety. During this time, the British Empire experienced only a few small wars, exerting its authority over foreign possessions. One of the major factors that helped Britain avoid European entanglements was the marriage of Victoria's children: either directly or by marriage, she was related to the royal houses of nearly every major European power, with the exceptions of France and Spain. Though the English constitutional arrangement denied her powers in foreign affairs, she ruled her family with an iron hand that helped keep Great Britain away from the intrigues of European politics.
During Queen Victoria’s reign, British Parliamentary politics went through a major transition. The Tory Party split, forming the Liberal and Conservative parties, and started a succession of opposing administrations. Victoria played a crucial role as mediator between arriving and departing prime ministers. Though she detested Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, she found ways to work with him, even during her mourning period. She was particularly fond of Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who linked the Monarchy to the expansion of the empire, which helped restore public opinion following Queen Victoria’s long seclusion
after the death of her beloved Albert
Death and Legacy
Life in Britain during the 19th century was known as Victorian England because of Queen Victoria’s long reign and the indelible stamp it and her persona placed on the country. Her ethics and personality have become synonymous with the era.
Victoria continued in her duties up to her death. In keeping with tradition, she spent Christmas 1900 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where her health quickly declined to the point that she was unable to return to London. She died on January 22, 1901, at age 81. Her son and successor King Edward VII and her eldest grandson Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany were both at her bedside.
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