Queen Victoria Research Paper

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At the age of eighteen Victoria ascended to the throne after the death of her grandfather, George III. She ruled Great Britain and Ireland until her own death in 1901. Victoria found her niche as a warrior queen during the Crimean War (1854-1856); she remained devoted to the British troops and became the symbol of expanding empire for the remainder of her reign.

Victoria reigned as queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death. Her empire grew to be the world’s largest, including at its height 25 percent of the Earth’s population. In 1877 parliament conferred on her the title Empress of India. Her nine children married royalty and she became grandmother to European royalty. Victoria was born to Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III, and Victoria, a widowed German princess of Saxe-Coburg. Her parents intended to produce an heir in an effort to have parliament make good her father’s debts. After her father died before Victoria was a year old, her mother raised her strictly in preparation for her inheritance. William IV, Victoria’s uncle—her father’s older brother—produced no legitimate heirs and so with her father’s death Victoria was next in line. Victoria slept in her mother’s bedroom until she ascended to the throne. Victoria immediately asserted herself by sleeping alone and by dispensing with her mother’s comptroller, who had exploited his position. Estrangement from her mother left the eighteen-year-old queen under the tutelage of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who instilled in his charge a strong, unquestioned sense of her central role in politics.

In 1840 she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Excluding him from governing at first, she came to worship Albert and gradually made him de facto co-regent. Between 1840 and 1857, they produced Victoria, Edward, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold, and Beatrice; they made every effort to create a model family, teaching duty, hard work, chastity, and sobriety. The family moved among homes at Windsor Castle, Balmoral in Scotland’s Highlands, and a new house designed by Albert on the Isle of Wight (Osborne). Named prince consort by his wife in 1857, Albert along with Victoria played a key role in the confused coalitions that governed after Robert Peel destroyed the Tory Party to give Britain free trade. Victoria found her preferred role as a warrior queen during the Crimean War (1854–1856), seeing off the troops, visiting the wounded, and establishing the Victoria Cross for bravery in 1856.

Albert died of typhoid in 1861, leaving Victoria distraught and causing her to withdraw from public appearances—except to review her troops. She built memorials to Albert and had servants lay out a fresh suit of clothes in his room each evening for forty years. In private she allowed John Brown, Albert’s Scottish servant, to serve as her comfort until his death. The Conservative prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, wooed the queen from her grieving isolation and restored her popularity by making her the symbol of the British Empire. Supplying her with political gossip and cabinet secrets, he converted her into an ardent, partisan Conservative. She despised William E. Gladstone, leader of the Liberal Party, and his plan to give Ireland home rule. She exhibited dismay when Gladstone’s government failed to rescue “Chinese” Charles Gordon from Khartoum and approved heartily when General Horatio Herbert Kitchener defeated the Mahdists at Omdurman, Sudan, in 1898. Once she possessed a territory, she never wanted to part with it, believing that any people profited from her rule.

In 1887 Victoria celebrated her golden jubilee as a European monarch with relatives and rulers from across Europe parading through London’s streets dressed in elaborate military uniforms. Victoria excluded the heads of Europe from her diamond jubilee in 1897 to invite the rulers of her dominions and colonies, turning the ceremony into a celebration of the empire’s diversity and might. But the Boer War clouded her final years. Her grandson, William II, Emperor of Germany, favored her enemy and the conflict strained the resources of the empire.

Victoria adopted an Indian Muslim servant, Abdul Karim, as her favorite, demonstrating her “liberal” views on religion and “race.” Though she personally preferred the Scottish Presbyterian service, Victoria constantly strove for tolerance. She valued her relations with all her subjects, caring deeply for her servants and comforting widows of all classes. She displayed a feel for the public mind. Although she considered herself a constitutional monarch and favored free trade, she had her prime ministers write her each day reporting all significant affairs and never hesitated to intervene when she felt it necessary. She named the Liberal Lord Rosebery prime minister in 1894 because he was a safe imperialist. She influenced the appointment of cabinet ministers and sometimes conspired to elect Conservatives. Though she gave her name to an era popularly known for its prudishness, she forgave drunkenness and other human foibles in those whom she loved. When she died at Osborne in 1901, the world recognized it was the end of an era.


  1. Arnstein, W. L. (2003). Queen Victoria. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. De-la-Noy, M. (2003). Queen Victoria at home. New York: Carroll & Garf.
  3. Duff, D. (Ed.). (1997). Queen Victoria’s highland journals. London: Hamlyn.
  4. Gill, G. (2009). We two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, partners, rivals. New York: Ballantine Books.
  5. Strachey, L. (1921). Queen Victoria. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
  6. Weintraub, S. (1987). Queen Victoria: An intimate biography. New York: Dutton.

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