Queen Victoria (1819-1901)

Part I

Victoria, daughter of Edward, the Duke of Kent and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg was born in Kensington Palace in London on May 24th, 1819. Victoria's father Edward died when she was just eight months old. Her mother kept a close rein on Victoria which included keeping her from her uncles, George IV and William IV.King William IV died in 1837 making young Victoria Queen of England at the tender age of 18. Finally escaping her cloistered lifestyle and domineering mother, Victoria ruled on her own terms.

There was little respect for the Crown in 1937 when Victoria became Queen. Victoria's easily won their hearts. She would not be treated as a child. She wished to be informed on all political matters. She had Lord Melbourne as Prime Minister early in her reign. They worked well together.

Within three years of taking the throne, Victoria fell madly in love with her cousin, Prince Albert of Sax-Coburg-Gotha. Theirs was one of the greatest loves of all time. They had nine children, four sons and five daughters who went on to marry the crown head of Europe. To know Victoria and her children are to know the history of Europe.

Victoria (Vicky), Princess Royal, b.1840, d. 1901 as Dowager Empress of Germany (married Frederick (Fritz) of Prussia, 1858)

Albert Edward (Bertie), Prince of Wales, b. 1841, d.1910 as King Edward VII (married Princess Alexandra of Denmark, 1863)

Alice, b. 1843, d. 1878 as Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt (married Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1862)

Alfred (Affie), b. 1844, d.1900 as Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (married Princess Marie of Russia, 1874)

Helena (Lenchen), b.1846, d.1923 as Princess Helena of Schleswig-Holstein (married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein)

Louise, b.1848, d.1939 as Dowager Duchess of Argyll (married Marquess of Lorne 1871)

Arthur, b.1850, d.1942 as Duke of Connaught (married Princess Louise of Prussia)

Leopold, b.1853, d.1884 as Duke of Albany (married Princess Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont)

Beatrice, b. 1856, d. 1944 as Princess Beatrice of Battenberg (married Prince Henry of Battenberg)

Prince Albert replaced Melbourne as the major influence in Victoria's life. She was completely devoted to him, writing tenderly of him in her letters and journals. .

Unfortunately, the Queen's subjects did not hold Albert in the same light as Victoria. He was forbidden from holding any public office and was never granted a title. He was finally given the name, Prince Consort after being married to Victoria for seventeen years. It wasn't until after Albert's death in 1861 that he was recoginized for his work in the art, science and industry. He established many cultural and industrial museums and had the foresight to purchase lands in Kensington.

 

After Albert's death at age 42 on December 14, 1861, Victoria was at a loss. Without Albert, her life had no meaning. She remained in seclusion for ten years. She remained in mourning for the rest of her life.

Victoria was crowned Empress of India by Disraeli. 1876. In 1887 Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was a national celebration of her 50th year as Queen. The Golden Jubilee finally brought Victoria from her life of mourning and she once again embraced public life. She toured France which had not been done since the Coronation of Henry VI in 1431.

Victoria remained energetic and optimistic in the last years of her life. The English population was had a new found pride in their Queen.

Part II

British royal commemoratives have not only been bought by the English out of love and loyalty for centuries but by the world over. Royal commemoratives started as far back as the 15th century with a medal being produced for the Coronation of King Edward VI but not until the 1800's and Queen Victoria did collecting become the obsession it is today.

Previously mugs had been issued in the 1700's for the Coronation of King George II who was the first to have his likeness reproduced on china or ceramic followed by the much hated King George IV who had a lavish Coronation and ordered many pieces made.

In 1831 King William IV, Queen Victoria's uncle had numerous items produced including the first royal bust and jigsaw puzzles to be offered for sale to the public.

Nothing previously prepared manufactures or the royal court for the adulation Queen Victoria would receive. Companies commissioned by the court were kept busy day and night getting ready for her Coronation. Until Princess Diana became the most photographed and famous person in history, it was a Queen Victoria commemorative piece that was most sought after and treasured, especially if it was a signed or numbered item. A signed letter or photograph of Queen Victoria sells for upwards of $10,000.00.

Queen Victoria's long reign saw a major increase in the population and a new breed of manufacturing opened up with new materials and techniques being used for mass marketing. After Victoria's reign the progress was not to be restrained. Until the Coronation of King Edward VII, the production of royal commemoratives was controlled by the Monarchy or the Lord Chamberlain's office. No longer true, everyone rushed to issue a new item. The new King's likeness was on everything from match boxes to teapots missing nothing in between. Queen Victoria's likeness even appeared on canned peaches and on peach crates. Jewelry and coins were fashioned after them and thus began a whole new world for the collector.

When we hear the words, Victorian Era we think of the grace and elegance of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Sadly, that grace and elegance is long gone!

Alicia Carroll

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