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,
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
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 Victorias 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.
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
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!
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