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Queen Victoria

Final Years

The final years of Victoria’s reign saw much triumph and celebration. Her title of Empress of India gave her enormous satisfaction in that she saw the influence of England extending itself beyond the boundaries of the Western world. Her Golden Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 saw her popularity as a monarch confirmed in the extent and the joyousness of the celebrations that were conducted. Her family was ever expanding, seeing the new arrivals of great-grandchildren to the fold. It also saw the loss of three of her children before her own demise: Alice in 1878 (diphtheria), Leopold in 1884 (hemophilia), and Affie (Alfred) in 1900 (tongue cancer). Her eldest son and heir Bertie, lost his eldest son and heir, Eddy (Albert Victor), in 1892 from influenza. As 1901 began, it was apparent that Victoria’s health was failing her. She was residing at her and Albert’s favorite residence, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight. After suffering a series of strokes, it became evident that she would not survive and many family members made the trek to be there when she died. Her eldest daughter, Vicky, was herself dying from spinal cancer and was unable to be there. Her son, Kaiser Wilhelm, was present at his grandmother’s death and was quoted as saying about her: “She has been a very great woman. Just think of it: she remembers George III, and now we are in the Twentieth Century. And all that time what a life she has led. I have never been with her without feeling that she was in every sense my Grandmama and made me love her as such. And yet the minute we began to talk about political things she made me feel we were equals and could speak as Sovereigns. Nobody had such power as she.” (Hibbert, pp. 493-494). She died at half-past six on January 22, 1901 with her son Bertie and her grandson Willy (Kaiser Wilhelm) by her side. Per her personal instructions, several of Albert’s personal items were placed in her coffin along with a locket picture of John Brown and a lock of his hair. She was buried beside Albert in the mausoleum she had built when he died, on the grounds of Frogmore at Windsor, in Berkshire, England.

My Personal Thoughts on Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was a woman who lived within her times, not so much a pioneer of any movement. Her longevity as a ruler and the fact that so many events and changes in society happened during her time that it was inevitable that the period would be named after her. She herself was not a mover or a shaker, but rather a product of the age in which she lived. Even the concept of a prudish Victorian had less to do with her than with the ideals espoused by her structured and disciplined husband, Prince Albert. What is certain about Victoria is that her reign ushered in a new respect for the monarchy that had been lacking in the antics and infighting that had occurred in the earlier Hanover years. Prince Albert put his mark on maintaining a decorum and respect that had been sorely lacking in previous rulers. Victoria made certain that Albert’s ideals were carried on after his early demise. Her own desire to see the reputation of the monarchy as an esteemed institution was demonstrated by her disappointment with her son Bertie’s tendency to enjoy the good life and his occasional trouble with scandal. Bertie was doomed by the fact that he could never hope to live up to the paragon that was his father. He would prove, though, to be an effective and esteemed ruler in his own right after the death of his mother. His peacemaking efforts with his two nephews, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas II, would temporarily stave off war until after his death in 1910. Without his presence after 1910, World War I would eventually break out.

One cannot travel through London today without bearing witness to the glory of Victoria and Albert. Statues of Victoria can virtually be seen everywhere. Outside Buckingham Palace in the roundabout, greeting visitors to Windsor Castle, sitting on the lawn at Kensington Palace are just an example of her presence today. The Albert Memorial sits to the entrance of Kensington Gardens, across from the Royal Albert Hall. The Victoria and Albert Museum is a must stop for any tourist who wants to take a peek at cultural life during the Victorian period. The respect that is accorded today’s Queen Elizabeth II has much to do with the fact that her great-great-grandmother had the love and respect of her subjects during one of the longest reigns in English history.

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