England’s Noblest Queen and Empress of India
1819 – 1901 A.D.
Amere list of great events and progressive movements of Victoria’s reign would fill many pages. In the summer of 1887 was celebrated the fiftieth year of her reign and ten yeas later, 1897, the nation and the world did honor the queen by celebrating her “diamond jubilee.” And well might the occasion to be celebrated, for no similar period in the history of Europe has been so “crowded with benefit to humanity.”
Her coming to the throne is of romantic interest. Her father, Edward, Duke of Kent, was the youngest son of George III. He was sent to Hanover to the educated as a soldier. A thousand pounds a year was appointed for his education, but this did not seem sufficient. He contracted debts without permission of his father returned to England. He was sent to Gibraltar and then to Canada, where he commanded the military forces of British America. Later he was made governor of Gibraltar and ruled well.
When he was fifty years of age he married Princess Louisa Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, who became the noble mother of Victoria. The father desired that his child should be born in England and sought financial aid from his brother for the journey, but this was refused. Edward believed that he would some day be king and his brothers had lived dissipated lives and were older than he; moreover, he expected that his child would rule England. Funds were at last secured, though the duke lived and died heavily in debt.
The couple returned to England and took up their residence at Kensington Palace, where the future queen was born. Her father lived but eight months after her birth and the training of Victoria devolved entirely upon the mother, one of the noblest of the world’s noble women. The character of England’s queen was formed by her mother.
Her education was most thorough and liberal and in all her studies and amusements the mother was her constant companion. From her cradle she was taught to speak three languages, English, German, and French, as well as being proficient in mathematics and the sciences.
As a child she was told of her father’s debts and early began to lay aside money which might have been spent for toys, to help in canceling the debts. Almost her first act on coming to the throne was to pay these debts in full.
After she had been proclaimed sovereign she retired to her mother’s apartments and then following this notable conversation:
“I can scarcely believe, mamma, that I am Queen of England. Can it indeed be so?”
“You are really queen, my child,” Replied the Duchess of Kent, “listen how your subjects still cheer your name in the streets and dry to God to bless you.”
“In time I shall perhaps become accustomed to this too great and splendid state. But, since I am sovereign, let me, as your queen, have today my first wish. Let me be quite alone, dear mother, for a long time.”
And Victoria spent the first hours of her reign alone on her knees praying for herself and her people, with supplications simple and noble, which have been graciously answered in these decades.
From the hour that Victoria became queen her mother, the duchess, gave no further advice or suggestion, but treated her with respect due to her rank. The duchess was confident of the character which had been formed and wisely and graciously left all responsibility upon the one who had been so carefully trained to bear it. Although but eighteen years of age, Victoria was a woman in wisdom.
Two years after her coronation she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and until his death, twenty years later, they lived lives of ideal domestic happiness and gave to England a model of home love and fidelity. Nine children were born to them.
Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, January 22, 1901. The expressions of universal sorrow which her death called forth from all of the civilized nations of the world show how widely she was loved and honored both as a woman and as a queen.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.