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Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 .
Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 22 January 1901) was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India.Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her Germanborn mother Princess Victoria of SaxeCoburgSaalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her fathers three elder brothers had all died, leaving no legitimate, surviving children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments. Publicly, she became a national icon, and was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of SaxeCoburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the nickname the grandmother of Europe. After Alberts death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.Her reign of 63 years and seven months, which is longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history, is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of SaxeCoburg and Gotha, the line of his father.
2. The Girl Who Would Be Queen
Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819 to Edward, the Duke of Kent (and fourth son of King George III) and German Princess Victoire of Leiningen. Although Victoria was fifth in line to the throne unlikely to become monarch the duke feared that any future claim to the throne might be challenged if she were born abroad. He ensured that his daughter was born on British soil, moving with his pregnant wife from Germany to England.Christened Alexandrina Victoria at birth, the child came to be called Victoria. Despite being born into royalty, she did not grow up surrounded by wealth. Edwards spendthrift ways had left him with many debts. The duke and duchess, in an attempt to reduce expenses, moved with their infant daughter to a modest home. Not long after the move, Edward became ill and died of pneumonia on January 23, 1820. Six days later, King George III died as well, thus making George IV King of England.Victoria was now third in line to the throne behind her two uncles, who had failed to produce heirs.
3. Victorias Less Than Royal Childhood
King George IV, whose only legitimate child had died in childbirth, was resentful of his brothers daughter. He begrudgingly allowed Victoria and her mother to move into an apartment at Kensington Palace, but would only approve a small allowance. The duchesss brother, Prince Leopold (later King Leopold of Belgium), agreed to pay for Victorias upbringing and education.Tutors were hired to school Victoria in history, math, drawing, and languages. Raised by a German mother who spoke little English, Victoria spoke mostly German the first few years of her life, but readily learned both English and French.In 1827, when Victoria was eight, her Uncle Frederick, the Duke of York, died, placing her one step closer to the throne.
4. A Scheming Pair
When newly widowed, Victorias mother had turned for advice to John Conroy, a colleague of her late husband. In the years following the dukes death, the selfserving Conroy convinced the duchess that she should have herself declared Victorias regent (an agent acting on behalf of an incapacitated or underage monarch) in the event that Victoria became queen while still a minor. In this way, Conroy through the duchess could essentially control the throne.When King George IV (who loathed Conroy and the duchess) died in 1830, the pair believed they could easily persuade newlycrowned King William IV to name the duchess as Victorias regent. But King William did not trust the duchess and refused her request. The duchess petitioned Parliament, winning approval as Victorias sole regent in 1831.The regency proved unnecessary. On June 20, 1837, a month after Victorias eighteenth birthday, King William died, making Victoria queen of England.
5. The Young Queen
Weeks after assuming the throne, Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace, where she began the business of ruling the nation. The young queens composure and confidence impressed the prime minister and the Privy Council (a group of high government officials and advisers to a monarch).The official coronation was held on June 28, 1838 amid great celebration. The public was enchanted by the new queen, who seemed more eager to please them than her predecessors had. A scandalous incident, however, would soon sway public opinion against her.The Lady Flora affair, as it came to be known, was the product of the young queens immaturity and lack of discretion. Victoria, among others, had noticed that her mothers ladyinwaiting, Flora Hastings an unmarried woman appeared to have a bulging abdomen. Queen Victoria jumped to the conclusion that Lady Flora was pregnant, and began to make comments about her to various members of her staff. The rumor circulated beyond palace walls.Within months, Lady Flora was gravely ill. When she died of an apparent abdominal tumor, the queen was blamed for having started the rumors that had brought dishonor upon a dying woman. The public was outraged; many of her detractors actually booed the queen when she went out in public.It would take an engagement and marriage for Queen Victoria to regain her reputation.
6. Courtship and Marriage
Victorias Uncle Leopold had long favored his German nephew Prince Albert first cousin to Victoria as the perfect candidate for marriage to the queen. When the prince and Victoria had met two years earlier, she had been impressed by Alberts looks and demeanor. Upon meeting with him a second time in October 1839, Victoria seemed smitten. Within days, she proposed to him (protocol would not allow him to propose to her), and the engagement was announced.Even before the wedding a debate arose as to what title Prince Albert should hold. Queen Victoria preferred King Consort, so that Albert could rule by her side, but members of Parliament were opposed to giving that power to a foreigner. Parliament decided to award the prince no rank or title whatsoever; he was simply made a British subject. Prince Albert was immensely disappointed, and the queen was furious, but could not oppose the decision.The wedding was held on February 10, 1840. Despite rainy weather, large crowds lined the streets to watch the procession from Buckingham Palace. Later, the crowd cheered as the newlymarried couple rode past in their carriage.
7. The Royal Offspring
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert welcomed the birth of their first child, Princess Victoria in November 1840. However, the queen was not happy that shed become pregnant so soon after the wedding, and often complained in her journal about the difficulties of motherhood.Queen Victoria gave birth to a male heir, Albert (Bertie), a year later. Between 1843 and 1857, the queen had seven more children, completing her family of five daughters and four sons. All survived to adulthood, a rare outcome at a time when many children did not survive infancy.
The queens fourth son Leopold, born in 1853, was diagnosed at an early age with hemophilia, a geneticallytransmitted bleeding disorder. He died in his thirties of the disease. Through the marriages of Victorias children, hemophilia later reemerged in several European royal families, most notably in the son of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his wife Alexandra (Victorias granddaughter). It was later determined that Queen Victoria and two of her daughters (as well as Alexandra) were carriers of the gene, which was passed on to their sons.
8. Prince Alberts Role
Prince Albert enjoyed being a father and found that having children had necessitated that he take on more responsibilities in the royal household. Queen Victoria increasingly relied upon him for advice, and he welcomed this new role. The prince was widely praised for organizing palace finances and eliminating wasteful spending.Prince Albert earned the admiration of the British public following an assassination attempt upon the queen in 1840. When a gunman shot at the royal carriage, Albert acted quickly, pushing his wife to the carriage floor to avoid the bullet. (Queen Victoria would survive seven assassination attempts.)After initial reservations about Alberts capabilities, Parliament appointed him regent in July 1840 during the queens pregnancy. As regent, Prince Albert would be in charge of the heir if Queen Victoria were to die in childbirth, or otherwise. The prince was not awarded the title of prince consort until 1857.
9. War and Rebellion
The British became involved in the Crimean War from 1854 to 1856. Most of the fighting took place in Russianheld Crimea, where bitter cold and disease took as many lives as battle wounds. The queen, lacking any power in military situations, felt compelled to help. She organized relief efforts, knitted socks and mittens, and visited soldiers in hospitals. In her official capacity, Queen Victoria wrote letters of condolence to war widows.British presence in India stirred up a rebellion of Indian soldiers, called sepoys, in 1857. The uprising resulted in the deaths of hundreds of European civilians. When the rebellion was finally subdued by British troops, all of India came under the control of the Crown of England. Queen Victoria proudly referred to India as a jewel of her crown. She was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877, when Parliament passed the Royal Titles Act.
10. The Death of Prince Albert
Queen Victoria endured the darkest year of her life in 1861, beginning with the death of her mother in March. Later in the year, her oldest son, Bertie first in line to the throne created a scandal by becoming romantically involved with an actress. Prince Albert traveled to Cambridge to chastise his son, despite feeling weak and feverish. He returned to Windsor Castle, where his condition deteriorated over the next few weeks. Prince Albert died on December 14, 1861 from probable stomach cancer.A widow at fortytwo, the queen was devastated. Faced with her official duties as well as the care of her children, she felt incapable of carrying on. Queen Victoria became a recluse, avoiding public events and social engagements and even refused foreign visitors.Victorias children suffered as well. They had lost their father; now their mother, too, seemed to abandon them in her grief. Some of the younger children became depressed and withdrawn, and Bertie became the object of his mothers anger. The queen blamed the twentyoneyearold prince for his fathers death. She felt that her sons misbehavior had compelled Prince Albert to make the trip to Cambridge, worsening his illness.The public and Parliament began to lose patience with the queen, who neglected her duties and remained in mourning for more than three years.
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