Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819-1901) is one of the most high-profile monarchs in British history. She ruled the United Kingdom for more than 60 years, was empress of the greatest empire in the world and an entire era in British history has been named after her. However, there are also aspects of her life that are less clearly highlighted. Below we give you 8 less known facts about Queen Victoria.
1. She was only 18 when she became Queen
Victoria was crowned Queen of Great Britain as early as the age of 18. This was very unexpected because she was fifth in the line of heirs to the throne. But her then uncle, King William IV, also perished so her time had come.
2. She had an unhappy childhood
Victoria grew up in Kensington Palace, where she was born in 1819. Her father died when she was only 8 months old. She was raised by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her ambitious advisor, Sir John Conroy.
Conroy applied a steel discipline to Victoria’s upbringing, known today as the Kensington System. This meant that the princess had a strict teaching schedule and was not allowed to spend almost any time with other children. She was not allowed to go anywhere alone, there had to be an adult with her at all times. She also slept in bed with her mother until she became queen and was never allowed to walk down the stairs without someone holding her hand.
3. She spoke several languages
Partly due to her strict school schedule under the ‘Kensington System’, Victoria turned out to be a very good linguist. She was fluent in both English and German and also spoke French, Italian and Latin.
As she got older, she also started experimenting with other, exotic languages. For example, she learned to speak Hindustani and Urdu.
4. The bond with her prime ministers was not always good
Through her long reign, Victoria has seen many prime ministers come and go. While she built up a very strong bond with some of them, others didn’t impress her.
She loved her first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. She loved him like a father. This intense relationship, however, didn’t go as well with other politicians. She’s been widely criticised for being partisan because of her strong bond with the Prime Minister.
Subsequent prime ministers were a lot less popular. She found Lord John Russell stubborn and rude and called Lord Palmerstone a ‘terrible old man’.
5. She was known as the “Granny of Europe
During her 21-year marriage to Prince Albert, Victoria had 9 children. To expand Britain’s sphere of influence, some of her children married other European monarchs. Only a few generations later, her 42 grandchildren could be found in royal houses throughout Europe. That’s why she got the nickname ‘grandmother of Europe’.
6. She survived at least 6 attacks on her life
In the course of her 63 years of reign, at least 6 attacks on her life had taken place. Some of them came frighteningly close to their goal.
In 1840, the open coach in which Victoria and Albert rode that night was shot. However, the attack failed and the perpetrator, Edward Oxford, was arrested.
In 1850, the carriage slowly drove through the gates of Buckingham Palace, when suddenly a man, Robert Pate, ran forward. He hit Victoria hard on the head with a cane. The man didn’t manage to hurt her to badly, but Victoria was frightened, nonetheless.
7. She mourned her husband’s death for 40 years
In December 1861, Prince Albert died unexpectedly. Albert was only 42 years old when he died of typhoid fever. This was a great shock for Victoria. Albert was her support, both politically and emotionally.
She never got over it. Although she still had intimate relationships after his death – of which John Brown was the most famous – she never married again.
8. Victoria is buried with a lock of John Brown’s hair
The queen died at the age of 81. When the family left after the separation, her secret instructions were carried out. John Brown’s mother’s wedding ring was slipped on her finger. It contained a small photograph of John Brown and a lock of his hair. She was then buried next to her beloved husband, Prince Albert.