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British history

Victorian Britain

Ludgate Circus, London, in around 1900Ludgate Circus, London, in around 1900 Queen Victoria ruled Britain from 1837 until 1901. During her long reign, Britain became the richest nation in the world, and an industrial, urban society (with many large cities and factories). Britain also gained a huge empire in India and elsewhere that covered almost a quarter of the world’s land area. Victorian Britain was a time of great change. Parliament was reformed. Legislation was introduced to control working conditions in factories and mines and to improve public health in the cities. Education was provided for every child for the first time. Railways connected every town and city in the land.


Queen Victoria wearing an Order of the Garter sashQueen Victoria wearing an Order of the Garter sash

Queen Victoria

Victoria was born in 1819. She was the daughter of the fourth son of George III and so she was unlikely to inherit the throne. After her uncles George IV, Prince Frederick and William IV died, leaving no surviving children, and her own father died while she was a baby, Victoria unexpectedly ascended the throne in 1837, aged 18. In 1840, she married her cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a small German duchy. It was a happy marriage, producing nine children. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was stricken with grief. She retired from public life for years and wore black for the rest of her life. Some people called for the end of the monarchy. But she gradually returned to her duties and became a much-loved monarch until her death in 1901. Her children and grandchildren married into all the major royal houses of Europe, giving her the name "grandmother of Europe".
 

Queen Victoria took it upon herself to propose to her future husband Prince Albert, on 15th October 1839.

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