Who was Queen Victoria?
Queen Victoria reigned in Britain from 1837-1901. This time is also called the Victorian era. She ruled with her husband, Prince Albert, until he died in 1861. They had nine children.
Victoria was queen for 64 years. Until September 2015 she was the longest-reigning monarch that Britain ever had; that record is now held by Queen Elizabeth II.
Eight of her nine children married other royals in Europe, so some people call Victoria the ‘grandmother of Europe’. She was a very popular queen for most of her reign.
Top 10 facts
- Victoria was queen from 24 May 1837-22 January 1901 – that’s almost 64 years!
- Victoria’s full name was Alexandrina Victoria.
- Victoria’s mum and her mum’s friend, John Conroy, set up strict rules that Victoria had to follow as she grew up – these rules were called the Kensington System.
- Victoria married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, in 1840.
- Victoria and Albert had nine children, including Prince Albert Edward who became King Edward VII after Victoria died.
- Albert died in 1861 from typhoid fever, and Victoria never stopped mourning for him; she wore black clothes for the rest of her life.
- Victoria was queen during the time with the British Empire expanded to include India. She became the Empress of India in 1867.
- Christmas traditions such as buying a Christmas tree and sending cards became popular thanks to Queen Victoria and her family!
- Victoria died on 22 January 1901, and is buried with Prince Albert at Windsor Palace.
- Queen Victoria is Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandmother.
- 24 May 1819Victoria was born at Kensington Palace in London to Prince Edward and Princess Victoria Mary Louisa (the Duke and Duchess of Kent)
- 26 August 1819Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha was born
- 20 June 1837William IV died, and Victoria became queen
- 28 June 1838Victoria’s coronation took place at Westminster Abbey
- 15 October 1839Victoria and Albert were engaged
- 10 February 1840Victoria and Albert were married
- 21 November 1840Princess Victoria was born
- 9 November 1841Prince Albert Edward was born; he would later become King Edward VII
- 13 June 1842Queen Victoria took a train from Slough to London, becoming the first monarch to travel by train.
- 25 April 1843Princess Alice was born
- 6 August 1844Prince Alfred was born
- 25 May 1846Princess Helena was born
- 1846Victoria and Albert bought Balmoral Castle
- 18 March 1848Princess Louise was born
- 1 May 1850Prince Arthur was born
- 1851Prince Albert helped plan the Great Exhibition
- 7 April 1853Prince Leopold was born
- 14 April 1857Princess Beatrice was born
- 14 December 1861Prince Albert died from typhoid fever
- 1 May 1876Queen Victoria was given the title Empress of India
- March 1871The Royal Albert Hall opened, built to honour Prince Albert’s wish to have a place where people could learn about and enjoy the arts and sciences
- 1883Victoria awarded the Royal Red Cross to Florence Nightingale
- 1887Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee
- 1897Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee
- 1899The South Kensington Museum was renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum
- 22 January 1901Queen Victoria died
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Did you know?
- Victoria was born at Kensington Palace, but made Buckingham Palace her home. Buckingham Palace is where Queen Elizabeth II lives now.
- Victoria’s first name is actually Alexandrina, but she always went by her middle name (Victoria). Her mum called her Drina.
- Victoria was very short – she was under 5 feet tall.
- The rules Victoria had to follow when she grew up were called the Kensington System. These rules were very strict – she was not allowed to sleep in her own room (she shared a room with her mum), and she wasn’t allowed to have other children around to play with.
- Victoria didn’t have any brothers or sisters. Her best friends growing up were her dolls, and her dog, Dash. Victoria had 132 wooden dolls!
- Victoria loved to draw and paint, and she was also good at music and maths. Victoria’s mum was German, so she grew up speaking both English and German.
- Victoria kept a diary for most of her life and wrote about the things that she did both growing up and after becoming queen. It’s through reading those diaries that we know about the sort of person Victoria was.
- Victoria met Prince Albert when she was 17.
- Imagine your mum waking you up in the middle of the night to tell you that you are the new queen of England! That’s what happened to Victoria when she found out her uncle, King William IV died. She was 18 years old.
- Victoria and Albert had nine children (in order):
- Albert Edward
- Victoria and Albert’s son, Albert Edward, became king after Victoria died in 1901. He is better known as King Edward VII.
Browse through the gallery and see if you can spot the following:
- Queen Victoria in 1882
- A family tree showing how Queen Elizabeth II is related to Queen Victoria
- A portrait of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and five of their children in 1846
- A drawing of the Royal family celebrating Christmas
- A portrait of Victoria when she was four years old
- A portrait of Queen Victoria at her coronation
- Queen Victoria in 1873
- Prince Albert
- John Brown and Queen Victoria
- A gown that Queen Victoria wore in 1851
- Queen Victoria’s signature
- A Queen Victoria copper penny
- The inside of Queen Victoria’s royal saloon coach, made by the Great Western Railway
- A sleigh that Victoria and Albert would ride in when it snowed
- Kensington Palace
- Balmoral Castle
- A statue of Victoria in Bath
- A sketch of the Queen
- Victoria's bathing machine, kept at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight
- A Franz Winterhalter portrait of Victoria
Victoria’s mum and her mum’s friend, John Conroy, came up with a list of very strict rules that Victoria had to follow as she grew up. This was called the Kensington System (after Kensington Palace, where they lived). It included things like having Victoria watched all the time, even when she was sleeping – she had to share a room with her mum and wasn’t allowed to have her own room. She couldn’t walk down the stairs without someone holding her hand, and she didn’t really play with other children. This was all done so Victoria would learn to depend on her mum and John Conroy, and maybe give them important roles after she became queen. But, it all went wrong – after Victoria became queen, she sent John Conroy away and gave her mum rooms that were far away from hers at Buckingham palace, so they hardly saw each other.
During Victoria’s life, there were seven times when someone tried to kill her! She survived all of them.
Victoria met Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha when she was 17. She was a few months older than Albert, and he was her cousin. They became friends and fell in love. After Victoria became queen, she decided to propose to Albert in October 1839 because she was worried that he wouldn’t know if it was proper to propose to a queen. They were married on 10 February 1840. Prince Albert wasn’t allowed to take the title of King, but Victoria involved him in the decisions she had to make. They even shared the same office, each with their own desk.
Eight of Victoria and Albert’s nine children went on to marry into other royal families around Europe. Because of this, Victoria is sometimes called the ‘grandmother of Europe’! By 1901, Victoria had 42 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren. One of her great-great-grandchildren is Queen Elizabeth II!
Victoria and Albert enjoyed celebrating Christmas very much. Prince Albert was from Germany, and carried on holding some of the Christmas traditions he was used to. These included having Christmas trees – before this time, people in Britain would have just hung a bit of holly or mistletoe rather than bring a whole tree inside and decorate it. Queen Victoria sent Christmas cards, and people began doing the same. Victoria and Albert also had a special red and gold sleigh that Albert would drive around in the snow.
Prince Albert was very involved in organising the Great Exhibition in 1851. He was interested in all the latest things to do with the arts and sciences, and celebrating the many discoveries and inventions of the Victorian era.
Prince Albert died in 1961 of typhoid fever. He was just 42, and Queen Victoria was very sad. She wore black clothes for the rest of her life to show that she was in mourning for his death. She didn’t really go out in public until quite a few years after he died. When she died in 1901, she had some of Albert’s things put in her coffin – his dressing gown, and a plaster cast of his hand.
Prince Albert Saxe-Coburg Gotha (1819-1861) – Born in Germany, Albert was Queen Victorian’s husband, and Prince Consort of Britain. He died of typhoid in 1861, and Victoria wore black mourning clothes for the rest of her life.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) – Prime Minister in 1868 and again from 1874-1880; Queen Victoria liked Disraeli very much, and the two were good friends
John Brown (1826-1883) – a servant of Queen Victoria’s at Balmoral Castle in Scotland; he and Victoria were very good friends, and he helped Victoria through the time when she was sad about the death of Prince Albert
Baroness Lehzen (1784-1870) – Victoria’s governess from Germany, who was both her teacher and advisor
Just for fun...
- Watch Horrible Histories videos about Queen Victoria: Queen Victoria - Mambo No.10, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Love Song and the Tricky Queen Vicky Song
- Read a comic about Queen Victoria's life
- Dress up as a Victorian with a Queen Victoria mask and sceptre and a Prince Albert mask and moustache
- Take this quick quiz about Queen Victoria
- Download an activity sheet and colour in your own picture of Queen Victoria
- You'll find activities, clips and photographs in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Scrapbook
- Read extracts from Queen Victoria's diaries
- At age 10 Victoria created a story about a girl called Alice Laselles as an exercise in English composition and wrote it in a notebook. The story is now kept safe in the Royal Archives, but you can read the published version, The Adventures of Alice Laselles
Best children's books about Queen Victoria
Find out more
- Watch a BBC Bitesize guide to Queen Victoria for KS1 children
- Read some children's historical fiction set in Victorian times
- Queen Victoria for kids: an overview
- An introduction to Queen Victoria and her life
- Download a resource which charts Queen Victoria's family relationships and her claim to the English throne
- Information about Prince Albert from the Kiddle Encyclopedia
- Artefacts from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's wedding, including a picture of their cake and cake boxes containing actual pieces of 167-year-old wedding cake from the Wedding Breakfast in 1840!
- A description of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's nine children
- Find out how Queen Victoria popularised our Christmas traditions
- See Victoria's bathing machine, which she used to swim on the Isle of Wight
- Look through the complete online collection of Queen Victoria's journals from the Royal Archives, including her childhood diaries
- The BBC guide to how Victoria redefined Britain’s monarchy
- Download Queen Victoria's family tree
- See pictures of all Victoria's palaces and the royal households
- Queen Victoria and photography: Victoria was the first British monarch to have her life fully recorded by the camera, and the portraits of her as a wife, mother, widow and sovereign became emblematic of the Victorian age
- Examine Victoria's family photographs to find out more about her life and reign
- Look at Franz Xaver Winterhalter's official portrait, The Royal family in 1846, and find out why Victoria liked it so much
- See a watercolour of Queen Victoria's arrival in Paris on August 1855
See for yourself
- Find out what Victoria’s childhood was like by visiting Kensington Palace
- See Balmoral Castle, which Victoria and Albert bought in 1848
- Look through artefacts from Victoria's life, including jewellery, photographs, medals and documents
- Check out Queen Victoria’s train coach at the National Railway Museum in York
- The Isle of Wight was one of Queen Victoria's favourite holiday spots. Follow in her footsteps by downloading a Queen Victoria-themed Isle of Wight tour map
- See photographs of the Royal Family on the terrace of Osborne House in 1857 and a photo of Queen Victoria and John Brown in 1868
- At the V&A in London, eight characters including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert guide you on an exciting treasure hunt to uncover some of the secrets of the Museum
- There are 78 statues of Queen Victoria in the United Kingdom, and another 56 around the world!