A guide to...
Who was Queen Victoria?
Victoria was a British Queen who reigned from 1837 to 1901. At the time of her death, she was the longest-reigning British monarch, but she has since been overtaken by Queen Elizabeth II. The 'Victorian' period of history is named after her.
What was her early life like?
Victoria was born in London in 1819 to her parents, Edward (son of King George III) and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg. Her father died when she was very young and she had no brothers or sisters. Her upbringing was strict and lonely.
As she grew older, her mother tried to prepare her for the possibility of becoming queen one day by making sure she received a good education and knew what ruling a country might entail. Her mother helped her to see how ordinary people lived their lives by taking her on a tour of England. Victoria was very clever and learned to speak in many different languages. She was a gifted painter. She also enjoyed writing in her journal, which she did every day from being a teenager until her death.
What happened when she became queen?
Victoria became queen when she was 18 years old in June 1837. Although some people thought she was too young to be a powerful ruler, Victoria was a strong character and brought a renewed sense of energy and determination to the British monarchy.
Three years later, Victoria married Prince Albert, who went on to help her run the country. Victoria and Albert had 9 children: Victoria, Edward, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice. By the time she died, Victoria also had 40 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren!
Victoria took her duties as queen very seriously. Every week she held long meetings with the prime minister to discuss what was happening in her kingdom. Her reign is regarded as a time of growth and prosperity, as it was a time when Great Britain became the largest empire in the world.
What was the big turning point in her life?
Two terrible things happened in 1861, when Victoria was 42 years old. First Victoria’s mother died and then later in the same year her beloved husband Albert died too.
Queen Victoria grieved heavily for Albert. From that day on, she dressed in black clothes to show that she was in mourning and continued to do this for the rest of her life. For a while, she was too sad to engage in her duties as queen, but after some time she returned and focused on growing the British empire. She also created a number of memorials to her husband, like the Royal Albert Hall.
When did she die?
When Victoria herself died in 1901 at the age of 81, she was buried next to her husband. Many British people were very sad when she died because she had been such a popular queen.
You can find a full KS2 lesson plan about Queen Victoria in our Victorians KS2 Resource Pack.