At 4:15am, on 24th May 1819, a baby girl was born at Kensington Palace who would go on to define one of the most prosperous and influential periods in British history, though she was never meant to. Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent’s was the Daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn – fifth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte – and Princess Victoria of Saxe Coburg-Saalfeld.
Princess Alexandrina was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24th June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. She was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria after her Mother. There were additional names proposed by her parents including, Georgina, Charlotte and Augusta, however they were dropped on the instructions of The Duke of Kent’s eldest brother, the Prince Regent.
At her birth, Victoria was fifth in the Line of Succession behind King George III’s four eldest sons – the Prince Regent, Frederick, Duke of York, William, Duke of Clarence and The Duke of Kent.
Victoria’s father died when she was less than one year old in January 1820. A week later her Grandfather, King George III, died and her uncle became King George IV. During his reign, Frederick, Duke of York, died in 1827 and in 1830 King George IV died without legitimate issue – his daughter, Princess Charlotte had died shortly after childbirth in 1817, had she survived, the face of the British Monarchy would have been very different.
The Crown passed to King William IV in 1830 and Victoria became Heiress Presumptive. At the age of 64, William was the eldest person yet to assume the British throne and it was highly unlikely he would have any more children. The Regency Act 1830 made special provision for Victoria’s mother to act as Regent if William died before Victoria’s 18th birthday. It is well known that William had a dislike for Victoria’s mother and in 1836 he declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria was 18 so a Regency could be avoided at all costs.
On 24th May 1837, Victoria turned eighteen and a Regency was avoided when King William IV passed away less than a month later on 20th June 1837. Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom and all British Dominions and she would go on to reign for over 63 years – the second longest reign in British history, only to be surpassed by her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
The 24th May 1819 is an extremely important date in British history, it was the day a girl was born who would go on to shape the future of the modern monarchy we know and love today.
Queen Victoria’s reign is one of the most famous in our nation’s history and as she aged, she became the embodiment of empire as a benevolent matriarchal figure – also known as the Grandmother of Europe. Though her reign saw more gradual establishment of constitutional monarchy and her monarchy became more symbolic than political, the name Queen Victoria still evokes a sense of Empire and Patriotism.
And contrary to popular belief, Queen Victoria was often amused!