Today on May 24, 1819, Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace in London.
Alexandrina Victoria reigned as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India for more than 63 years. In fact, she became the longest reigning British monarch in history (Queen Elizabeth II has since passed her milestone). Victoria was born to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, who was the fourth son of the reigning King George III. Her mother, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, was a prominent widowed German princess. At birth, Victoria was only fifth in the line of succession, behind her father and three uncles. The king’s two eldest sons failed to produce any heirs and were both estranged from their wives. Prince Edward (her father) suddenly passed away before Victoria’s first birthday along with King George the following week.
In 1820, the Prince of Wales ascended the throne as King George IV, but he too would only reign for ten years. The second eldest son, the Duke of York, passed away in 1827. As a result, the last of the four brothers became King William IV in 1830. William’s only two children died as infants, making Victoria the new heir apparent and next in line for the crown. King William reigned for a short seven years before his niece eventually succeeded him. At the young age of 18, Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. After a series of traumatic and premature deaths, the Hanover dynasty was finally in stable condition.
Queen Victoria later described her upbringing as “rather melancholy.” Most of her childhood was spent secluded from society and far away from the rest of royal family. Her mother went to great lengths to raise Victoria under the “Kensington System,” an elaborate set of royal protocols and customs. The young princess even shared a bedroom with her mother until her teenage years. It was during this time when she met her future husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Queen Victoria and Albert were indeed first-cousins but was said to have genuinely loved each other. After his early death at the age of 42, Victoria went into a deep depression and only wore black for the rest of her long life.