Queen Victoria was born in London on 24th May 1819, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg. It was never expected that she would be Queen but she succeeded her uncle, William IV, in 1837, at the age of 18.
In 1840 she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. They had a happy marriage that lasted for 20 years and had nine children. During that time Britain was evolving into a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch had few powers and was expected to remain above party politics, although Queen Victoria did express her views in private. She served as a very important symbolic figure.
After the Indian Mutiny in 1857, the Government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown and in 1877, Victoria became Empress of India. Her empire also included Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, and large parts of Africa. During this period, the Crimean War was the only conflict Britain was involved in.
Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale met on many occasions and exchanged correspondence. Throughout the Crimean War, Queen Victoria requested to see Florence’s reports on the wounded and consulted her on what royal gifts should be sent to the sick and wounded.
After Florence returned from the War Queen Victoria presented her with a jewel to thank her for her work and they met at Balmoral in October 1856. They continued to correspond and exchange letters and in 1883, Florence was invited to Windsor to receive the Royal Red Cross.
Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great enthusiasm. Having witnessed a revolution in British government, huge industrial expansion and the growth of a worldwide empire, she died on 22nd January 1901 at the age of 81.