Victoria (Victoria Alexandrina), queen of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, born at Kensington palace, May 24, 1819. She is the sixth s©vereign of the house of Hanover, and is the only child of Edward, duke of Kent, fourth son of George III., and the princess Victoria Mary Louisa of SaxeCoburg-Saalf eld, relict of the hereditary prince of Leiningen. Her father died Jan. 23. 1820. Neither George IV. nor his brothers, the dukes of York and Clarence, had surviving legitimate issue, and she became heir presumptive to the throne on the accession of her uncle William IV. in 1830. Her education was intrusted to the duchess of Northumberland. On the death of William IV. without issue, June 20, 1837, the crowns of England and Hanover, which had been worn by the same person since the accession of George I. (1714), were separated, the former devolving upon the princess Victoria, and the latter, by virtue of the Salic law, falling to the duke of Cumberland, the late king's younger brother. Queen Victoria was crowned in Westminster abbey, June 28, 1838. When she came to the throne the whig ministry of Lord Melbourne was in power.
Her sympathies were with that party, and they retained the administration, in spite of a majority against them in the commons, till 1841. The first years of the queen's reign were disturbed by the rebellion in Canada, the anti-corn-law league, the chartist agitation, the Jamaica question, Irish affairs, the Afghan war (1839-42), and the war with China (1840). The revenue at the same time was steadily falling off, the deficit in 1841 being about £2,000,000. On Feb. 10, 1840, Queen Victoria was married to her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. On Aug. 30, 1841, Lord Melbourne resigned, and was succeeded by Sir Robert Peel, who retained office till 1846. Ho succeeded in placing foreign affairs on a satisfactory footing, and carried through the introduction of an income tax and the abolition of the corn laws. The ministry of Lord John Russell (1846-'52) carried the empire safely through the Irish famine and the dangers of the year of revolutions (1848), and repealed the navigation laws (1849). The conservatives held office under Lord Derby through 1852, and were succeeded by the Aberdeen coalition ministry.
Forced to give way before the pressure of. public opinion on the question of the management of the Russian war, they were followed, in February, 1855, by the Palmerston ministry, who brought to a successful close the Russian war, as well as wars with Persia and China, and were struggling with the great Indian rebellion when, in February, 1858, they were defeated on a bill to punish conspiracies against foreign potentates, and resigned. Lord Derby held office till June, 1859, when Lord Palmerston was reinstated. The rebellion in India having been put down, the possessions of the East India company were transferred to the crown in August, 1858. The friendly relations which had long existed with Napoleon III. were maintained, and neutrality preserved during the Italian war, the civil war in the United States, the Polish insurrection, and the war in Schleswig-Holstein, though decided leanings on the part of the Palmerston ministry more than once threatened serious complications. The expedition against Mexico (1861) was soon abandoned, and the protectorate over the Ionian islands was given up (1863). Lord Palmerston died in October, 1865, when the ministry was remodelled under Earl Russell. It was defeated on a clause in the reform bill in June, 1866, and gave place to a conservative ministry formed by Lord Derby, which carried a reform bill through parliament in 1867. Lord Derby resigned in February, 1868, and Mr. Disraeli became prime minister.
The Abyssinian expedition, begun under Derby, was successfully carried out. There being a majority against Disraeli in the elections of 1868, he resigned in December of that year. Mr. Gladstone was called to the premiership, and held office till the elections of 1874 showed the conservatives again in the majority. The leading events of his administration were the disestablishment of the Irish church, the Irish land act, the elementary education act, the abolition of purchase of army commissions, the negotiation of the treaty of Washington covering the Alabama claims, the passage of. the ballot act, and the Ashantee war. He was succeeded in 1874 by Mr. Disraeli, who is still (1876) prime minister. One of his most striking acts of foreign policy was the purchase of the shares of the Suez canal stock belonging to the khedive of Egypt (November, 1875). From the day of her accession to the throne Queen Victoria has enjoyed to the fullest extent the respect and affection of her subjects; yet several attempts have been made to assassinate her: one in June, 1840, by a crazy lad named Oxford; another in May, 1842, by John Francis, who was sentenced to be hanged for the offence, but the sentence was commuted to transportation for life; and a third in July of the same year, by one J. W. Bean, whose only punishment was 18 months' imprisonment.
Queen Victoria travels frequently both in her own dominions and abroad. Her mother, the duchess of Kent, died March 16, 1861, and the prince consort Dec. 14 the same year. Her grief at his death has been so intense as in a great degree to prevent her from appearing in public and at court ceremonials, though she has never neglected her duties as a sovereign. She lives in comparative seclusion, and generally spends the summer at Balmoral in Scotland. In February, 1876, she opened parliament in person for the first time since her bereavement; and in April she was authorized by an act of parliament proposed by Mr. Disraeli to assume the title of empress of India. The queen has had nine children, all of whom are living: Victoria, born in 1840, married in 1858 to the present crown prince of Prussia and of the German empire; Albert Edward, prince of Wales, 1841, married in 1863 to the princess Alexandra of Denmark; Alice, 1843, married in 1862 to Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt; Alfred, 1844, created duke of Edinburgh in 1866, and married in 1874 to the grand duch>ess Maria, only daughter of the emperor Alexander II. of Russia; Helena, 1846, married in 1866 to Prince Christian of Schleswig-Kolstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg; Louise, 1848, married in 1871 to the marquis of Lome; Arthur, 1850; Leopold, 1853; and Beatrice, 1857. - See "The Early Days of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort," compiled under the direction of the queen by Lieut. Gen. C. Grey (1867); " Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands" (1868), in which she was assisted by Sir Arthur Helps; and "Life of the Prince Consort" (1874), prepared under her direction by Theodore Martin.