Portrait of Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837-1901), 1842
Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke and the King died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality. Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. Victoria's father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of the reigning King of the United Kingdom, George III. Until 1817, Edward's niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, was the only legitimate grandchild of George III. Her death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent and his unmarried brothers to marry and have children. In 1818 he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children—Carl (1804–1856) and Feodora (1807–1872)—by her first marriage to the Prince of Leiningen. Her brother Leopold was Princess Charlotte's widower. The Duke and Duchess of Kent's only child, Victoria, was born at 4.15 a.m. on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London. On 20 June 1837, William IV died at the age of 71, and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. In her diary she wrote, "I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen." Official documents prepared on the first day of her reign described her as Alexandrina Victoria, but the first name was withdrawn at her own wish and not used again.
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