Edward VII (1901 - 1910)

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The young Victoria (1837 - 1861)
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The young Victoria (1837 - 1861)Victoria was the desperately desired product in 1819 of the late marriage of the Duke of Kent (George IV's brother) to Princess Victoria, widowed daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg.

Fatherless from the age of eight months, Victoria was brought up in a somewhat impoverished home -for the most part away from her uncles, George IV and William IV At 5 a.m. on the morning of 20 June 1837, the princess was woken at home in Kensington Palace to hear that she was now queen.

Swiss cottage
In 1853, Prince Albert imported a prefabricated Swiss cottage for the royal children and had it erected at Osborne. Complete with tiled kitchen and wooden dining chairs, the cottage became a playhouse where the young Princess Vicky and her sisters entertained their mother and father to tea.

Determined to live up to her new role, she vowed in her journal: 'I will be good'. Her first Prime Minister (there were to be nine more) proved a perfect tutor. Lord Melbourne was aristocratic, civilized and kind: 'he knows about everything and everybody'. The two shared an instinct for people rather than systems, respect for common sense and an enjoyment of life. Victoria's coronation in 1838 was an ordeal borne bravely, and the following year came the queen's most momentous choice - of her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as husband.

Victoria was ecstatic. Albert was 'quite charming and so excessively handsome, such beautiful blue eyes, and exquisite nose ... '. The wedding took place on 10 February 1840 in the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace.

Albert gave stalwart support. Serious, intelligent, hard working and interested in modernizing-be it social reform, drains or the 1851 Great Exhibition - the prince was determined to do his best. Yet he was never popular; never quite belonged. Perhaps the cynical English found him too good to be true.

Victoria and Albert had nine children. When the first, 'Vicky', was born in November 1840, the attending physician was heard to say, 'Oh, Madam, it is a princess.' The exhausted Victoria replied: 'Never mind, the next will be a prince.' And it was.

A son, the Prince of Wales, arrived in November 1841. 'The Boy' was christened with his 'dear father's name', Albert Edward, but soon became known as 'Bertie'. The queen's last child, Beatrice, was born in 1857.

Queen in council
Queen Victoria's Privy Councillors were struck by her composure. Lord Grey commented: 'She never was in the least degree confused, embarrassed or hurried.'

The young Victoria (1837 - 1861)

Travelling in style
One of the queen's railway coaches, now on display at the National Railway Museum, York. Victoria was the first monarch to travel by train.

The young Victoria (1837 - 1861)

Royal family
The Winterhalter painting (1846) of stately domesticity shows the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) beside the queen. The baby is Princess Helena, born in May 1846.

The young Victoria (1837 - 1861)

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