Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)

victoriaQueen Victoria (1819 – 1901)
How could we have an exhibition about 19th century Britain without involving probably its most important woman: Queen Victoria! Queen Victoria’s coronation took place on June 28th 1838, when she was 18, and she was the first monarch to live at Buckingham Palace in London.
She married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and had 9 children, all of whom married into European royal families. Victoria was often known as the grandmother of Europe.
…….but what was she doing in 1859?
The country was going through a relatively quiet period but there was a lot of fighting abroad.
India was then ruled by the British East India Company and the army in India was made up of 300,000 Indian soldiers called sepoys. The Indians however did not like the idea of Britain ruling their land. Rumours spread that new rifle cartridges were greased with cow and pig fat. This would violate both Muslim and Hindu rules. This sparked off the sepoy rebellion and on May 10th 1857 they killed every English resident in Meerut in north India.
The fighting continued until 1859 when Britain suppressed the rebellion and India became officially part of the British Empire. Queen Victoria became Empress of India.
In 1859 after forming the Liberal Party, Victoria’s Foreign Minister Lord Palmerston became Prime Minister.
The Queen was horrified: the rude old man was over 70 by then: the oldest Prime Minister in history. He was deaf and short-sighted with false teeth and dyed hair. Queen Victoria did not like him because he took no notice of her suggestions. She wanted his dismissal but her husband considered him the only one of her ministers capable of leading the country to victory in Crimea. When he became Prime minister, Palmerston sent troops to Crimea and so did Cavour – in the hope that, in exchange, Palmerston would support him against the Austrians.
So far Victoria is the longest reigning monarch of all times – although in a few months Queen Elizabeth II will have been on the throne longer.