Monday, 20 June 2016

The beginning of the age of Victoria

Queen Victoria ascended the throne on June 20th 1837
(picture Wiki Commons)

This time last year, June 20th marked the anniversary of the start of the longest reign in British history. In 2016, it is the anniversary of the beginning of the second longest rule by a British Monarch. The historical goalposts have moved but the beginning of the age of Victoria is still a moment in time worth remembering.

For despite being moved down the pecking order of record reigns by her great, great granddaughter, the woman who ruled an empire on which the sun never set has made an epic mark on history which still resounds today. Her name belongs to the best part of a century, the Victorian Era, and she stood at the helm during a time which changed her country forever.

Victoria was a longed for heiress whose birth was greeted with as much longing that soon there would be a son in the royal House of Hanover whose appearance would mean she would never rule. Her family needed her but also assumed that the daughter of the fourth son of George III wouldn't actually take the throne. She was an unexpected queen in many ways but she altered and shaped what it was to rule and to be royal.

For Victoria was really the first monarch to take the ceremonial role that we know of constitutional monarchy today. Wise enough to know at an early age that her widowed mother, the Duchess of Kent, was trying to control her and smart enough to see that winning the confidence of her Prime Ministers was the way to secure a strong place for the Royal Family in a rapidly changing world. Victoria's attitude to monarchy might have seemed hands off at times but it shaped a role for it at a time of social change that would provide strong foundations for the 20th century.

Behind the scenes, this only child of a younger son set about creating a royal dynasty that provided roots for many of the ruling houses we know today. Victoria's masterful match making made marriages in royal heaven that tied her name to that of crowns across Europe and ensured her descendants held power across the continent.

Victoria is told she is queen on the morning of June 20th 1837

It all began today when a young girl, who had just turned eighteen, found out that her beloved uncle, William IV, had died. She had gone to bed as heiress and was woken to be told she was now Queen. A reign that would write its name in the history books had begun - it was the start of the age of Victoria.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons public domain.

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