Queen Victoria – The Longest-Reigning Monarch in British History
On September 25, 1896, Queen Victoria became the longest-reigning Monarch in British History, surpassing George III’s reign, who was King for 59 years. Victoria also left behind the longest-reigning English and Scottish Monarchs, Henry III and James VI, who had reigned for 56 and 57 years respectively. She was a Queen for 63 years and 216 days.
Grand commemorative events were planned for the occasion; however the Queen requested all public celebrations to be delayed for a year, until 1897, to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee. The double celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and her long reign were truly spectacular and were held in every corner of the British Empire. The banquet in honour of the glorious events was attended by 50 European Kings and Princes, numerous Queens and Princesses, and the Prime Ministers of all the colonies and dominions. The Jubilee procession held next day included troops from every British colony and dominion, as well as soldiers sent by Indian Princes as a mark of respect to the Empress of India. Mark Twain, who was a witness to the procession, later wrote that it “stretched to the limit of sight in both directions.”
The celebrations were marked by great display of affection for the Queen: tens of thousands of people had lined the streets to catch a glimpse of their beloved Monarch, newspapers and bulletins seemed to be unable to find enough words to express their deepest regard and devotion, foreign dignitaries were united in their praise. Although Victoria had to pass through years of unpopularity because of her prolonged mourning period, by the time of the celebrations she was immensely popular once again.
When Victoria died less than 4 years later at the age of 81, the entire country, the whole mighty British Empire was shaken. Victoria was not just a Monarch; she was a living symbol of an entire era. A lot of people were born, lived and died during her reign. She managed to turn the scandal-marred House of Hanover into a family based on morality and traditional values, one that ordinary British people could identify with.
Her funeral was held on February 2, after two days of lying-in-state: tens of thousands of silent and grieving people lined the streets once again, to pay their final respects to one of the most remarkable women in British History.
London was adorned in purple and white, in compliance with Victoria’s wishes, who always disliked black funerals. Even the nature joined the grieving people: when Victoria was laid to rest beside Prince Albert in Frogmore Mausoleum, it began to snow. Many cities across the globe showed similar marks of respect. Flags in the United States were lowered to half-staff by the orders of President McKinley – a tribute never before offered to a foreign Monarch: Edward VII repaid the honour when the President was assassinated later that year.
Victoria’s reign, the Victorian period, was the time of arguably the greatest military, political, scientific and industrial progress for Britain. The Queen steered Britain through numerous wars, calamities, triumphs and great achievements and saw Britain become the foremost global power and the vastest Empire in history – one on which the Sun never set.Filed under Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
Tagged Anniversary, Biography, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Reign.