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Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India 1819-1901

This article was written by Sidney Lee and was published in 1901.

See this site for an extensive collection of photgraphs of Queen Victoria and her times.


The queen's descendants. — Her grandchildren.

Of her nine children (four sons — Albert Edward, prince of Wales, Alfred, Arthur, and Leopold — and five daughters — Victoria, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice), two sons, Leopold and Alfred, and one daughter, Alice, died in the queen's lifetime. She was survived by two sons — the prince of Wales and Arthur Duke of Connaught — and by four daughters — Victoria, Empress Frederick, Helena, Princess Christian, Louise, Duchess of Argyll, and Beatrice, Princess Henry of Battenberg. The eldest daughter, Victoria (Empress Frederick), died on 5 August 1901 at her seat, Friedrichshof, near Frankfort. All her children were married, and all except the Princess Louise had issue.

The queen's grandchildren numbered thirty-one at the date of her death — nine died in her lifetime — and her great-grandchildren numbered thirty-seven. Seventeen of her grandchildren were married. In two instances there was intermarriage of first cousins — viz. Grand Duke of Hesse (Princess Alice's only surviving son) with Princess Victoria Melita (Prince Alfred's second daughter), and Prince Henry of Prussia (Princess Royal's second son) with Princess Irena Marie (Princess Alice's third daughter). Other marriages of her grandchildren connected her with the chief reigning families of Europe. The third daughter of the Princess Royal (Empress Frederick), Princess Sophie Dorothea, married in 1889 the Duke of Sparta, son of the king of Greece. Princess Alice's youngest daughter (Princess Alix Victoria) married in 1894 Nicholas II, tsar of Russia, while Princess Alice's second daughter (Elizabeth) married the Grand Duke Serge of Russia, a younger son of Tsar Alexander II and uncle of Tsar Nicholas II. Prince Alfred's eldest daughter (Princess Marie) married in 1893 Ferdinand, crown prince of Roumania. Princess Maud, youngest daughter of the prince of Wales, married in 1896 Prince Charles of Denmark. Only one grandchild married a member of the English nobility, the prince of Wales's eldest daughter, who became the wife of the Duke of Fife. The remaining seven marriages of grandchildren were contracted with members of princely families of Germany.

The Emperor William II married Princess Victoria of Augustenburg. The Princess Royal's daughters, the Princesses Charlotte, Frederika Victoria, and Margaretta Beatrice, married respectively the hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen (in 1878), Prince Adolphe of Schaumburg-Lippe (in 1890), and Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse-Cassel (in 1893). Princess Alice's eldest daughter (Victoria) married in 1884 Prince Louis of Battenberg. Prince Alfred's third daughter (Alexandra) married in 1896 the hereditary Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Princess Helena's elder daughter (Louise Augusta) married in 1891 Prince Aribert of Anhalt.

There was one marriage in the queen's lifetime in the fourth generation of her family. On 24 September 1898 the eldest of her great-grandchildren, Féodora, daughter of the hereditary Princess of Saxe-Meiningen (Princess Royal's eldest daughter), married Prince Henry XXX of Reuss.

Portraits of the queen.

The queen's portrait was painted, drawn, sculptured, and photographed several hundred times in the course of the reign. None are satisfactory presentments. The queen's features in repose necessarily omit suggestion of the animated and fascinating smile which was the chief attraction of her countenance. Nor is it possible graphically to depict the exceptional grace of bearing which compensated for the smallness of her stature. Among the chief paintings or drawings of her, those of her before her accession are by Sir William Beechey, R.A. (with the Duchess of Kent), 1821; by Richard Westall, R.A., 1830; by Sir George Hayter, 1833; and by R. J. Lane, A.R.A., 1837. Those after her accession are by Alfred Chalon, in state robes (engraved by Cousins), 1838; by Sir George Hayter, 1838; by Sir David Wilkie, 1839 (in Glasgow Gallery); by Sir Edwin Landseer (drawing presented by the queen to Prince Albert), 1839; by F. Winterhalter, 1845 and other years; by Winterhalter (group with Prince Arthur and Duke of Wellington), 1848; by Sir Edwin Landseer, 1866; by Baron H. von Angeli, 1875 (of which many replicas were made for presents, and a copy by Lady Abercromby is in the National Portrait Gallery, London), 1885 and 1897; by Mr. W. Q. Orchardson, R.A. (group with prince of Wales, Duke of York, and Prince Edward of York), 1900; and by M. Benjamin Constant, 1900.

There are several miniatures by Sir W. C. Ross, R.A., and one by Robert Thorburn, A.R.A. (with prince of Wales as a child). There is a clever caricature lithographic portrait, by Mr. William Nicholson, 1897. Every leading episode in the queen's life was commemorated on her commission by a painting in which her portrait appears. Most of these memorial paintings, many of which have been engraved, are at Windsor; a few are at Buckingham Palace or Osborne. They include Sir David Wilkie's ‘The Queen's First Council,’ 1837; C. R. Leslie's ‘The Queen receiving the Sacrament at her Coronation,’ 1838, and ‘The Christening of the Princess Royal,’ 1841; Sir George Hayter's ‘Coronation,’ ‘The Queen's Marriage,’ 1840, and ‘Christening of the Prince of Wales;’ F. Winterhalter's ‘The Reception of Louis Philippe,’ 1844; E. M. Ward's ‘The Queen investing Napoleon III with the Garter’ and ‘The Queen at the Tomb of Napoleon,’ 1855; G. H. Thomas's ‘Review in Paris,’ 1855; J. Phillip's ‘Marriage of Princess Royal,’ 1859; G. H. Thomas's ‘The Queen at Aldershot,’ 1859; W. P. Frith's ‘Marriage of the Prince of Wales,’ 1863; G. Magnussen's ‘Marriage of Princess Helena,’ 1866; Sydney P. Hall's ‘Marriage of the Duke of Connaught,’ 1879; Sir James Linton's ‘Marriage of the Duke of Albany,’ 1882; R. Caton Woodville's ‘Marriage of the Princess Beatrice,’ 1885; Laurenz Tuxen's ‘The Queen and Royal Family at Jubilee of 1887;’ Sydney P. Hall's ‘Marriage of the Duchess of Fife,’ 1889; Tuxen's ‘Marriage of the Duke of York,’ 1893. The sculptured presentations of the queen, one or more examples of which is to be found in almost every city of the empire, include a bust by Behnes, 1829 (in possession of Lord Ronald Gower); an equestrian statue by Marochetti at Glasgow; a statue by Boehm at Windsor; a large plaster bust by Sir Edgar Boehm (in National Portrait Gallery, London); a statue at Winchester by Mr. Alfred Gilbert, R.A.; a statue at Manchester by Mr. Onslow Ford, R.A., 1900. A national memorial in sculpture, designed by Mr. Thomas Brock, R.A., has been placed in the Mall opposite the entrance to Buckingham Palace.

The coinage and medals.

The portrait head of the queen on the coinage followed three successive types in the course of the reign. Soon after her accession William Wyon designed from life a head which appears in the silver and gold coinage with the hair simply knotted, excepting in the case of the florin, where the head bears a crown for the first time since the coinage of Charles II. In the copper coinage a laurel wreath was intertwined with the hair. In 1887 Sir Edgar Boehm designed a new bust portrait, showing the features in mature age with a small crown and veil most awkwardly placed on the head. This ineffective design was replaced in 1893 by a more artistic crowned presentment from the hand of Mr. Thomas Brock, R.A.

Of medals on which her head appears the majority commemorate military or naval achievements, and are not of great artistic note (cf. John H. Mayo's Medals and Decorations of the British Army and Navy, 1897). Many medals commemorating events in the queen's reign were also struck by order of the corporation of London (cf. Charles Welch's Numismata Londinensia, 1894, with plates). Of strictly official medals of the reign the chief are that struck in honour of the coronation from designs by Pistrucci in 1838; the jubilee medal of 1887, with the reverse designed by Lord Leighton; and the diamond jubilee medal of 1897, with Wyon's design of the queen's head in youth on the reverse, and Mr. Brock's design of the head in old age on the obverse with the noble inscription: ‘Longitudo dierum in dextera eius et in sinistra gloria.’

The adhesive postage stamp was an invention of the queen's reign, and was adopted by the government in 1840. A crowned portrait head of the queen was designed for postage stamps in that year, and was not modified in the United Kingdom during her lifetime. In most of the colonies later postage stamps bore a portrait of the queen in old age.

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