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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vintage Voice: A Tea Party for her Majesty, Queen Victoria

Monday, May 24th marks the anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria (1819-1901). She was born May 24, 1819 at Kensington Palace and christened Alexandrina Victoria, after Alexander,I of Russia, who was her godfather, and Victoria after her mother (The Duchess of Kent). She was named Queen Regent of the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Ireland in 1837, when she was just eighteen years old, after the death of her uncle, King William IV. Her reign lasted 63 years and 7 months, the longest female reign of any British monarch then or since. Consequently, the time of her reign was known as the Victorian Era.

I'll be joining a 'blog tea party' over at The Victorian Parlor on Saturday, May 22nd, in honor of Queen Victoria's upcoming birthday.
I invite any of my followers to check it out and anyone is welcome to join in!

 Queen Victoria I was married on February 10, 1840 to her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gothe. Together they would have nine children, whose royal marriages she arranged, tying Europe together and earning her the nickname, "Grandmother of Europe". Their marriage was reputedly a happy one and she was devastated by Prince Albert's death, from typhoid fever, in 1861. She continued to mourn him and wear black for the remainder of her life.

Queen Victoria was very popular during most of her reign; as a young mother , she helped usher in the use of anesthesia in obstetrics and surgery by having chloroform administered during the delivery of her son Prince Leopold in 1853. Before then, physicians had grave reservations about using anesthesia for pain-relief. Some called it "low-born" and an "un-natural novelty". But the royal sanction and the success of it's use during Prince Leopold's delivery and also that of his sister, Beatrice, in 1857, helped make anesthesia respectable in midwifery as well as other surgeries.
Queen Victoria's popularity also started a tradition for brides; that of wearing white on their wedding day. Before Victoria's wedding in 1840, brides typically wore their best dress for their wedding, of no particular color. Victoria wore a white dress and veil for her wedding, which then set the tradition of  brides wearing white.
Queen Victoria's reign also marked a gradual change from being a political monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, with the monarch's reign becoming more symbolic than political. Legal reforms gave more power to the House of Commons at the expense of the House of Lords and the Queen herself.
More emphasis was placed on morality and strong family values and created for Britian the concept of the "family monarchy" with which the middle classes could identify and which contrasted with the sexual, personal and financial scandals that had been associated with previous reigns and which discredited the monarchy.

Queen Victoria died on January 22,1901 of a cerebral hemmorrhage at the age of 81. Her son and heir, Edward VII, who succeeded to the throne, ended the rule of the House of Hanover (his reign would be called the Edwardian Era). Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, belonged to the of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, so Edward, their son, was part of this new house. Later, this house name would be changed to the House of Windsor by Victoria's grandson, King George V.
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