Queen Victoria at her Golden Jubilee (1187) During Queen Victoria’s long reign, Britain became an industrial, urban society (with many large cities and factories). It also gained a huge empire overseas empire that included India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and large parts of Africa—in all, covering almost a quarter of the world’s land area. When others in line to the throne ahead of her unexpectedly died, Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, aged 18. In 1840, she married her cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It was a happy marriage, but when Albert died in 1861, Victoria went into deep mourning. She retired from public life for years but she gradually returned to her duties and became a much-loved monarch until her death in 1901. Her children and grandchildren married into all the major royal houses of Europe, giving her the name "grandmother of Europe".
Victoria was born in 1819. She was the daughter of the fourth son of George III, so at the time it was thought unlikely she would ever inherit the throne. But after her uncles George IV, Prince Frederick and William IV died, leaving no surviving children, and her own father died while she was a baby, Victoria unexpectedly became heir and ascended the throne in 1837, aged 18. Her early years were dominated by the strict Sir John Conroy, who wielded great influence with her mother, the Duchess of Kent. Conroy and her mother kept her in isolation in an attempt to make her completely dependent on them. Instead, Victoria became devoted to her governess, Louise Lehzen. Despite her unhappy upbringing, the warm-hearted and lively Victoria had a gift for drawing. She kept a journal throughout her life.
Queen Victoria was the first reigning monarch to travel by train. She made her first train journey in 1842.
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