Biography of Famous Rulers Queen Victoria of England Part 4

About the famous English Queen Victoria, biography and history of the ruler.


Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria refused to attend the meetings of her Privy Council, instead opting to sit in an adjoining room with the door open. At first she was the subject of worldwide sympathy, but as her mourning dragged on and the rumors of her relationship with John Brown increased, respect for her and for the monarchy declined. It had not been at such a low ebb since the reign of Victoria's "wicked uncle," George IV.

When ill health forced Prime Minister Lord Derby to resign in 1868, he was replaced by Benjamin Disraeli, who proceeded to win the queen over and slowly coax her out of seclusion. "Everyone likes flattery," he told Matthew Arnold, "and when you come to royalty you should lay it on with a trowel." Disraeli called Victoria the "Faery Queen," and she responded by affectionately referring to him as "Dizzy." Two years later, however, her new favorite was replaced by William Gladstone, with whom she clashed over nearly everything. In 1874 the Conservatives--and Disraeli--were returned to power.

Victoria was genuinely fond of Disraeli; she shared his vision of a world empire so vast that no nation would dare tamper with it. It was an age of imperialism, and Victoria gloried in it. In 1876 she added "Empress of All India" to her title. By 1880 Victoria had acquired a huge empire that would build to a peak just before her death. Disraeli's star was again declining, however, and Gladstone and the Liberal party were returned to power in 1880.

Gladstone's anti-imperialist stance enraged her. She became infuriated when he backed out of a war with Afghanistan after the murder of a British diplomat, and they locked horns continually over the Irish question. Gladstone was a firm supporter of Irish home rule while Victoria opposed it.

At least these ministerial crises served to bring Victoria back into the public eye. To the delight of her subjects, she once more took part in the ceremonial aspects of the monarchy. She even began dancing again.

In 1887 Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking the 50th year of her reign. It was a grand spectacle. Ten years later festivities were even greater in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee, when she drove in state to St. Paul's Cathedral through streets lined by millions. It was in fact more than a jubilee. It was an extravaganza celebrating the apogee of Pax Britannia.

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