On this day in 1901, “Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India,” passes away from intra-cerebral hemorrhage. With a reign of 63 years, seven months and two days, Victoria at 81 was the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest-reigning queen regnant in world history until her great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth II surpassed her on September 9, 2015.
Victoria’s reign saw great cultural and territorial expansion, massive civic and sanitation improvements, advances in industry, science, medicine and communications and the building of railways and the London Underground. Outliving the terms of 10 different British Prime Ministers, her beloved husband Albert (also her first-cousin) of Saxe-Coburg and several assassination attempts, she also inspired a Masterpiece series which killed it on PBS.
One of the major factors that helped Britain avoid European entanglements of the 19th century were the marriages of Victoria’s children. Either directly or by marriage, she was related to the royal houses of nearly every major European power, with the exceptions of France and Spain; her eldest grandson became Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Though the English constitutional arrangement denied her powers in foreign affairs, she ruled her family with an iron hand that largely helped keep Great Britain away from the intrigues of European politics.
After her death, an array of mementos commemorating her extended family, friends and servants were laid in Victoria’s coffin with her, at her request, by her doctor and dressers. One of Albert’s dressing gowns was placed by her side, with a plaster cast of his hand, while a lock of John Brown’s hair, along with a picture of him, was placed in her left hand concealed from the view of the family by a carefully positioned bunch of flowers. Items of jewelry placed on Victoria included the wedding ring of John Brown’s mother, given to her by Brown in 1883. Her funeral was held on February 2 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and after two days of lying-in-state, she was interred beside Prince Albert in Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park.
And here, our lengthy Victorian story endeth.