The Monday in May that precedes May 25th is marked as the holiday of Victoria Day in Canada. This “long weekend” is often celebrated by opening up one’s summer cottage for the season, fireworks, and consumption of beer. The general population knows but little about Britain’s longest reigning monarch (1837-1901)
When Princess Victoria became the queen of the British Empire she was only eighteen years of age. She came to the throne in an unusual way because she was not a king’s daughter. She was, instead, the niece of the previous king who left no legitimate heirs. Despite her youth she brought a stability and morality to the throne that had been lacking in the three previous kingships.
- King George III ruled 1760-1820 but with bouts of insanity that meant his eldest son had to take over as a regent at various times. During this period America declared its independence after a war with the British.
- King George IV ruled as king from 1820-1830 but lived an immoral life from his youth onwards. He was married to two different women but boasted of his numerous affairs and one night stands. He left no legitimate heirs.
- King William IV was George VI’s younger brother who reigned seven years. He fathered illegitimate children, but no heir survived to take his throne.
Victoria’s attitude towards her subjects and her Maker is expressed in this quotation:
“This awful responsibility is imposed upon me so suddenly and at so early a period of my Life, that I should feel utterly oppressed by the burthen [burden], were I not sustained by the hope, that Divine Providence, which has called me to this work, will give me the strength for the performance of it, and that I shall find in the purity of my Intentions and in my zeal for the public welfare that support & those resources, which usually belong to a more mature age and to longer experience.”
- Excerpt of Queen Victoria’s Coronation speech, 1838.
It was during Queen Victoria’s reign that Canada became an independent country (1867) but maintained strong ties with the Empire.