Updated: May 17
The Hanoverian Monarchs of Great Britain. From George I to Queen Victoria. The House of Hanover ruled Britain for one hundred and eighty seven years. With each portrait I have included their reign years ie. R.1714-1727, & their signature. I have added selected facts that I hope you find interesting, they are not a biography but rather some facts that you may not know. And my personal selection of a recommended book for each monarch.
(b. 28 May 1660 – d. 11 June 1727) George I was King of Great Britain & Ireland from 1 August 1714 & ruler of the Duchy & Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 23 January 1698 until his death in 1727. He was the first British monarch of the House of Hanover. Born in Hanover to its Elector Ernest Augustus & Electress Sophia (Sophia was the granddaughter of King James I of England through her mother, Elizabeth of Bohemia), George inherited the titles & lands of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg from his father & uncles. A succession of European wars expanded his German domains during his lifetime; he was ratified as prince-elector of Hanover in 1708. After the deaths in 1714 of his mother & his second cousin Anne, Queen of Great Britain (r. 1702–1714), George ascended the British throne as Anne's closest living Protestant relative under the Act of Settlement 1701. Jacobites attempted, but failed, to depose George & replace him with James Francis Edward Stuart, Anne's Catholic half-brother. During George's reign, the powers of the monarchy diminished & Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a prime minister. Towards the end of his reign, actual political power was held by Robert Walpole, now recognised as Britain's first de facto prime minister. George died of a stroke on a trip to his native Hanover, where he was buried. He is the most recent British monarch to be buried outside the United Kingdom. George was ridiculed by his British subjects; some of his contemporaries, such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, thought him unintelligent on the grounds that he was wooden in public. Though he was unpopular in Great Britain due to his supposed inability to speak English, such an inability may not have existed later in his reign as documents from that time show that he understood, spoke & wrote English. He certainly spoke fluent German & French, good Latin, & some Italian & Dutch. The British perceived George as too German. However, in mainland Europe, he was seen as a progressive ruler supportive of the Enlightenment who permitted his critics to publish without risk of severe censorship, & provided sanctuary to Voltaire when the philosopher was exiled from Paris in 1726. European & British sources agree that George was reserved, temperate & financially prudent; he disliked to be in the public light at social events, avoided the royal box at the opera & often travelled incognito to the house of a friend to play cards. Despite some unpopularity, the Protestant George I was seen by most of his subjects as a better alternative to the Roman Catholic pretender James. The character of George I remains elusive; he was in turn genial & affectionate in private letters to his daughter, & then dull & awkward in public. Perhaps his own mother summed him up when "explaining to those who regarded him as cold & over serious that he could be jolly, that he took things to heart, that he felt deeply & sincerely & was more sensitive than he cared to show." Whatever his true character, he ascended a precarious throne, & either by political wisdom & guile, or through accident & indifference, he left it secure in the hands of the Hanoverians & of Parliament.
(b. 9 November 1683 – d. 25 October 1760) George II was King of Great Britain & Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) & a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death in 1760. George is the most recent British monarch born outside Great Britain: he was born & brought up in northern Germany. The Act of Settlement 1701 & the Acts of Union 1707 positioned his grandmother, Sophia of Hanover, & her Protestant descendants to inherit the British throne. After the deaths of Sophia & Anne, Queen of Great Britain, in 1714, his father, the Elector of Hanover, became George I of Great Britain. George spoke only French, the language of diplomacy & the court, until the age of four, after which he was taught German. In addition to French & German, he was also schooled in English & Italian, & studied genealogy, military history, & battle tactics with particular diligence. On 2 September 1705 he married Caroline of Ansbach in Herrenhausen. In early 1707 Caroline gave birth to a son, Frederick. In July Caroline fell seriously ill with smallpox, & George caught the infection after staying by her side devotedly during her illness. Between 1709 & 1713 George & Caroline had three more children, all girls: Anne, Amelia, & Caroline. In July 1716, the king (George I) returned to Hanover for six months, & George was given limited powers, as "Guardian & Lieutenant of the Realm", to govern in his father's absence. He made a royal progress through Chichester, Havant, Portsmouth, & Guildford in southern England. Spectators were allowed to see him dine in public at Hampton Court Palace. An attempt on his life at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in which one person was shot dead before the assailant was brought under control, boosted his high public profile.
His father distrusted or was jealous of George's popularity, which contributed to the development of a poor relationship between them. George I died on 22 June 1727 during one of his visits to Hanover, & George II succeeded him as king & elector at the age of 43. The new king decided not to travel to Germany for his father's funeral, which far from bringing criticism led to praise from the English who considered it proof of his fondness for England. George II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 22 October 1727. George Frideric Handel was commissioned to write four new anthems for the coronation, including Zadok the Priest. During the War of the Austrian Succession, George participated at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, & thus became the last British monarch to lead an army in battle. In 1745 supporters of the Catholic claimant to the British throne, James Francis Edward Stuart ("The Old Pretender"), led by James's son Charles Edward Stuart ("The Young Pretender" or "Bonnie Prince Charlie"), attempted & failed to depose George in the last of the Jacobite rebellions. Frederick died unexpectedly in 1751, nine years before his father (1761), so George II was ultimately succeeded by his grandson, George III. At the age of nearly 77 he had lived longer than any of his English or British predecessors. George donated the royal library to the British Museum in 1757, four years after the museum's foundation. He had no interest in reading, or in the arts & sciences, & preferred to spend his leisure hours stag-hunting on horseback or playing cards. In 1737, he founded the Georg August University of Göttingen, the first university in the Electorate of Hanover, & visited it in 1748. The asteroid 359 Georgia was named in his honour at the University in 1902. He served as the Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, between 1716 & 1727, & in 1754 issued the charter for King's College in New York City, which later became Columbia University. The province of Georgia, founded by royal charter in 1732, was named after him. During George II's reign British interests expanded throughout the world, the Jacobite challenge to the Hanoverian dynasty was extinguished, & the power of ministers & Parliament in Britain became well-established. George II's full style was "George the Second, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France & Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Archtreasurer & Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire".
(b. 4 June 1738 – d. 29 January 1820) George was King of Great Britain & King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke & Prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was a monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, & never visited Hanover. Family letters show that he could read and write in both English & German, as well as comment on political events of the time, by the age of eight. He was the first British monarch to study science systematically. Apart from chemistry & physics, his lessons included astronomy, mathematics, French, Latin, history, music, geography, commerce, agriculture & constitutional law, along with sporting & social accomplishments such as dancing, fencing, & riding. His religious education was wholly Anglican. On 8 September 1761 in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, the King married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whom he met on their wedding day. A fortnight later on 22 September, both were crowned at Westminster Abbey. George remarkably never took a mistress (in contrast with his grandfather & his sons), & the couple enjoyed a genuinely happy marriage until his mental illness struck. They had 15 children—nine sons & six daughters. In 1762, George purchased Buckingham House (on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace) for use as a family retreat. His other residences were Kew Palace & Windsor Castle. St James's Palace was retained for official use. He did not travel extensively & spent his entire life in southern England. In the 1790s, the King & his family took holidays at Weymouth, Dorset, which he thus popularised as one of the first seaside resorts in England. George, in his accession speech to Parliament, proclaimed: "Born & educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain." He inserted this phrase into the speech, written by Lord Hardwicke, to demonstrate his desire to distance himself from his German forebears, who were perceived as caring more for Hanover than for Britain. He aided the Royal Academy of Arts with large grants from his private funds, & may have donated more than half of his personal income to charity. Of his art collection, the two most notable purchases are Johannes Vermeer's Lady at the Virginals & a set of Canalettos, but it is as a collector of books that he is best remembered. The King's Library was open & available to scholars & was the foundation of a new national library. George was deeply devout & spent hours in prayer, but his piety was not shared by his brothers. George was appalled by what he saw as their loose morals. In 1770, his brother Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland & Strathearn, was exposed as an adulterer, & the following year Cumberland married a young widow, Anne Horton. George insisted on a new law that essentially forbade members of the Royal Family from legally marrying without the consent of the Sovereign. The subsequent bill was unpopular in Parliament, including among George's own ministers, but passed as the Royal Marriages Act 177 George III was dubbed "Farmer George" by satirists, at first to mock his interest in mundane matters rather than politics, but later to contrast his homely thrift with his son's grandiosity & to portray him as a man of the people. Under George III, the British Agricultural Revolution reached its peak & great advances were made in fields such as science & industry. There was unprecedented growth in the rural population, which in turn provided much of the workforce for the concurrent Industrial Revolution. George's collection of mathematical & scientific instruments is now owned by King's College London but housed in the Science Museum, London, to which it has been on long-term loan since 1927. He had the King's Observatory built in Richmond-upon-Thames for his own observations of the 1769 transit of Venus. When William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, he at first named it Georgium Sidus (George's Star) after the King, who later funded the construction & maintenance of Herschel's 1785 40-foot telescope, which was the biggest ever built at the time. George III lived for 81 years & 239 days & reigned for 59 years and 96 days: both his life & his reign were longer than those of any of his predecessors & subsequent kings. Only Queens Victoria & Elizabeth II have since lived & reigned longer.
(b. 12 August 1762 – d. 26 June 1830) George was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland & King of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later. From 1811 until his accession, he served as regent during his father's final mental illness. George was born at St James's Palace, London, on 12 August 1762, the first child of the British king George III & Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. George was a talented student, & quickly learned to speak French, German & Italian, in addition to his native English. At the age of 18, in dramatic contrast with his scandal-free father, he threw himself into a life of dissipation & wild extravagance involving heavy drinking & his many mistresses. He was a witty conversationalist, drunk or sober, & showed good, but grossly expensive, taste in decorating his palace. Hostility developed between the prince & his father, who wanted more frugal behaviour on the part of the heir apparent. At 21 years of age, he became infatuated with Maria Fitzherbert. She was a commoner (though granddaughter of a baronet), six years his elder, twice widowed, & a Roman Catholic. Nevertheless, the prince was determined to marry her. This was in spite of the Act of Settlement 1701, which barred the spouse of a Catholic from succeeding to the throne, & the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which prohibited his marriage without the King's consent. The couple went through a marriage ceremony on 15 December 1785 at her house in Park Street, Mayfair. Legally the union was void, as the King's consent was not granted (& was never even requested). For political reasons, the union remained secret & Fitzherbert promised not to reveal it. The prince built up huge debts by his outrageous lifestyle. His father refused to help him financially, forcing him to quit Carlton House & live at Fitzherbert's residence. In 1787, the prince's political allies proposed to relieve his debts with a parliamentary grant. Parliament, granted the prince £161,000 (equivalent to £20,609,000 today) to pay his debts & £60,000 (equivalent to £7,680,000 today) for improvements to Carlton House. The Prince of Wales's debts continued to climb, & his father refused to help him unless he married his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick. In 1795, the prince agreed; & they were married on 8 April 1795 at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace. The marriage, however, was disastrous; each party was unsuited to the other. The two were formally separated after the birth of their only child, Princess Charlotte, in 1796, & remained separated thereafter. The Prince remained attached to Maria Fitzherbert for the rest of his life, despite several periods of estrangement. The problem of the Prince of Wales's debts, which amounted to the extraordinary sum of £630,000 (equivalent to £65,568,000 today) in 1795, was solved (at least temporarily) by Parliament. Being unwilling to make an outright grant to relieve these debts, it provided him an additional sum of £65,000 (equivalent to £6,765,000 today) per year. In 1803, a further £60,000 (equivalent to £5,520,000 today) was added, & George's debts of 1795 were finally cleared in 1806, although the debts he had incurred since 1795 remained. George's coronation was a magnificent & expensive affair, costing about £243,000 (approximately £22,307,000 in 2020; for comparison, his father's coronation had only cost about £10,000, less than a twentieth of George IV's). In 1821 the King became the first monarch to pay a state visit to Ireland since Richard II of England. The following year he visited Edinburgh. His visit to Scotland, organised by Sir Walter Scott, was the first by a reigning monarch since the mid-17th century. George's heavy drinking & indulgent lifestyle had taken their toll on his health by the late 1820's. While still Prince of Wales, he had become obese through his huge banquets & copious consumption of alcohol, making him the target of ridicule on the rare occasions that he appeared in public; by 1797 his weight had reached 17 stone 7 pounds (111 kg; 245 lb). By 1824, his corset was 50 inches (130 cm) waist size. He also suffered from gout, arteriosclerosis, peripheral edema ("dropsy"), & possibly porphyria. In his final years, he spent whole days in bed & suffered bouts of breathlessness that would leave him half-asphyxiated. By December 1828, he was now almost completely blind from cataracts, & was suffering from such severe gout in his right hand & arm that he could no longer sign documents. In mid-1829, Sir David Wilkie reported the King "was wasting away frightfully day after day", & had become so obese that he looked "like a great sausage stuffed into the covering". The King took laudanum to counteract severe bladder pains, which left him in a drugged & mentally handicapped state for days on end. He underwent surgery to remove a cataract in September 1829, by which time he was regularly taking over 100 drops of laudanum before state occasions. By the spring of 1830, George's imminent end was apparent. Now largely confined to his bedchambers, having completely lost sight in one eye & describing himself "as blind as a beetle", he was forced to approve legislation with a stamp of his signature in the presence of witnesses. His weight was now recorded to be 20 stone (130 kg; 280 lb). Attacks of breathlessness due to dropsy forced him to sleep upright in a chair, & doctors frequently tapped his abdomen to drain excess fluid. Despite his obvious decline, George was admired for clinging doggedly to life. His will to live & still-prodigious appetite astonished observers; in April 1830, the Duke of Wellington wrote the King had consumed for breakfast "a Pidgeon & Beef Steak Pye...Three parts of a bottle of Mozelle, a Glass of Dry Champagne, two Glasses of Port [&] a Glass of Brandy", followed by a large dose of laudanum He died on 26 June 1830. His only legitimate child, Princess Charlotte, predeceased him in 1817; on his death, he was succeeded by his younger brother, King William IV. George was described as the "First Gentleman of England" on account of his style & manners. He was bright, clever, & knowledgeable, but his laziness & gluttony led him to squander much of his talent. The Times wrote that he would always prefer "a girl & a bottle to politics & a sermon". The Regency period saw a shift in fashion that was largely determined by George. After political opponents put a tax on wig powder, he stopped wearing powdered wigs in favour of natural hair. He then wore darker colours than had been previously fashionable as they helped to disguise his size, favoured pantaloons & trousers over knee breeches because they were looser, & popularised a high collar with neck cloth because it hid his double chin. His visit to Scotland in 1822 led to the revival, if not the creation, of Scottish tartan dress as it is known today. During the political crisis caused by Catholic emancipation, the Duke of Wellington said that George was "the worst man he ever fell in with his whole life, the most selfish, the most false, the most ill-natured, the most entirely without one redeeming quality". However, his eulogy delivered in the House of Lords called George "the most accomplished man of his age" & praised his knowledge & talent. Wellington's true feelings probably lie somewhere between these two extremes; as he said later, George was "a magnificent patron of the arts ... the most extraordinary compound of talent, wit, buffoonery, obstinacy, & good feeling—in short a medley of the most opposite qualities, with a great preponderance of good—that I ever saw in any character in my life."
(b. 21 August 1765 – d. 20 June 1837) William was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland & King of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death in 1837. He was the third son of George III & Queen Charlotte. William succeeded his elder brother George IV, becoming the last king & penultimate monarch of Britain's House of Hanover. At the age of thirteen, he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman, & was present at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780. His experiences in the navy seem to have been little different from those of other midshipmen, though in contrast to other sailors he was accompanied on board ships by a tutor. He did his share of the cooking & got arrested with his shipmates after a drunken brawl in Gibraltar; he was hastily released from custody after his identity became known. He was later nicknamed the "Sailor King". He served in New York during the American War of Independence, making him the only member of the British royal family to visit America up to & through the American Revolution. He became a lieutenant in 1785 & captain of HMS Pegasus the following year. In late 1786, he was stationed in the West Indies under Horatio Nelson, who wrote of William: "In his professional line, he is superior to two-thirds, I am sure, of the [Naval] list; & in attention to orders, & respect to his superior officer, I hardly know his equal." The two were great friends, & dined together almost nightly. At Nelson's wedding, William insisted on giving the bride away. He was given command of the frigate HMS Andromeda in 1788, & was promoted to rear-admiral in command of HMS Valiant the following year. He was created Duke of Clarence & St Andrews & Earl of Munster on 16 May 1789. William ceased his active service in the Royal Navy in 1790. When Britain declared war on France in 1793, he was anxious to serve his country & expected a command, but was not given a ship, perhaps at first because he had broken his arm by falling down some stairs drunk, but later perhaps because he gave a speech in the House of Lords opposing the war. The following year he spoke in favour of the war, expecting a command after his change of heart; none came. The Admiralty did not reply to his request. In 1798 he was made an admiral, but the rank was purely nominal. Despite repeated petitions, he was never given a command throughout the Napoleonic Wars. In 1811, he was appointed to the honorary position of Admiral of the Fleet. In 1813, he came nearest to any actual fighting, when he visited the British troops fighting in the Low Countries. Watching the bombardment of Antwerp from a church steeple, he came under fire, & a bullet pierced his coat. From 1791 William lived with an Irish actress, Dorothea Bland, better known by her stage name, Mrs Jordan. The couple had ten illegitimate children—five sons & five daughters—nine of whom were named after William's siblings; each was given the surname "FitzClarence". Their affair lasted for twenty years until 1811. Before he met Mrs. Jordan, William had an illegitimate son whose mother is unknown; the son, also called William, drowned off Madagascar in HMS Blenheim in February 1807. On 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace, William 27 years her senior, married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. William's marriage, which lasted almost twenty years until his death, was a happy one. The couple had two short-lived daughters & Adelaide suffered three miscarriages.
Did You Know? The Australian city of Adelaide was named the Queen at its founding in 1836. William was appointed to the office of Lord High Admiral, which had been in commission (that is, exercised by a board rather than by a single individual) since 1709. While in office, William had repeated conflicts with his Council, which was composed of Admiralty officers. Despite the difficulties William experienced, he did considerable good as Lord High Admiral. He abolished the cat o' nine tails for most offences other than mutiny, attempted to improve the standard of naval gunnery, & required regular reports of the condition & preparedness of each ship. He commissioned the first steam warship & advocated more. When King George IV died on 26 June 1830 without surviving legitimate issue, William succeeded him as King William IV. Aged 64, he was the oldest person yet to assume the British throne. He refused, however, to celebrate the coronation in the expensive way his brother had—the 1821 coronation had cost £240,000, of which £16,000 was merely to hire the jewels. At William's instructions, the Privy Council budgeted less than £30,000 for the coronation. When traditionalist Tories threatened to boycott what they called the "Half Crown-nation", the King retorted that they should go ahead, & that he anticipated "greater convenience of room & less heat" Unlike his extravagant brother, William was unassuming, discouraging pomp & ceremony. William was known, especially early in his reign, to walk, unaccompanied, through London or Brighton. Until the Reform Crisis eroded his standing, he was very popular among the people, who saw him as more approachable & down-to-earth than his brother. The King immediately proved himself a conscientious worker. The Prime Minister, Wellington, stated that he had done more business with King William in ten minutes than he had with George IV in as many days. The King did his best to endear himself to the people. Charlotte Williams-Wynn wrote shortly after his accession: "Hitherto the King has been indefatigable in his efforts to make himself popular, & do good natured & amiable things in every possible instance." William dismissed his brother's French chefs & German band, replacing them with English ones to public approval. He gave much of George IV's art collection to the nation, & halved the royal stud. George had begun an extensive (& expensive) renovation of Buckingham Palace; William refused to reside there, & twice tried to give the palace away, once to the Army as a barracks, & once to Parliament after the Houses of Parliament burned down in 1834. His informality could be startling: When in residence at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, King William used to send to the hotels for a list of their guests & invite anyone he knew to dinner, urging guests not to "bother about clothes. The Queen does nothing but embroider flowers after dinner." Upon taking the throne, William did not forget his nine surviving illegitimate children, creating his eldest son Earl of Munster & granting the other children the precedence of a daughter or a younger son of a marquess. During William's reign the British Parliament enacted major reforms, including the Factory Act of 1833 (preventing child labour), the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (emancipating slaves in the colonies), & the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (standardising provision for the destitute). William attracted criticism both from reformers, who felt that reform did not go far enough, & from reactionaries, who felt that reform went too far. A modern interpretation sees him as failing to satisfy either political extreme by trying to find compromise between two bitterly opposed factions, but in the process proving himself more capable as a constitutional monarch than many had supposed.
(b. 24 May 1819 – d. 22 January 1901) Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. She added the additional title of Empress of India on 1 May 1876. Known as the Victorian era, her reign of 63 years & seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, & military change within the United Kingdom, & was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (the fourth son of King George III), & Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, & Victoria, after her mother. Victoria later described her childhood as "rather melancholy". Her mother was extremely protective, & Victoria was raised largely isolated from other children under the so-called "Kensington System", an elaborate set of rules & protocols devised by the Duchess & her ambitious & domineering comptroller, Sir John Conroy, who was rumoured to be the Duchess's lover. The system prevented the princess from meeting people whom her mother & Conroy deemed undesirable (including most of her father's family), & was designed to render her weak & dependent upon them. Victoria shared a bedroom with her mother every night, studied with private tutors to a regular timetable, & spent her play-hours with her dolls & her King Charles Spaniel, Dash. Her lessons included French, German, Italian, & Latin, but she spoke only English at home. On 20 June 1837, William IV died at the age of 71, & Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. In her diary she wrote, "I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury & Lord Conyngham were here & wished to see me. I got out of bed & went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) & alone, & saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, & had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, & consequently that I am Queen." Official documents prepared on the first day of her reign described her as Alexandrina Victoria, but the first name was withdrawn at her own wish & not used again. Her coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 28 June 1838. Over 400,000 visitors came to London for the celebrations. The coronation coincided with a period of fine weather & the whole event was generally considered a major success by the press & the wider public, although those inside the Abbey witnessed a good deal of mishap & confusion, largely due to lack of rehearsal time. An accident occurred that the Queen was able to turn to her advantage, & which she later described in her journal: "Poor old Ld Rolls [actually Lord Rolle], who is 82, & dreadfully infirm, fell, in attempting to ascend the steps, – rolled right down, but was not the least hurt. When he attempted again to ascend the steps, I advanced to the edge, in order to prevent another fall". The reaction of Charles Greville, who was present, was typical of the wider public. He noted in his account that the Queen went down a couple of steps to prevent Rolle from trying to climb them again. Greville described this as "an act of graciousness & kindness which made a great sensation". The following extracts are from Victoria's account of the coronation, which she wrote in her journals.
“I was awoke at four o'clock by the guns in the Park, & could not get much sleep afterwards on account of the noise of the people, bands, etc., etc. Got up at seven, feeling strong & well; the Park presented a curious spectacle, crowds of people up Constitution Hill, soldiers, Bands, etc.” “At ten I got into the State Coach with the Duchess of Sutherland & Lord Albemarle & we began our Progress. It was a fine day, & the crowds of people exceeded what I have ever seen; many as there were the day I went to the City, it was nothing, nothing to the multitudes, the millions of my loyal subjects, who were assembled in every spot to witness the Procession. Their good humour & excessive loyalty was beyond everything, & I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a Nation. I was alarmed at times for fear that the people would be crushed & squeezed on account of the tremendous rush & pressure.” “I reached the Abbey amid deafening cheers at a little after half-past eleven; I first went into a robing-room quite close to the entrance where I found my eight train-bearers: Lady Caroline Lennox, Lady Adelaide Paget, Lady Mary Talbot, Lady Fanny Cowper, Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope, Lady Anne Fitzwilliam, Lady Mary Grimston & Lady Louisa Jenkinson — all dressed alike & beautifully in white satin & silver tissue with wreaths of silver corn-ears in front, & a small one of pink roses around the plait behind, & pink roses in the trimmings of the dresses.”
“Then followed all the various things; & last (of those things) the Crown being placed on my head — which was, I must own, a most beautiful impressive moment; all the Peers & Peeresses put on their coronets at the same instant. My excellent Lord Melbourne, who stood very close to me throughout the whole ceremony, was completely overcome at this moment, & very much affected; he gave me such a kind, & I may say fatherly look. The shouts, which were very great, the drums, the trumpets, the firing of the guns, all at the same instant, rendered the spectacle most imposing. The Archbishop had (most awkwardly) put the ring on the wrong finger, & the consequence was that I had the greatest difficulty to take it off again, which I at last did with great pain. At about half-past four I re-entered my carriage, the Crown on my head, & the Sceptre & Orb in my hands, & we proceeded the same way as we came — the crowds if possible having increased. The enthusiasm, affection, & loyalty were really touching, & I shall remember this day as the Proudest of my life! I came home at a little after six, really not feeling tired. At eight we dined.”
She became the first sovereign to take up residence at Buckingham Palace & inherited the revenues of the duchies of Lancaster & Cornwall as well as being granted a civil list allowance of £385,000 per year.
She married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace, London. Victoria was love-struck. She spent the evening after their wedding lying down with a headache, but wrote ecstatically in her diary: I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life! Victoria was stout, dowdy & only about five feet tall, but she succeeded in projecting a grand image. The biographies written by Elizabeth Longford & Cecil Woodham-Smith, in 1964 & 1972 respectively, are still widely admired. They, & others, conclude that as a person Victoria was emotional, obstinate, honest, & straight-talking. Contrary to popular belief, her staff & family recorded that Victoria "was immensely amused & roared with laughter" on many occasions. Victoria's links with Europe's royal families earned her the nickname "the grandmother of Europe". Of the 42 grandchildren of Victoria & Albert, 34 survived to adulthood. Their living descendants include Elizabeth II; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Harald V of Norway; Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden; Margrethe II of Denmark; & Felipe VI of Spain. At the end of her reign, the Queen's full style was: "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."
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