By George presents ten facts about Queen Victoria and why Canadians have so much to celebrate with this Queen and her significant contributions to the founding of our Nation and its government.
1. Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24, 1819. More than 200 years later, Canadians celebrate the birth date of this monarch with a holiday weekend. Canada is the only country in the world that has named a holiday after Queen Victoria. We have been recognizing the Queen’s contribution to our country with a “Victoria Day” since 1845 — before even the birth of our Nation.
2. As Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries from a young age of 18 in 1837, until her death age 81 in 1901, Victoria reigned 63 years and 216 days. Queen Victoria is the second longest reigning monarch in the world, only recently having this longevity milestone surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II.
3. The Queen’s reign through the 1800’s is known as the Victorian Era, named after her. It was a remarkable period of industrial, political, and scientific advancement that was spurred on with the intellect and innovation of the British and the United Kingdom emigrants who were settling in countries such as Canada. It is estimated that one-fifth of the world’s land mass became part of the British Empire and Dominions during Victoria’s reign, and hence we say of that era that “The sun never set on the British Empire.”
4. Victoria oversaw the evolution of the Crown and the gradual establishment of the modern constitutional monarchy as known in Britain and Commonwealth countries. A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch is bound to exercise powers and authorities within limits prescribed by an established legal framework. In the case of Victoria, she was recognized as a non-political head of state who presided over the countries’ legislatures and its military. Furthermore, Victoria established the Westminster Model of Government for Legislatures formed in the Commonwealth countries. This model was first introduced in Canada in 1848.
5. In 1857, Queen Victoria was responsible for selecting the Upper Canada community of Bytown (now known as Ottawa) to be the capital of Canada. Bytown was picked over the colony’s previous capitals such as Niagara-on-the-Lake, Kingston, and Montreal because the rugged lumber town was considered less vulnerable to attack from the United States.
6. Queen Victoria is known as Canada’s “Mother of Confederation” in supporting the development of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. In February that year, the Queen met with John A. Macdonald in London and gave Royal Assent to the British North American Act after it passed before the British Parliament. A new country was to be born on July 1st. Over 25 years earlier, Victoria gave Royal Assent to the 1840 Act of Union which brought together Upper Canada and Lower Canada and granted a responsible government to Canadians. Canada’s legislative heritage was founded in the Victorian Era.
7. Queen Victoria is known for her strict personal standards. Victoria’s monarchy placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values. The concept of the “family monarchy” was conceived during Victoria’s reign and the British middle classes came to embrace it. As an enthusiastic imperialist she was viewed as a benevolent matriarchal figure and widely accepted as the “mother” of the British Empire.
8. Victoria had a number of nicknames… “Mother of the British Empire” and Canada’s “Mother of Confederation.” Some of the monikers were not so complimentary. One moniker she picked up during Ireland’s infamous potato famine of the 1840’s was “The Famine Queen.” After her husband’s death, Victoria was severely depressed and became a recluse. She was widowed for 40 years and wore black for the rest of her life. In the 1860’s, due to her continuous state of mourning Victoria was tagged with the nickname “Widow of Windsor.”
9. Queen Victoria and her husband Albert had nine children over 17 years: Victoria (b. 1840), Albert Edward (b. 1841), Alice (b. 1843), Alfred (b. 1844), Helena (b. 1846), Louise (b. 1848), Arthur (b. 1850), Leopold (b. 1853) and Beatrice (b. 1857). Her children went on to have children who would marry royalty in Europe and abroad. Today, her descendants are still recognized in various royal positions: King Charles III of the United Kingdom, King Harald V of Norway, King Felipe, VI of Spain, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Phillippe of Belgium, and the most recently deceased (dethroned) King Constantine II of Greece.
10. Queen Victoria is the grand-daughter of King George III. She is the great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. And that makes Queen Victoria the great-great-great grandmother of our current King Charles.
By George encourages you to read more on the history and significance of Queen Victoria here: