Longest reigning British monarch and lover of all things Scottish, who presided over the flowering of the British Empire and a time of remarkable industrial progress. Born at Kensington Palace (London), the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, who died soon after her birth, and grand-daughter of King George III. Victoria was a precocious child who succeeded to the throne in 1837, aged only 18. Craving male influence, this came initially through Prime Minister Lord Melbourne but her most significant advisor was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha whom she married in 1840. Together they had nine children. Her enthusiasm for Scotland was inspired by the novels of Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) and she saw herself as a continuation of the Stuart dynasty, developing a love for everything from tartan to porridge. This led to Victoria and Albert purchasing the Balmoral Estate, on 'Royal Deeside', in 1852 and rebuilding the house in their vision of a Scots Baronial castle. The couple enjoyed their frequent visits to Scotland, with Victoria noted for her sketches of the surrounding landscape. As Albert lay ill with typhoid in 1861, it was Scott's novel Peveril Of The Peak which Victoria was reading to him when he died, aged only 42. Victoria was devastated, refused to appear in public for a period of mourning which went on for more than five years and wore black for the rest of her life. She sought seclusion at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and at Balmoral, where her relationship with her servant John Brown has been subject to much speculation. Her absence eventually brought criticism and calls for her removal. However, she quickly regained public respect when persuaded to resume her duties by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
With several of her children having married into Royal families across Europe, Victoria gained great influence. Her popularity grew with the importance of Britain in the world. In many ways she defined the role of the modern constitutional monarch; remaining above politics while mediating in crises and privately (but often forcefully) influencing her Government on matters she held dear. She supported measures to reduce poverty and was responsible for charitable works.
Victoria continued her official duties until the end of her life. Dying at Osborne House, having reigned for almost 64 years, she was buried beside her beloved Albert in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore (Windsor).