May 24 marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth, but in 1819, no one could have anticipated that one day, an entire era would be named after the Duke of Kent's newborn daughter.
While her father was George III's fourth son, Victoria was closer to the throne than today's youngest British royal, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Her father's older brothers, Victoria's "wicked uncles," hadn't produced any living legitimate heirs.
Victoria became queen on June 20, 1837, just four weeks after her 18th birthday. The world was immediately captivated. Her life and times have been thoroughly documented. There are countless biographies of Victoria, including:
Victoria's passionate relationship with her husband, Prince Albert, has also inspired multiple volumes. Arguably, the true "Victorian" was Albert, who was also Victoria's first cousin. Straight-laced Albert brought a strong sense of duty and discipline to Victoria's world.
Victoria and Albert had nine children, and Albert dreamed of uniting Europe through a network of royal marriages. After his untimely death at 42, Victoria did her best to carry this out, with mixed results. Nevertheless, by the end of her life she was known as the "Grandmother of Europe." Her descendants currently sit on almost every remaining European throne.
Victoria's life has inspired novels, movies and TV series, among them:
A toast to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria!