Did Queen Victoria introduce Victorian morality?

Queen Victoria

Corbis-Bettmann, New York
Albert v. Saxe-Coburg-G.
Queen Victoria with son Edward and Tsar and Tsarina

Undated group picture with Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901), Prince Edward VII (right), Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918), his wife Tsarina Alexandra (Alice of Hesse) and daughter Olga.

Corbis-Bettmann, New York
Viktoria was the only child of Duke Eduard von Kent and the German Princess Marie Luise von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. Their coronation fell in the phase of the first internal reforms, triggered not least by the style of government of their predecessors. Already George IV (reign. 1820–1830) had brought the royal house into disrepute through ostentatiousness and affairs and under the contentious eccentric Wilhelm IV (reigned 1830–1837) her uncle, reforms had finally become inevitable. The first step was the expansion of the right to vote in the parliamentary reform of 1832.

Soon after, a rapid upswing in national prosperity began. Customs duties were abolished and free trade was fully introduced in 1853, economy and industry flourished and England was considered the "workshop of the world" - but at the same time social inequality grew. In addition, the Empire appeared with an undisguised pursuit of colonial expansion, expanded its position of power and opened overseas markets for domestic industry.


Viktoria accompanied all aspects of day-to-day politics with dedication. At the beginning of her reign, the young queen found one of her closest confidants in the two-time Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. Thanks to his influence, she gave her full support to the Whigs, the later Liberal Party, at least at first. Because in October 1839 she met her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and the wedding took place in the following February. The marriage, which resulted in nine children between 1840 and 1857, was extremely happy and harmonious.

In Albert Victoria not only had a husband, but also a political advisor who, despite some resistance from outside, took an extremely active part in the day-to-day business of the queen. Domestically, there had been heated and ongoing disputes since the early 1830s, and liberal and conservative governments regularly replaced each other in parliament. The bone of contention were the social and political reforms: labor law, welfare, education, parliament itself. The main opponents were Robert Peel and Lord Palmerston, later Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. After the fall of the Melbourne government in 1841, Albert had convinced his wife of Peel's conservative policies and so she switched sides.

Victoria also shared the view with her husband that the monarch was not only there to represent and demanded the crown's right to have a say, especially in foreign policy matters, a matter that the liberal Palmerston, foreign minister from 1846 to 1851 and later twice premier, deliberately ignored .

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