Victoria, Queen of Awesome

20 Feb

You know, as I explore more of the world, I can’t help but come to an obvious if slightly controversial opinion about geography: the British were terrifically bad at naming things. I mean, there’s a half-dozen Londons, Bristols, Surreys, New Englands, New South Wales, New York, New whatever across the globe. Reading off the list of neighborhoods in the Sydney metropolitan area, a listener could easily be confused with London tube stations. Even a casual Anglophile like myself* gets a little mixed up. But man, do they ever like to name stuff after their royalty.

Australia is awash with Victoria places, monuments, plaques, and statues. There’s one of her favorite dog just outside the spectacular Queen Victoria Building. This makes sense, given that she was the queen (Empress?) of Australia at its’ founding. My favorite is a pair of statues just off the main cathedral in downtown Sydney, one of her and one of her consort, Prince Albert.

Guess who’s more important.

Sorry about the terrible pic resolution.  The inscriptions read: “VICTORIA” and “The People of New South Wales to ALBERT the GOOD, Prince Consort of QUEEN VICTORIA 1866”.

Yeah, sorry Albie.

Victoria’s just a really weirdly awesome person, anyways. I mean, how does a half-German princess who speaks German and marries a German prince become Queen of England, let alone Empress of India and the British Empire**? The answer lies in the supremely interconnected royal families of Europe. But mostly, it happened because all the dudes in her father’s family kicked the bucket without having any male children.

Victoria was the daughter of an English Prince and a German Princess. Said English prince, Edward, was the fourth son of King George III. In the intervening years between Victoria’s birth to her 18th majority, all five people in line for the throne died, mostly due to old age. Victoria grew up isolated but very well educated by her strict mother. She ascends to the throne at the tender age of 18. At this point, Britain is already a constitutional monarchy, so she has little real political power, but a great deal of influence. Unfortunately, as an unmarried woman, she still has to deal with conventional social mores, which means she still has to live with her mom. Not even the Queen gets out of this sort of crap. There’s a couple of names being bandied about, but Victoria has eyes for only one of them, a handsome German prince who happens to be her first cousin. Eww. Despite this, they fall in love. Good for her.

So Victoria marries Albert and from all accounts*** it was a happy marriage. They have a bunch of kids, every thing’s fine. Then, Albert dies of typhoid fever at the age of 42. Victoria’s completely distraught over the untimely death of her husband, puts on the mourning black, and keeps her youngest daughter at her side permanently. **** The other kids marry well, which is actually a bit of a problem. See, Victoria is a carrier for hemophilia, a disease where your blood doesn’t clot, so a paper cut becomes deathly serious. This means two of her daughters were carriers and her son Leopold had the disease. Suddenly, the royal families of Europe are infected with hemophilia as well, the most famous example being the Romanov’s of Russia.

(Inbreeding is bad, kids. Here’s a basic rule of genetics: if you’re close enough to know how you’re related, you’re too close to marry.*****)

ANWYAYS, in between being not amused, Queen Victoria also did interesting things like fending off at least eight assassination attempts, had nine kids, and kept a detailed daily journal, averaging about 2500 words a day.  She’d totally win a NaNoWriMo with that sort of word count.  In the end, Queen Victoria held the throne for an astonishing 63 years, the longest reigning British Queen and the longest reigning Queen in world history.

*If the definition of Anglophile is “someone who watches Doctor Who and Top Gear”.

**Did a bit of research, almost certainly have still got the title mixed up. British people still wince when I call everyone from the UK “English”.

*** Kate Beaton’s Hark A Vagrant is a valid historical source, right?

****According to Mom, this is a common (if old fashioned) practice among the Irish, where the youngest girl wouldn’t marry but would stay with the parents and care for them in their old age.

*****Yes, yes, I know that in cases where you want to strengthen certain characteristics like in champion dog breeding or trying for the Kwisatz Haderach, you often breed closely to the line. This also results in things like hip dysplasia, the Hapsburg chin, or congenital idiocy.

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One Response to “Victoria, Queen of Awesome”

  1. Steph February 23, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    I like everything about this post down to the Dune reference (and despite the misspelling of Surrey)! Good advice about the inbreeding thing… hemophilia, methemeglobinemia (could you imagine blue royalty?!), sickle cell anemia are just the tip of a massive iceberg. At least Vicky and Al were in love.

    You should add “Potter fan” and discerning “tea drinker” to the list of your Anglo-riffic traits. Might add some extra credibility. As would visiting me :)

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