8 fascinating facts you (probably) didn’t know about Queen Victoria

2019-01-17 12:12

Victoria, the fascinating British series starring Jenna Coleman, is into its second season on Showmax, and it’s getting better than ever. It’s been praised for being true to life - so before you get hooked, here are some fascinating facts about the real-life Queen.

1. Her name wasn’t Victoria

In the series, you’ll often hear Victoria’s mother calling her Drina. Her birth name was Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, and she was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. He was the fourth son of King George III, but all his older brothers died without having children, leaving Victoria to inherit the throne from her uncle, William IV. Upon accession, she chose Victoria as her regnal name because she’d always liked it better, just like Queen Elizabeth II’s father chose George as his regnal name rather than his real name, Albert.

2. She loved animals

In the first season, Victoria is devastated when her King Charles Spaniel, Dash, dies. Dash was the princess’s dog in real life, given to her when she was 13. As she was raised in a palace with almost no friends, the dog became her constant companion.

Victoria had many other dogs during her life, including Pomeranians and Skye terriers, and is credited with making dachshunds fashionable. She also kept birds and ponies and even had a herd of Tibetan goats.

3. She was a bit of a property developer

Victoria was the first monarch to live at Buckingham Palace, and she gave it a right royal makeover. It had no nurseries and had too few bedrooms, so she had it remodelled into its current form.

Prince Albert also purchased Balmoral Castle in Scotland for Victoria, and it became one of their favourite retreats. In 1878, Victoria bought an entire forest neighbouring her estate to save it from being cut down for timber.

4. She started the trend of white wedding dresses

The advent of photography meant that Victoria’s reign was the first time ordinary women were able to copy some of the royal style. Mass production also meant that her jewellery and clothes could be copied at scale.

Famously, Victoria chose a white wedding dress at a time when colourful dresses were more in vogue, kicking off a trend that continues to this day.

5. She proposed to Albert

As depicted in the series, Victoria was just 18 when she ascended to the throne, and in no rush to marry. She thought a husband would try to tell her what to do (and in the second season, he gives it a go after she gives birth to their first child).

But she was enchanted by her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his father was her mother’s brother), and, as the monarch, proposed to him.

6. She had a special tiny crown made

Most people think of Victoria as she is in many statues - older, a bit dumpy and in her widow’s weeds.

After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, at just 42, she always wore a cap over her hair, and had a small diamond crown made to fit over the cap. It contains 132 carats of diamonds, and it’s just like the official Imperial State Crown, only smaller - she found the full-sized version uncomfortable and heavy (it weighs over a kilogram).

Other queens have worn the small crown since, but the Queen Mother wasn’t fond of it and retired it to live in the Tower of London with the other Crown Jewels.

7. She spoke several languages

Victoria’s husband, her governess/companion Baroness Lehzen (whose story gets dramatic in Season 2), her mother and many members of her family were all German, so it’s no surprise that Victoria was fluent in the language.

She also spoke French, Italian and Latin, and later in life learned some Hindustani - as depicted in the movie Victoria and Abdul (which you can watch on DStv Now).

8. She was the grandmother of Europe

In their 21-year marriage, Victoria and Albert had nine children. Those children went on to marry other royals, and her 42 grandchildren married into all the royal families of Europe.

Victoria was the grandmother of an emperor, a king-emperor (Edward VII), four queens consort and an empress consort.

And while they were enemies in World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, King George V of England and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia had one thing in common - they were all grandchildren of Victoria.

Watch Victoria now on Showmax.

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