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Queen Victoria
Victoria (queen) (1819-1901), queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837-1901) and empress of India (Her reign was the longest of any monarch in British history and came to be known as the Victorian era.
Queen Victoria was the official head of state not only of the United Kingdom but also of the growing worldwide BritishEmpire, which included Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, and large parts of Africa. As the personal embodiment of her kingdom, Victoria was eager to ensure that her country was held in high esteem throughout the world as an economically and militarily powerful state and as a model of civilization. Victoria brought to the British monarchy such 19th-century ideals as a devoted family life,earnestness, public and private respectability, and obedience to the law. During the later years of her reign, the monarchy attained a high degree of popularity among most of its subjects.
The young Queen Victoria fell in love with Ireland. In June 1845 came "The Great Famine". As the nineteenth century progressed, the Irish became very dependent on the potato for their main food source. In fact, amajority of rural people lived on it completely (It was estimated that the average pre-famine adult consumed 12-14 pounds of potatoes a day). Several English committees that studied the economic situation in Ireland warned that if there was a major failure of the potato crop, extensive starvation would result. All these warnings were ignored.
This famine had catastrophic consequences for Ireland. Inthe following six years, 1845-'51 Ireland lost over two million of her people to starvation, disease and emigration. Large numbers emigrated to the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain. Most of them were never to return to the land of their birth.
In response to what came to be called the Irish Potato Famine, the Queen personally donated 2,000 pounds sterling to thestarving Irish people. This made her the largest single donor to famine relief. More important, Victoria published two ‘Queen’s Letters’, the first in March 1847 and the second in October 1847, asking people in Britain to donate money to relieve Irish distress.
However, the policies of her minister Lord John Russell were often blamed for exacerbating the severity of the famine, which adverselyaffected the Queen's popularity in Ireland.
Victoria's first official visit to Ireland, in 1849, was specifically arranged by Lord Clarendon, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—the head of the British administration—to try to both draw attention from the famine and alert British politicians through the Queen's presence to the seriousness of the crisis in Ireland.
Negative impact of the famine onQueen’s popularity: During the Queen's visit, at one banquet, $5,000 was spent on food and wine alone. Irish were disgusted with the overwhelming spending. They wondered how in this land where hundreds of thousands were starving, where a family of six could be kept alive for a week for less than $1, the Queen's government could justify spending thousands of dollars to entertain a privileged few for onenight.
There was one important long-term political consequence. The descendants of those who fled to the United States from famine-stricken Ireland kept alive in the Irish-American community a deep feeling of bitterness towards the British government and towards British rule in Ireland. As a result, they were a fertile source of funding for all Irish nationalist movements, parliamentary andmilitary, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The length of Queen Victoria’s reign gave an impression of continuity to what was actually a period of dynamic change as Britain grew to become a powerful industrialized trading nation. The queen sympathized with some of these changes—such as the camera, the railroad, and the use of anesthetics in childbirth. She felt...
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