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24 Fascinating Facts About Queen Victoria Most People Don’t Know

Canadians know Victoria Day as the unofficial start of summer, but what of the woman it's named for? Brush up on your royal trivia with these fascinating facts about Queen Victoria, Canada’s “Mother of Confederation.”

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Queen Victoria grew up in Kensington Palace in LondonPhoto: ShutterStock

Queen Victoria’s birthplace is now home to William and Kate

Kensington Palace, the current London abode of William and Kate—the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—was Queen Victoria’s birthplace. Born on May 24, 1819, Victoria spent much of her childhood at Kensington, raised by her widowed mother (Victoria’s father died when she was eight months old) and several royal courtiers.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - young Victoria portraitPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria’s first name wasn’t actually Victoria

Christened Alexandrina (but called Drina as a child), she started using Victoria—her middle name—at 18 when she ascended to the throne.

Find out the most popular baby name from the year you were born.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - Westminster AbbeyPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria wasn’t supposed to be queen

Can you imagine Prince Harry as king—even before the scandal of his stepping down from royal duties? Back in 1837, the unthinkable became reality for Victoria. At birth, Victoria was fifth in line to the throne, but the deaths of various princes and a lack of male heirs resulted in the young woman capturing the crown.

The site of Victoria’s coronation—Westminster Abbey (above)—is just one of 50 London attractions worth adding to your bucket list.

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Queen Victoria and Prince AlbertPhoto: ShutterStock

Queen Victoria proposed to her husband

At age 16, Victoria met her future husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who also happened to be her first cousin. After four years of friendship and flirtation, Queen Victoria proposed to her prince (actually, she had no choice—according to tradition, a man couldn’t propose to the queen). The smitten couple married in 1840.

Check out more fascinating facts about royal weddings of the past.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - white wedding dressPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria is the reason wedding dresses are white

The young queen was a wedding trendsetter. In 1840, it wasn’t the norm to see a bride wearing white. The colour was thought to be boring and conservative, but Victoria didn’t care. She chose simplicity over opulence, and her lacy silk-satin grown—crafted from the finest British textiles—gave a much-needed boost to the struggling lace trade. Several years later, a women’s publication stated that white was the “most fitting hue” for brides, and a tradition was born.

Take a look back at the fascinating details you probably missed from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

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Queen Victoria facts - newborn baby feetPhoto: Shutterstock

She spent almost two decades pregnant

Victoria and Albert’s first child, Princess Victoria, was born nine months after their wedding. But little Vicky wasn’t an only child for long. A year later, she had a baby brother for company, and within 17 years, the royal household boasted nine children: four boys and five girls.

Find out what foods royal babies are allowed to eat.

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Queen Victoria facts - Prince PhilipIllustration: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

She mourned her husband for 40 years

After 21 years of marriage, Queen Victoria became a widow. In 1861, her beloved Prince Albert died from typhoid. Consumed with grief, Victoria would spend her next 40 years of life wearing only black clothing, and would rarely be seen in public.

Read the fascinating story of the gem in the royal crown that’s said to be cursed.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - Windsor CastlePhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria spoke several languages

If you thought being bilingual made you an overachiever, you’re about to get schooled. Queen Victoria was fluent in no fewer than five languages: English, German, French, Latin, and Italian. She also learned a little Hindustani and Urdu in order to chat with her Indian servants at Windsor Castle (above).

For more royal lore and legends, check out the secrets of Windsor Castle.

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Queen Elizabeth longest reigning monarchPhoto: Shaun Jeffers /

Queen Victoria is the second-longest reigning British monarch

Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years, and up until September 2015, was the longest reigning British monarch. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, now holds the title.

Here are 20 things you probably didn’t know about Queen Elizabeth.

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Changing of the Guard at Buckingham PalacePhoto: ShutterStock

She survived eight assassination attempts

Queen Victoria may have been one of the longest reigning monarchs, but she was also one of the luckiest. On at least eight occasions—most of them while riding in her open carriage—would-be assassins tried to kill her. She also had a stalker. A man by the name of Edward Jones broke into the royal residence at Buckingham Palace several times, and was eventually caught—but not before he sat on her throne and stole her underwear.

Although carriages are still used for ceremonial occasions, you’ll be more likely to spot today’s royal family driving these cars.

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Queen Victoria statue in the Library of Parliament Reading Room, OttawaPhoto: Felix Lipov /

Queen Victoria was Canada’s “Mother of Confederation”

On March 29, 1867, Queen Victoria granted Royal Ascent to the British North America Act (known today as the Constitution Act, 1867)—paving the way for Canada’s unification as a country. The Act would come into effect on July 1, 1867, now known around the world as Canada’s birthday.

Put your knowledge of the past to the test with these tricky history questions.

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Victoria Day fireworks in Toronto CanadaPhoto: Elena Elisseeva /

Canada is the only country in the world to commemorate Queen Victoria with a holiday

In 1845, Canadian officials declared Victoria’s birthday, May 24, a national holiday. Today, Victoria Day is observed on the Monday that falls before May 24, which makes it a long weekend in every province west of Quebec.

Check out the 10 most memorable royal tours of Canada.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are descendants of Queen VictoriaPhoto: ShutterStock

She’s related to Queen Elizabeth II… And her late husband, Prince Philip.

Our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the great-great granddaughter of Queen Victoria, but the family connections don’t stop there. Queen Elizabeth’s late husband, Prince Philip, was also one of Victoria’s great-great grandchildren, making the royal couple third cousins. Of course, this means princes William and Harry continue Queen Victoria’s lineage, too: they are her great-great-great-great grandsons.

Take a look back at the incredible life of Prince Philip.

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Victoria BC is named after Queen VictoriaPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria’s name is connected with more places in Canada than anyone else’s

Schools, parks, counties, roads—everywhere you look in our country, you’ll find variations of her name or royal title. Not one, but two provincial capitals—Regina and Victoria—can thank the Queen for their names, and there are hundreds of Queen streets dotted all around the country. Even her family got in on the name game: the province of Alberta is named after the Queen’s daughter Princess Louise Alberta, and Prince Edward Island was a tribute to Victoria’s late father.

Fun fact: Victoria’s Fairmont Empress is just one of 10 hotels across Canada that have hosted royal guests.

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Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonPhoto: Kiev.Victor /

Queen Victoria’s name lives on around the world

Canada doesn’t have a monopoly on dedications to Queen Victoria. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London (above), the states of Queensland and Victoria in Australia, Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe and Lake Victoria in Kenya all owe their names to the monarch. Many of the Queen and Victoria streets you encounter on your travels around the globe are also part of the royal’s enduring legacy.

You won’t believe how many places around the world are named after Queen Elizabeth!

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Queen Victoria kept many diariesPhoto: ShutterStock

Queen Victoria was an artist and writer

Painting, drawing, and writing were among the many artistic passions that Victoria pursued throughout her lifetime. She filled notebooks with sketches and illustrations of family members and places of interest, and accumulated 120 handwritten diaries.

Find out 50 more little-known facts about the British royal family.

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Was Queen Victoria related to Jack the Ripper?Photo: ShutterStock

Queen Victoria’s gift to the White House is still in use

What does American president Joe Biden and Queen Victoria have in common? A sturdy oak desk. In 1880, Victoria gave U.S. president, Rutherford Hayes a unique gift—a desk crafted from the timbers of a retired British ship, the H.M.S. Resolute. Since its arrival at the White House, the Resolute desk has helped many American presidents including John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama get the job done.

Check out the most famous presidential pets to have called the White House home.

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British train in black and whitePhoto: ATGImages /

She saw many technological firsts

The “Victorian era” may sound like ancient history, but Queen Victoria lived into the twentieth century, dying at the age of 81 in 1901. She was the first British monarch to travel on a train, use electric lights and a telephone.

Here are more mind-blowing facts you’ll think are made up (but aren’t).

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Jack the Ripper - Queen Victoria connectionPhoto: Shutterstock

Some theorists suspect that Queen Victoria’s grandson was Jack the Ripper

In 1970, a British physician named Thomas Stowell wrote an article speculating that Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, was in fact Jack the Ripper—the legendary serial killer who terrorized London and brutally murdered five women in 1888. Many historians have since discounted the physician’s theories, citing a lack of convincing evidence.

Read up on more of the biggest unsolved mysteries surrounding the British royal family.

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Red blood cells in bloodstreamPhoto: Shutterstock

She was a carrier of hemophilia

Queen Victoria carried a gene mutation for hemophilia, a rare disorder in which blood doesn’t clot as it normally should, leading sufferers to bleed excessively from even the smallest of cuts. The queen passed on the disease to three of her children, including son Leopold, who at age 30, haemorrhaged to death after a fall.

How extensive is your royal vocabulary? Take our Word Power challenge and test your knowledge of royal terms.

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The Crown Jewels at the Tower of LondonPhoto: AMG_PHOTO /

Queen Victoria’s coronet is one of Britain’s most impressive crown jewels

Diamonds—and sapphires—are a girl’s best friend. Or at least that’s what Prince Albert figured when he commissioned a coronet to present to Victoria as a gift after two years of marriage. Easily one of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry in the royal collection, the stunning tiara boasts countless diamonds and no fewer than 11 sapphires.

This is how much the British crown jewels are actually worth.

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She had a real impact on British society—and the world

Queen Victoria helped prevent a Franco-German war in 1875, and led the British Empire to global supremacy. On the home front, she championed acts that made it possible for more people to vote, as well as legislation that increased wages for the working class. She was also responsible for restoring the royal family’s public role, giving her patronage to more than 150 institutions, including the armed forces, museums, and educational organizations. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert redefined what it meant to be royal, and their charitable legacy lives on in the works of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William.

Find out why British citizens don’t want Prince Charles to become king.

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Jenna Louise Coleman as Victoria on PBSPhoto:

The recent ITV/PBS Victoria mini-series isn’t 100% accurate

Did an 18-year-old Victoria really propose to a swoon-worthy Prime Minister Lord Melbourne? Did scheming stewards actually make an attempt to disrupt a royal ball? Although these tales certainly made for entertaining television in the recent ITV/PBS production of Victoria, they’re likely more fiction than fact. Historians have pointed out that Lord Melbourne would have been 60 years old, overweight, and likely much more of a father figure than a potential love interest for the young queen.

Likewise, here’s what the Netflix series The Crown gets wrong about the British royal family.

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Facts about Queen Victoria illustrationIllustration: Shutterstock

She may never have said, “We are not amused”

Although modern-day depictions of Queen Victoria would have you believe she was dour—likely due to the fact that her reign was a period of strict conservative values—she herself denied ever having used the phrase, “We are not amused.”

Now that you know these fascinating Queen Victoria facts, take a look back at Queen Elizabeth’s incredible life in 30 quotes.