Queen Victoria - Birth and Family

Birth and Family

Victoria's father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of the reigning King of the United Kingdom, George III. Until 1817, Edward's niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, was the only legitimate grandchild of George III. Her death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis in the United Kingdom that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent, and his unmarried brothers, to marry and have children. In 1818, the Duke married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a German princess whose brother Leopold was the widower of Princess Charlotte. The Duke and Duchess of Kent's only child, Victoria, was born at 4.15 a.m. on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London. The Duchess of Kent already had two children – Prince Carl of Leiningen (1804–1856) and Princess Feodora of Leiningen (1807–1872), by her first marriage to Prince Emich Carl of Leiningen (1763–1814). In her later life, Victoria enjoyed a close relationship with her half-sister.

Princess Alexandrina Victoria was christened privately by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. She was baptised Alexandrina, after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria after her mother. Additional names proposed by her parents—Georgina (or Georgiana), Charlotte and Augusta—were dropped on the instructions of the Duke's elder brother, the Prince Regent (later George IV).

At birth, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after her father and his three older brothers: the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence (later William IV). The Prince Regent was estranged from his wife and the Duchess of York was 52 years old, so the two eldest brothers were unlikely to have any further children. The Dukes of Kent and Clarence married on the same day 12 months before Victoria's birth, but both of Clarence's daughters (born in 1819 and 1820 respectively) died as infants. Victoria's grandfather and father died in 1820, within a week of each other, and the Duke of York died in 1827. On the death of her uncle George IV in 1830, Victoria became heiress presumptive to her next surviving uncle, William IV. The Regency Act 1830 made special provision for the Duchess of Kent to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor. King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, and in 1836 declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided.

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