2010年10月6日 星期三

Queen Victoria and the Great Britain

Queen Victoria (1819-1901)

The Life of the Queen

Victoria was born in London on 24 May 1819, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg. She succeeded her uncle, William IV, in 1837, at the age of 18, and her reign spanned the rest of the century. In 1840, she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. For the next 20 years they lived in close harmony and had a family of nine children, many of whom eventually married into the European monarchy.

Prince Albert

On her accession, Victoria adopted the Whig prime minister Lord Melbourne as her political mentor. In 1840, his influence was replaced by that of Prince Albert. The German prince never really won the favour of the British public, and only after 17 years was he given official recognition, with the title of 'prince consort'. Victoria nonetheless relied heavily on Albert and it was during his lifetime that she was most active as a ruler. Britain was evolving into a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch had few powers and was expected to remain above party politics, although Victoria did sometimes express her views very forcefully in private.

A portrait of Queen Victoria

Victoria never fully recovered from Albert's death in 1861 and she remained in mourning for the rest of her life. Her subsequent withdrawal from public life made her unpopular, but during the late 1870s and 1880s she gradually returned to public view and, with increasingly pro-imperial sentiment, she was restored to favour with the British public. After the Indian Mutiny in 1857, the government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown. In 1877, Victoria became empress of India. Her empire also included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and large parts of Africa. During this period, Britain was largely uninvolved in European affairs, apart from the Crimean War from 1853 - 1856.
Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 were celebrated with great enthusiasm. Having witnessed a revolution in British government, huge industrial expansion and the growth of a worldwide empire, Victoria died on 22 January 1901 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
From BBC History

The Queen and Her Prime Ministers

Queen Victoria, the queen who ruled over England for 60 years, was the longest monarch ever in the British history. During this time, she had seen some of the major changes in the British Empire that changed the history of Great Britain dearly. She also witnessed the groth of a mighty empire that has the most influnce to the world during the 1800s. Also, in this 60 years of reign, she had came along with many politicians including the prime minisetrs during the time.

Lord Melbourne
Queen Victoria's first prime minister when she became queen at the age of 18. Lord Melbourne treated Victoria with unbounded respect. His skillfull flattery let him became the favorite of the queen. She is pleased with Melbourne's frank and natural manners, and was amused by his knowledge upon varies subjects and his quaint, queer, epigrammatic turn of mind. Lord Melbourne assured the queen a lot. He assured Victoria that her shyness was indicative of a sensitive temperament, and her smallness was a positive advantage to a queen. Melbourne often gave his advices in a kind and flattery way, which pleased the queen a lot. Queen Victoria favored Melbourne deeply. She had once said that she loved him "like a father". 

Queen Victoria listened carefully to Melbourne's advice when he discuss the political problems of the day. However, it cannot be said that Melbourne inspired the conscience of the young queen. For example, he assured her, for instance, that attempts by Lord Shaftesbury to improve the conditions of children working in the mines were quite unnecessary. Also, he did not give her propriate advice when a court lady-in-waiting, Lady Flora Hastings, dying of cancer of the liver, was falsely accused of becoming pregnant by Victoria's hated man, Sir John Conroy. The young queen was at first believe the worst of Lady Flora, as she did of Conroy. When the matter became a public scandal, the Queen's early popularity began to fade away. Her carriage was stoned at Lady Flora's funeral, and she was hissed at while she was at the theatre. She was also under attack at Ascot, where two ladies in the crowd shouted 'Mrs Melbourne!' at her.

Sir Robert Peel
Sir Robert Peel became the successor of Melbourne when Melbourne's Whig government faced a great defeat on a colonial issue and have to resigned. The queen became frustrated at the news and was extrmely distress at the issue that she will have to face the Tories, which she hated most. The Duke of Wellington was originally to be the succesor of Melbourne, but he protested that he was too old and deaf. The queen had no choice but to appoint the Tories leader, Sir Robert Peel, as prime minister. She was mortified by this: Peel was so difficult to talk to; his extreme shyness in her presence made her feel shy too, while his nervous mannerisms, his irritating habits of pointing his toes and thrusting out his hands to shake down his cuffs, reminded her of a dancing master. However, she was persauded to take a less hostle view at Peel by her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, in 1841 after a general election and the Tories came to power.

Peel did all he could to follow Melbourne's advices in pleasing the queen.
The advice:
'Whenever Peel does anything or has anything to propose [Melbourne said] let him explain to her clearly his reasons. The Queen is not conceited; she is aware there are many things she does not understand, and she likes to have them explained to her elementarily, not at length and in detail but shortly and clearly.'                                                                                      From BBC History
Peel took care to follow this advice also, and, when he was forced to resign, she was as sorry to part with him as he was to leave her. It was, he said, 'one of the most painful moments' of his life. And when he died in 1850, she deeply lamented the loss of 'a kind and true friend', her 'worthy Peel, a man of unbounded loyalty, courage, patriotism and highmindedness'.

Lord Russell
Successor of of Sir Robert Peel after Peel resign. He is the son of the Duke of Bedford. Russell was a short, and lean man who is a little bit taller than the queen. The queen found Russell a stubborn, opinionated and graceless man. The worse of all, Lord Russell could not and would not curb the excesses of his Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, who is a high-hand and tiresome man. The queen and her husband keep on suggesting the issue to Russell. However, Russell took no notice at the issue and carried on as before, even he promised to look into the issue. The queen once told Russell that someday she will have to insist on Palmerston's dismissal. It never happen.

Lord Palmerston
Palmerston came to power in 1855. The British were at war with Russia in the Crimea, and Palmerston was the only one considered capable in leading the British toward victory. The Queen was horrified: the rude old man was over 70 by then, deaf and short-sighted with wobbly false teeth and dyed hair. Worse than this, Palmerston shocked Prince Albert dearly when Palmerston sumble into one of Queen Victoria's maid's room and attempting to seduce her but failed. Although an awful character, Palmerston is perfectly amenable in office, polite and accommadating. Prince Albert agreed that Palmerston gave least trouble among all the other prime ministers. 

In 1861, when Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria mourned deeply for her loss and retreated from from the affairs of state into a lonely purdah. She didn't want to meet any one and was afraid she will go mad. She refused to see her minister alone, so she told her Prime minister that htey will have to conduct their buisness through one of her daughter or her private secretary, General Grey. Palmerston disagreed with this way of communicating. and insist on for the queen to came to meeting. The queen, however, cannot faced the ministers along, so she told her minister to wait in one room and herself sat in the other room, than communicate through the Clerk of the Council.

Benjamin Disraeli
Six years later the Queen's misery was much alleviated by the appointment of the Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. From the beginning Disraeli set out to woo and flatter her with an infallible instinct for the phrase, the gesture, the compliment, the overture that would most delight her. He was later to tell a colleague who had asked for advice how to handle the Queen, 'First of all, remember she is woman'.

Queen Victoria told one of her daughter about Disraeli :
'The present man will do well. He is very peculiar, thoroughly Jewish looking ... but very clever and sensible ... He is full of poetry, romance and chivalry. When he knelt down to kiss my hand, he said "In loving loyalty and faith."'                                                                From BBC History

WE Gladstone
Disraeli's rival and successor. Gladstone came to power in 1885. Gladstone is much contrast comparing to Disraeli. "'mischievous firebrand, arrogant, tyrannical and obstinate', a 'half-crazy and in many ways ridiculous, wild and incomprehensible old fanatic' said the Queen. She cannot bear Gladstone. She had to put up with him intermittently from 1868 until 1894; and when he died in 1898 she could not - truthful and obstinate as ever - bring herself to say that she was sorry.

  1. Which main topic does this artifact relate to? In what way?  This topic is related to Important female figure of the Great Britain in 19th Century.
  2. Why did you choose this artifact, and how much time did you spend on creating the artifact?  I choose Queen Victoria as the focus of my biographical spotlight because I didn't know much about her, and I wish to learn something about her. I spend about 2-3 hours making this.
  3. What understanding have you gained from the creation process of this artifact?  I have learn about Queen Victoria's life and her political influence to the Parliment.
  4. Does this artifact reflect your best work and ideas? Why or why not?  No, the time when I finished this artifact is already very late, so I have to wrapped up my work quickly. Therefore, the last part of my artifact wasn't well done.
  5. Any additional comment?  None
Rate this artifact from -5 to 5 in the following criterion:
  • Quality of your portfolio (4)        
  • Level of enjoyment (3)
  • Learning (5)
  • Level of creativity and originality (3)