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Years before becoming Queen

Childhood

Alexandrina Victoria was born in London, at Kensington Palace, on the 24th May 1819.  She was the only child of  Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III, and of a German princess, Victoire Maria Louisa, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. At her birth, Victoria was fifth in succession to the throne (George III was still alive). Before her came the George III 's  sons: the Prince of Regent (later George IV), the Duke of York, the Duke of Clarence (later William IV)  and her own father. However, when she was only eight months old, her father died.

Victoria, who was known in her childhood as Drina, was brought up in Kensington Palace, by her mother and Baroness Lehzen, her German governess. Baroness Lehzen became a more important person to Victoria than her own mother. The Duchess of Kent developed a close relationship with Sir John Conroy, an ambitious Irish officer. Conroy acted as if Victoria was his daughter and had a major influence over her as a child. ). Conroy could see himself as the chief adviser to the future Queen Victoria, the father-figure who would be the girl' s éminence grise, the "power behind the throne" of her reign, and he did all he could to prepare his glorious future.

Becoming Queen

On the death of George IV in 1830, his brother William IV became king. William had no surviving legitimate children and so Victoria, became his heir. William's health was not good and he feared that Conroy would become the power behind the throne if Victoria became queen before she was eighteen.

William IV died 27 days after Victoria's eighteenth birthday. Although William was unaware of this, Victoria disliked Conroy and she had objected to his attempt to exert power over her. As soon as she became queen in 1837, Victoria banished Conroy from the Royal Court.

Victoria became queen on 20 June 1837, when she was 18. The archbishop of Canterbury Palace and the Lord Chamberlain hurried to Kensington Palace in the early morning to tell her that her uncle,  William IV,  was dead. Both the lord chamberlain and the archbishop knelt before her and kissed her hand as they saluted her as queen.

Victoria was crowned on 28 June 1838. There was a great procession through London and a splendid ceremony at Westminster Abbey, however,  it had not been properly rehearsed and several mistakes were made. The archbishop of Canterbury had forced the coronation ring on to the wrong finger causing Victoria a good deal of pain.

The people of Britain were delighted to have a young queen after a succession of elderly and rather disreputable kings. Victoria handled affairs of state with great dignity and grace. She was guided by her first prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who was devoted to her, educating the young queen in politics and government. Enjoying her freedom after her strict upbringing, Victoria kept her mother out of political affairs, although Lehzen advised her on matters connected with the running of the court.