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The last years

In 1887 Victoria completed 50 years as queen, and a great jubilee was held for her. Wearing a black dress, with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter and a white feather in her bonnet, she drove through the streets of London cheered by her subjects, who had forgotten their grievances against her. They saw her not only as their own queen but also as the head of a great and expanding empire. Ten years later, in 1897, another jubilee was held to celebrate 60 years of her reign.

Even when she was and old woman Victoria remained interested in what was going on in the world. In 1900, when she was over 80, she paid a visit to Ireland to show her gratitude to the Irish for the way in which they had fought in the Boer War in South Africa.

Later that year her health began to fail and she moved to Osborne. She drove out for the last time on 15 January 1901, and on 22 January she died at her house in the Isle of Wight , in the presence of several members of her family. She was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, on 1 February, but as she wished to be buried with Prince Albert the coffin was lifted three days later and taken to his tomb at Frogmore near by. A statue of the Queen made in 1862 was brought out of storage and placed in the mausoleum next to the likeness of her husband. Albert's effigy looks upwards towards the dome of the mausoleum, as if gazing loftily at the heavens beyond. Victoria's statue, however, looks at him, her love, devotion, and sorrow at his early loss and her long widowhood captured forever in stone. It says everything about her, about him, and about a relationship that was extraordinary by royal or any other standards.

In many ways Queen Victoria was stern, especially with her children, who were all rather frightened of her. She shared some of the characteristics of what is now called the Victorian Age: its primness, strictness, and extreme social formality. Her sternness can perhaps best be shown by considering the well-known remark she made about something she did not approve of: "We are not amused". But she also had a sense of humour. She showed great courage and a wish to help her subjects in trouble, this is seen in her support of Florence Nightingale's work for soldiers in the Crimean War. She was and interesting and lively writer and from girlhood until her death she kept a diary, underlining many words for emphasis and putting in some fine illustrations, for she drew beautifully.