Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, c 1856.
© NMeM / Royal Photographic Society / Science & Society Picture Library
Victoria (1819-1901) was crowned Queen of Great Britain and Ireland at Westminster Abbey in 1838 (a year after her accession to the throne). In 1840 she married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg (1819-1861), with whom she had four sons and five daughters. Albert was the driving force behind the Great Exhibition of 1851. He died suddenly of typhoid in 1861 and Victoria was devastated. Despite this, she achieved recognition as Empress of India in 1876, and greatly increased the prestige of the monarchy during her reign. She was the longest serving English monarch, reigning from 1837 until her death in 1901.