When we think of Victoria Day, we think of cottages and tents and fireworks. However, when we think of the Victorian era, we think of lace and long skirts with crinolins underneath. We think of beautiful large brick homes with turrets. We think of tea parties with crumpets. We also think of the biggest city in the world, London, England, its skyline lined with smokestacks, its homes filled with common folk and its alleyways overflowing with street urchins a la Oliver Twist.
Here are some facts about Queen Victoria that you may not know.*
1. Canadians have celebrated Victoria Day since 1845 and the day achieved official holiday status with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
2. Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years and 216 days, the longest reigning British monarch ever.
3. Born to an English father and a German mother, Victoria spoke German until the age of 3.
4. She was the first member of the British Royal family to suffer from hemophelia.
5. She married her first cousin, Prince Albert, after proposing herself since this was expected of a queen.
6. She started the tradition of the bride wearing white.
7. She became a mother at 19, a grandmother at 39 and a great-grandmother at 59. Interestingly, one of her grandchildren later became Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
8. She survived six assassination attempts, including one while she was pregnant with her first child.
9. During her lifetime, Scottish author John Wilson said: "The sun never sets on the British empire." (paraphrase)
10. She outlived her husband as well as three of her nine children.
*Partially taken from a City News article dated May 19, 2008 titled "20 Things You Didn't Know About Victoria Day".
So, the next time you watch fireworks on May 24th weekend, tell your children about Queen Victoria.
Picture courtesy www.englishmonarchs.com