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24 Fascinating Facts About Queen Victoria Most People Don’t Know

Canadians know Victoria Day as the unofficial start of summer, but what of the woman it's named for? Brush up on your royal trivia with these fascinating facts about Queen Victoria, Canada’s “Mother of Confederation.”

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Queen Victoria grew up in Kensington Palace in LondonPhoto: ShutterStock

Queen Victoria’s birthplace is now home to William and Kate

Kensington Palace, the current London abode of William and Kate—the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—was Queen Victoria’s birthplace. Born on May 24, 1819, Victoria spent much of her childhood at Kensington, raised by her widowed mother (Victoria’s father died when she was eight months old) and several royal courtiers.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - young Victoria portraitPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria’s first name wasn’t actually Victoria

Christened Alexandrina (but called Drina as a child), she started using Victoria—her middle name—at 18 when she ascended to the throne.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - Westminster AbbeyPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria wasn’t supposed to be queen

Can you imagine Prince Harry as king—even before the scandal of his stepping down from royal duties? Back in 1837, the unthinkable became reality for Victoria. At birth, Victoria was fifth in line to the throne, but the deaths of various princes and a lack of male heirs resulted in the young woman capturing the crown.

The site of Victoria’s coronation—Westminster Abbey (above)—is just one of 50 London attractions worth adding to your bucket list.

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Queen Victoria and Prince AlbertPhoto: ShutterStock

Queen Victoria proposed to her husband

At age 16, Victoria met her future husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who also happened to be her first cousin. After four years of friendship and flirtation, Queen Victoria proposed to her prince (actually, she had no choice—according to tradition, a man couldn’t propose to the queen). The smitten couple married in 1840.

Check out more fascinating facts about royal weddings of the past.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - white wedding dressPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria is the reason wedding dresses are white

The young queen was a wedding trendsetter. In 1840, it wasn’t the norm to see a bride wearing white. The colour was thought to be boring and conservative, but Victoria didn’t care. She chose simplicity over opulence, and her lacy silk-satin grown—crafted from the finest British textiles—gave a much-needed boost to the struggling lace trade. Several years later, a women’s publication stated that white was the “most fitting hue” for brides, and a tradition was born.

Take a look back at the fascinating details you probably missed from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

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Queen Victoria facts - newborn baby feetPhoto: Shutterstock

She spent almost two decades pregnant

Victoria and Albert’s first child, Princess Victoria, was born nine months after their wedding. But little Vicky wasn’t an only child for long. A year later, she had a baby brother for company, and within 17 years, the royal household boasted nine children: four boys and five girls.

Find out which royal family “rules” are total myths.

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Queen Victoria facts - Prince PhilipIllustration: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

She mourned her husband for 40 years

After 21 years of marriage, Queen Victoria became a widow. In 1861, her beloved Prince Albert died from typhoid. Consumed with grief, Victoria would spend her next 40 years of life wearing only black clothing, and would rarely be seen in public.

Find out the plans that are in place for when Queen Elizabeth II passes.

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Facts about Queen Victoria - Windsor CastlePhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Victoria spoke several languages

If you thought being bilingual made you an overachiever, you’re about to get schooled. Queen Victoria was fluent in no fewer than five languages: English, German, French, Latin, and Italian. She also learned a little Hindustani and Urdu in order to chat with her Indian servants at Windsor Castle (above).

For more royal lore and legends, check out the secrets of Windsor Castle.

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Queen Elizabeth longest reigning monarchPhoto: Shaun Jeffers / Shutterstock.com

Queen Victoria is the second-longest reigning British monarch

Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years, and up until September 2015, was the longest reigning British monarch. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II—celebrating her Platinum Jubilee of 70 years on the throne—now holds the title.

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Changing of the Guard at Buckingham PalacePhoto: ShutterStock

She survived eight assassination attempts

Queen Victoria may have been one of the longest reigning monarchs, but she was also one of the luckiest. On at least eight occasions—most of them while riding in her open carriage—would-be assassins tried to kill her. She also had a stalker. A man by the name of Edward Jones broke into the royal residence at Buckingham Palace several times, and was eventually caught—but not before he sat on her throne and stole her underwear.

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Queen Victoria statue in the Library of Parliament Reading Room, Ottawa