"Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfil my duty towards my country; I am very young and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have." - Queen Victoria, 1837
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' British Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of Great Britain's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
England has had no shortage of influential monarchs, but among its queens only Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria had the age they lived in literally named after them. Both the Elizabethan era and Victorian era have come to symbolize a golden age of peace and progress in every aspect of British life, with the long reigns of both queens also providing stability.
Of course, there was a critical difference between those two queens: Elizabeth I still wielded great power in the 16th century, whereas Victoria was a constitutional monarch who had to deal with more limited power over the workings of the British government. But in a way, that made Victoria even more unique, as she still proved able to mold the cultural identity of a nearly 65 year long epoch. Furthermore, Victoria established some of the ceremonial customs of the British monarch and became both the forerunner and role model of subsequent queens, a legacy that continues to endure with her great-great granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.