The Hesse Gathering
Victoria came to the British Throne in 1837, largely thanks to her profligate yet legitimately childless uncles, but she nonetheless became the longest reigning British monarch in history. Crowned as the Kaiserin-I-Hind (Empress of India), the Widow of Buckingham–as she was jokingly being called after the death of her husband Albert–ruled over the Empire in which the Sun never set for 64 years.
Victoria presided over what will become known as the Victoria Era, the age of great industrial, intellectual and social developments. She had ten prime ministers in total during her long reign and a rambunctious family, which would break out into petty quarrels and disastrous wars as soon as Victoria was gone.
She was the metaphorical Grandmother of Europe. All her sons and daughters married into nearly all other ruling houses of Europe in dynastic marriages which not only created unlikely alliances in that Age of Empires, but also hemophilia. When Victoria died, her funeral was attended by eleven crowned heads of Europe – all related to her – including the Kaiser of Germany and the Tsar of Russia.
The above photo taken was taken in April 1894 at the Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt; the occasion was the marriage of Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh, the Queen’s granddaughter, to Ernst, the Grandduke of Hesse. Kaiser Wilhem was seated to the extreme right of the Queen and standing between them were Ernst’s younger sister Alix, whose long delayed engagment to Grandduke Nicholai Alexandrovitch Romanov, the Tsarevitch of Russia, was also announced at this wedding. Nicholai’s father, Alexander III, wanted his son to marry a princess of the House of Oreleans to cement the Franco-Russian Alliance, and only agreed to his betrothal on his deadbed. This meant that Nicholai would ascend to the Russian throne within six months after this picture was taken.
(For biographical details on people photographed, click here).