In our series of Who’s Who in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 and hopefully introducing some of the players to the readers of our blog I have decided that it is prudent to start at the top and introduce those of our readers who do not know all the in’s and out’s of the Wars.
We should therefore start with the two Monarchs who, although they did not take an active part in the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift themselves were certainly instrumental in the shaping of the events that took place.
We start with Queen Victoria, whose reign lasted from 1837 to 1901. Strangely enough, at birth she was only the fifth in the line of succession yet at age 18 she was crowned the Queen of the British Empire. Until recently she was the longest reigning British Monarch but that, of course, has now been eclipsed by Queen Elizabeth II.
She married Prince Albert of Saxe-Colburg & Gotha in 1840 and had nine children. Famously Prince Alfred died in 1861 which set off a new fashion trend as the Queen proceeded to wear only black for the rest of her life. She also changed the traditions and practices around mourning and burial that affected all her subjects.
The Victorian Era was marked by her strict standards and personal morality that resulted in a prudish society obsessed with “moral” values.
The British Empire expanded exponentially under her reign. However, this expansion and annexation of countries was only done, according to the Queen, in order to protect the peoples of those countries from other warring nations. The official stance was that expansion was not undertaken “unless we are obliged and forced to do so.”
She was succeeded by her son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales.