Queen Victoria dies on 22 January 1901, ending an era in which most of her British subjects knew no other monarch. Spanning more than a half-century, her reign, the longest in British history, saw the growth of an empire on which the sun never set. As an 18-year-old woman ascending to the throne, her future husband described her as one whose extreme obstinacy was constantly at war with her good nature.
She proposed to Albert, her first cousin and a German prince, in 1939, and when he died in 1861 she entered a 40-year period of mourning for a love that had bequeathed her no fewer than 37 surviving great-grandchildren. When she died in 1901, so many of her descendants had married with other monarchies that she was called the grandmother of Europe.