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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s death - in the words of witnesses

On this day in 1901, the great Queen of England and Empress of India passed away. Queen Victoria died in her bedroom at Osborne House, surrounded by her family and her doctors.

Here are extracts taken from personal letters describing Queen Victoria's death, the extracts are from those whom were with Victoria at her death.

Princess Helena mid 1870’s © National Portrait Gallery, London

Princess Helena -

"I shall never forget the look of radiance on her face at last when she opened her dear eyes quite wide & one felt & knew she saw beyond the Border Land & had seen & met all her loved ones."

Sir James Reid in 1901

Sir James Reid

"A few minutes before she died her eyes turned fixedly to the right and gazed on the picture of Christ in the 'Entombment of Christ' over the fireplace."

Sir James Reid -

"Her pulse kept beating well till the end when she died with my arm round her. I gently removed on the pillow, and kissed her hand before I got up.

When all was over most of the family shook hands with me and thanked me by the bedside, and the Kaiser also squeezed my hand in silence. I told the Prince of Wales to close her eyes."

Randall Thomas Davidson, Baron Davidson of Lambeth mid late 1900’s © National Portrait Gallery, London

Randall Davidson, Bishop of Winchester -

"At 6 o'clock we were told that the end was certainly approaching, but the breathing was so laboured that ministry was difficult or impossible. Then came a great change of look and complete calmness. I had been mainly in the Dressing Room. At 6.25 Powell summoned me to come in. I said the Commendatory Prayer and one or two texts and the Aaronic blessing."

Sir Thomas Barlow, Bt © National Portrait Gallery, London © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

Sir Thomas Barlow -

"The breathing got shallow. When the very end came it was without any struggle, a gentle fading away. There was the poor Queen not suffering much as far as we could judge but sinking by slow degrees, her splendid constitution showing itself to the last, so that her pulse held up till just before she died."

Sir Thomas Barlow -

"Her face was quite beautiful in its way; she had but little pain; her expression was for the most part calm. There was a simple dignity like that of an old Roman."

Sir Frederick Ponsonby 1927 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Frederick Ponsonby -

"The Duke of Argyll told me that the last moments were like a great three-decker ship sinking. She kept on rallying then sinking"

George, Duke of York - later King George V © Copyright Mary Evans - All Rights Reserved 2024

George, Duke of York (Later George V) -

"I shall never forget that scene in her room, with all of us sobbing & heartbroken round her bed."

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