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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

The final days of Queen Victoria

Updated: Jan 21

© 2024 National Portrait Gallery

As the days marched on both the Nation and Victoria’s family grew immensely worried. Victoria had been on the throne for 63 years, no one alive had seen a monarch's funeral. Both her family and the Nation believed Victoria was immortal, it felt as if she had reigned forever.

The Queen had been as reluctant to accept her mortality as those around her. “Am I better?” she asked Sir James, “I should like to live a little longer, as I have still a few things to settle.” As if her trusted doctor could make her live, Sir James kindly reassured her: “Yes, Your Majesty has been very ill but you are now better.” The Queen knew she was dying but did not want to accept it.

By Monday the 19th January 1901 there was a great decline in The Queen's health, there was a thickening of speech and loss of power. The Prince of Wales left London and hurried to Osborne where he was greeted by a very anxious Sir James Reid. Other members of the family were sent for, Sir Douglas Powell was also sent for. Her eldest grandson the German Emporor Kaiser Wilhelm II left Berlin and headed to Osborne as soon as he heard the bad news.

Upon the first bulletin released from Her Majesty's doctors and personell raised concerns of The Queen's declining health the press and public turned their gaze to the seaside retreat of the 81 year old Queen. The news quickly travelled worldwide, newspapers and articles headlined 'ENGLANDS QUEEN DYING, GRASPING FOR LIFE' and 'RALLY FOLLOWING A SINKING SPELL'


All eyes were on Osborne, her subjects eagerly awaiting news of their beloved Queen's health. The press went as far as questioning how many days Victoria would survive or if she could recover so that she would continue to reign; everyone was grasping onto hope. The whole world was shrouded with the question 'if?' Would Victoria pull through and continue her 63 year reign or would the Victorian era come to a close in the coming days? Osborne house and it's grounds were surrounded by police once the news of The Queens condition was forwarded, this was to prevent the news of her death being made public before the new King Edward VII had concluded the formalities with the Privvy council and cabinet. The public would not know about her death until the cabinet, government and the new monarch King Edward VII had been notified. All day, and all night, a crowd waited at the lodge gates waiting for more news. They consisted chiefly of journalists, probably not less than a hundred of whom, including artists. They represent not only English, but American, German, French and other foreign newspapers.

Stephen A. Goldman Historical Newspapers

Daily bulletins and telegraphs updating on The Queen's health were being churned out from Osborne House. The Cabinet and inner circle of the Royal court held a session to put in place an official procedure in the event of Her Majesty's death. The first public bulletin making the public aware of the concerning state of Her Majesty's health was released on the 19th January 1901, they would continue everyday until her death on the 22nd January 1901.


The Victorian era was slowly drawing to a close. The country braced themselves for the inevitable news, newspapers predicted Victoria would live until Thursday the 24th January but Her Majesty deteriorated much faster.

On the 22nd of this month, the 122nd anniversary of Queen Victoria's death I will be posting a blog covering the final day of Queen Victoria.

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