Queen Victoria, photographed by J. J. E. Mayall (1860). Photo: Wikimedia Commons

To mark the Victoria Day long weekend, here are some lesser-known facts about one of Britain's most iconic monarchs.

At 6 a.m. on June 20, 1837, an 18-year-old Victoria was roused from her sleep and told that her 71-year-old uncle, King William IV, had died during the early morning hours of an apparent heart attack. Victoria was now—quite suddenly—queen of England.

When Victoria was born in 1819, there had been little chance of her ever becoming the ruler of an empire. As the only child of King George III's fourth son, Edward, the Duke of Kent, Victoria was a distant fifth in line to the throne. However, following a series of unfortunate events including the deaths of her father, his brothers and their legitimate heirs, the young princess abruptly found herself as William IV's closest surviving relative.

When Victoria took the throne, few would ever have guessed that the inexperienced, diminutive royal (she stood at only 4'11") would rule for as long as she did—63 years and 216 days, to be exact. She remained Britain's longest-reigning monarch until her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, surpassed her during her Sapphire Jubilee in February 2017.

Victoria, an avid diarist, meticulously chronicled the ups and downs of her reign, most of which is now public record. She wrote about her wedding day, the (at least) six assassination attempts on her life and the sometimes mundane day-to-day routines that made up her life as England's most powerful figure.

But what about some of the lesser-known facts of Victoria's long reign?

We dig up a few of the more intriguing stories...

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