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Queen Victoria's story is more inspiring, and more badass, than we've seen before.

Her reign was complicated, tumultuous, and anything but typical.

Queen Victoria's story is more inspiring, and more badass, than we've seen before.
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PBS Victoria

When Alexandrina Victoria became queen on June 20, 1837, her first act was to demand something she'd been denied her entire life: one hour spent alone.

‌A painting of little Victoria, age 4. Her family doctor, Baron Stockmar, reportedly described her as "plump as a partridge." Image by Stephen Poyntz Denning/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

In her first 18 years, Victoria spent every waking minute in the company of her mother and uncle, preparing for the eventual day where she would don a crown and become the ruler of the British Empire. When that day arrived, she became only the fourth woman in history to take on the role. Despite her youth and inexperience, this determined woman changed the world — and how it viewed the British monarchy — forever.


From the beginning, Queen Victoria's reign was marred by controversy. She famously perpetuated rumors and public shaming about Lady Flora Hastings for appearing to have an out-of-wedlock pregnancy with a married lord (after Hastings died in shame, an autopsy revealed the true cause of her distended "pregnant" belly: a cancerous tumor).

While her role as queen was largely ceremonial in the United Kingdom's constitutional monarchy, she nonetheless managed to cause a government crisis when she refused to allow a new prime minister to replace the ladies of her court with ones from his political party. The press pounced on the moment, dubbing it "The Bedchamber Crisis." Unpopular and isolated, Victoria was in need of good news. She found it in Prince Albert.

In 1839, just five days into his second-ever visit, Victoria proposed to her future husband, Belgian Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

‌‌Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day in February 1840. Image by Sir George Hayter/The Royal Collection/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

At the time, a woman proposing to a man was unheard of. But, as Victoria was the highest authority in the land, it would have been inappropriate for anyone of lower status to propose to her.

On their wedding day, she broke tradition again. Instead of the Sunday best brides wore at the time, she opted to wear a voluminous white wedding gown. It became an instant sensation.

Victoria embraced her reinvigorated popularity with gusto.

‌‌Albert, Victoria, and their nine children. Image via John Jabez Edwin Mayall/National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons.‌

Keenly aware of their celebrity, she and Albert revitalized the tradition of royals supporting civic institutions and engaging in service. Victoria alone became the patron of more than 150 institutions across the United Kingdom. They released sets of photos of their daily life, dubbed "Cartes des Visites," which sold an astonishing 60,000 copies.

At Albert's insistence, Victoria worked with Parliament to push through a number of child labor laws enforcing a 10-hour workday and restricting factories from employing children under the age of 10. By 1891, law would make school attendance free and compulsory for all children aged 5-13, effectively ending child labor.

Then, in 1861, tragedy struck. Albert died after a short illness, leaving the queen devastated.

For the next 10 years, Victoria mourned, refusing to fulfill all but the most necessary of her royal duties. Yet even in self-imposed seclusion, she could not escape controversy.

‌‌Victoria, in her black mourning dress, rides her horse Fyvie. Also pictured is her companion and rumored lover, John Brown. Image via George Washington Wilson/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

Politicians, pundits, and journalists criticized her regularly. They condemned what they felt was a lack of royal interest in crises like the Irish Potato Famine. They attacked her friendship with a Scottish servant, John Brown and accused her of having an extramarital affair. Seven men tried to assassinate her, all failing.

‌‌A lithograph depiction of Edward Oxford's 1840 attempt to assassinate Victoria. Image via J.R. Jobbins/Wikimedia Commons.‌

Famed writers, including Ireland's Jonathan Swift and England's Charles Dickens satirized her policies mercilessly. While this kind of negative attention is expected for a royal leader, it was steeped in sexism in Victoria's case. Unlike former kings praised for their steely resolve, Victoria was chided for seeming cold and forbidding, with pundits wondering in the press if she ever even smiled.

If you think that sounds familiar, you're not alone. Australian scholar Julia Baird, writer of a new tome about Victoria, told The Guardian that "Victoria was so tough and stubborn and sometimes rude, and refused to accept defeat. Refused to be told what to do. She was micro reported on every second of the day and she behaved how she wanted to behave. That was quite different — she would’ve been a 'nasty woman' in Trumpian terms, without a doubt."

‌‌A political cartoon from the 1860s featuring Whig leader William Gladstone as Charles Dickens' Scrooge, shown a vision by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli of Victoria sharing Christmas dinner with people from different parts of the British Empire. Image by Tom Merry/Wellcome Library/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

Not all of the criticism levied against Victoria was unwarranted.

During Victoria's reign, Britain would expand its empire to encompass lands in Canada, Australia, India, the Caribbean, and northeast Africa. For the British, this meant increased political power and economic clout along with a wealth of new foods, textiles, and culture. For the countries it plundered, it meant war, uncertainty, and the rapid, irreplaceable loss of language, customs, and traditions.‌ If she was aware of the negative implications of her nation's imperialist actions, Victoria didn't share them publicly, famously saying of the Boer War, "We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist."

‌This painting featuring Victoria passing a bible to an envoy from India is titled "The Secret of England's Greatness" and typifies the ideas of British imperialism at the time. Image by Thomas Jones Barker/National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

Victoria ruled over her massive empire for an incredible 63 years. At her Diamond Jubilee in 1898, she marked two final firsts.

She was captured on film for the first time, and she became the first royal to send a telegram. Her brief message of "From my heart, I thank my beloved people. May God bless them!" was sent to people across the United Kingdom and to all of its colonies.

Four years later, on Jan. 22, 1901, she passed away. She remained, until recently, the longest-serving monarch in British history.

It can be challenging to view rulers as little more than soundbites or caricatures. But Victoria’s reign, long as it was, deserves nuance.‌

‌Victoria's official portrait for her Diamond Jubilee, marking her reign of 60 years. Image via W. and D. Downey/National Archives of Canada/Wikimedia Commons.‌

She was, by all accounts, an extremely private person who felt both love and loss deeply and viewed her role as a duty and a service. She was also an extremely wealthy person whose power and status shielded her from the effects industrialization and imperialism had on her subjects. Victoria's experience as leader offers a glimpse into how much was different for a female monarch at the time and how little some things have changed.‌

To learn more about Queen Victoria's reign, watch "Victoria" on PBS: Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern starting Jan. 15, 2017.  

‌Edit‌

When Alexandrina Victoria became queen on June 20, 1837, her first act was to demand something she'd been denied her entire life: one hour spent alone.

‌A painting of little Victoria, age 4. Her family doctor, Baron Stockmar, reportedly described her as "plump as a partridge." Image by Stephen Poyntz Denning/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

In her first 18 years, Victoria spent every waking minute in the company of her mother and uncle, preparing for the eventual day where she would don a crown and become the ruler of the British Empire. When that day arrived, she became only the fourth woman in history to take on the role. Despite her youth and inexperience, this determined woman changed the world — and how it viewed the British monarchy — forever.

From the beginning, Queen Victoria's reign was marred by controversy. She famously perpetuated rumors and public shaming about Lady Flora Hastings for appearing to have an out-of-wedlock pregnancy with a married lord (after Hastings died in shame, an autopsy revealed the true cause of her distended "pregnant" belly: a cancerous tumor).

While her role as queen was largely ceremonial in the United Kingdom's constitutional monarchy, she nonetheless managed to cause a government crisis when she refused to allow a new prime minister to replace the ladies of her court with ones from his political party. The press pounced on the moment, dubbing it "The Bedchamber Crisis." Unpopular and isolated, Victoria was in need of good news. She found it in Prince Albert.

In 1839, just five days into his second-ever visit, Victoria proposed to her future husband, Belgian Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

‌‌Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day in February 1840. Image by Sir George Hayter/The Royal Collection/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

At the time, a woman proposing to a man was unheard of. But, as Victoria was the highest authority in the land, it would have been inappropriate for anyone of lower status to propose to her.

On their wedding day, she broke tradition again. Instead of the Sunday best brides wore at the time, she opted to wear a voluminous white wedding gown. It became an instant sensation.

Victoria embraced her reinvigorated popularity with gusto.

‌‌Albert, Victoria, and their nine children. Image via John Jabez Edwin Mayall/National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons.‌

Keenly aware of their celebrity, she and Albert revitalized the tradition of royals supporting civic institutions and engaging in service. Victoria alone became the patron of more than 150 institutions across the United Kingdom. They released sets of photos of their daily life, dubbed "Cartes des Visites," which sold an astonishing 60,000 copies.

At Albert's insistence, Victoria worked with Parliament to push through a number of child labor laws enforcing a 10-hour workday and restricting factories from employing children under the age of 10. By 1891, law would make school attendance free and compulsory for all children aged 5-13, effectively ending child labor.

Then, in 1861, tragedy struck. Albert died after a short illness, leaving the queen devastated.

For the next 10 years, Victoria mourned, refusing to fulfill all but the most necessary of her royal duties. Yet even in self-imposed seclusion, she could not escape controversy.

‌‌Victoria, in her black mourning dress, rides her horse Fyvie. Also pictured is her companion and rumored lover, John Brown. Image via George Washington Wilson/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

Politicians, pundits, and journalists criticized her regularly. They condemned what they felt was a lack of royal interest in crises like the Irish Potato Famine. They attacked her friendship with a Scottish servant, John Brown and accused her of having an extramarital affair. Seven men tried to assassinate her, all failing.

‌‌A lithograph depiction of Edward Oxford's 1840 attempt to assassinate Victoria. Image via J.R. Jobbins/Wikimedia Commons.‌

Famed writers, including Ireland's Jonathan Swift and England's Charles Dickens satirized her policies mercilessly. While this kind of negative attention is expected for a royal leader, it was steeped in sexism in Victoria's case. Unlike former kings praised for their steely resolve, Victoria was chided for seeming cold and forbidding, with pundits wondering in the press if she ever even smiled.

If you think that sounds familiar, you're not alone. Australian scholar Julia Baird, writer of a new tome about Victoria, told The Guardian that "Victoria was so tough and stubborn and sometimes rude, and refused to accept defeat. Refused to be told what to do. She was micro reported on every second of the day and she behaved how she wanted to behave. That was quite different — she would’ve been a 'nasty woman' in Trumpian terms, without a doubt."

‌‌A political cartoon from the 1860s featuring Whig leader William Gladstone as Charles Dickens' Scrooge, shown a vision by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli of Victoria sharing Christmas dinner with people from different parts of the British Empire. Image by Tom Merry/Wellcome Library/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

Not all of the criticism levied against Victoria was unwarranted.

During Victoria's reign, Britain would expand its empire to encompass lands in Canada, Australia, India, the Caribbean, and northeast Africa. For the British, this meant increased political power and economic clout along with a wealth of new foods, textiles, and culture. For the countries it plundered, it meant war, uncertainty, and the rapid, irreplaceable loss of language, customs, and traditions.‌ If she was aware of the negative implications of her nation's imperialist actions, Victoria didn't share them publicly, famously saying of the Boer War, "We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist."

‌This painting featuring Victoria passing a bible to an envoy from India is titled "The Secret of England's Greatness" and typifies the ideas of British imperialism at the time. Image by Thomas Jones Barker/National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons. ‌

Victoria ruled over her massive empire for an incredible 63 years. At her Diamond Jubilee in 1898, she marked two final firsts.

She was captured on film for the first time, and she became the first royal to send a telegram. Her brief message of "From my heart, I thank my beloved people. May God bless them!" was sent to people across the United Kingdom and to all of its colonies.

Four years later, on Jan. 22, 1901, she passed away. She remained, until recently, the longest-serving monarch in British history.

It can be challenging to view rulers as little more than soundbites or caricatures. But Victoria’s reign, long as it was, deserves nuance.‌

‌Victoria's official portrait for her Diamond Jubilee, marking her reign of 60 years. Image via W. and D. Downey/National Archives of Canada/Wikimedia Commons.‌

She was, by all accounts, an extremely private person who felt both love and loss deeply and viewed her role as a duty and a service. She was also an extremely wealthy person whose power and status shielded her from the effects industrialization and imperialism had on her subjects. Victoria's experience as leader offers a glimpse into how much was different for a female monarch at the time and how little some things have changed.‌

To learn more about Queen Victoria's reign, watch "Victoria" on PBS: Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern starting Jan. 15, 2017.  

‌Edit‌

"Generation X" got its name in the early '90s from an article turned book by Canadian writer Douglas Coupland. And ever since, they've been fighting or embracing labels like "slacker" and "cynic." That is, until Millennials came of age and all that "you kids today" energy from older generations started to get heaped on them. Slowly, Gen X found they were no longer being called slackers... they weren't even being mentioned at all. And that suits them just fine.

Here are 17 memes that will resonate with just about anyone born between 1965 and 1980.

Gen X basically invented "Whatever."

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Until recently, Generation X has been sitting back and watching as Millennials and Boomers eat each other with an amused, non-confrontational attitude. But recently, Millennials and Gen Z became aware of their presence, and dubbed them "The Karen generation."


They seem to be embracing the Karen thing.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

While I"m pretty sure the "Karen" thing is not complimentary — as BuzzFeed puts it, it's meant to communicate someone who is "the middle-aged white mom who is always asking for the manager and wondering why kids are so obsessed with their identities," lots of people landed on a different Karen to represent the generation: the martini-guzzling, wise-cracking Karen Walker.


Get it right!

gen n memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Well [expletive] me gently with a chainsaw, she's right. The 1980s cult classic starring Winona Ryder and Shannen Doherty really is the Mean Girls of the '80s and a much better term than Karen


The disdain is mutual...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Most of my Gen X friends have Gen Z kids and they are intergenerationally very chill with each other. However, Gen X is the generation most likely to have Boomer parents and younger millennial kids, and this meme seems to be resonating a bunch with Xers of a certain age.


A lot of Xers are enjoying the "OK boomer" squabble.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

The media tends to ignore Generation X as a whole — as a few tweets coming up demonstrate — and this pleases Gen X just fine. After all, they're used to it. They were latchkey kids whose parents both worked long hours, so they're used to being somewhat neglected.


A whole mood.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Gen X: "Look, don't pull us into this. You'll make me spill my beer."


Gen X: Get used to it.

gen x memes

Perhaps Gen X's blasé attitude to the generation wars has something to do with being called "Slackers" for a full decade.


Pass the popcorn.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Aside from this whole "Karen generation" blip, Gen X continues to be largely overlooked, and that fact — as well as their silent delight in it — is possibly one of the most Generation X things to happen to the class of 1965 to 1980.


Pay no attention to the man behind the venetian blinds.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Back in the '90s, Gen X bore the same kind of criticism Boomers tend to heap on Millennials and Gen Z now. It's not necessarily that they want to watch a cage match. It's just they're so relieved it's someone else being called slackers and downers for a change.


See?

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Although this chart doesn't list the generation names, the approximate age ranges are all there... except for a big gap between the ages of 34 and 54 where apparently no humans were born? Poor Gen X (and some elder Millennials) apparently don't have political beliefs worth examining.


Don't you forget about me...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

If Millennials are the "burnout generation," I guess Gen X is truly the invisible generation. I'm starting to feel inspired to write a science fiction novel where everyone born from 1966 to 1980 inhabits a totally different dimension.


There are perks to being invisible...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Being overlooked can be an advantage when you just want to sit in the corner and be immature. Gen X spent all of the 90s being told they were immature slackers, and in their 40s, a lot of them are really leaning into that description, because what does it matter?


"No one cares what we think anyway..."

This GIF of Janeane Garofolo mocking her classmates at the high school reunion is basically a whole Gen X mood and definitely captures how a lot of this generation caught in the middle feels about the "OK boomer" wars.


Party on.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Before Brené Brown was telling us all how to dare greatly, Gen X got their inspirational advice from a different kind of TED and his pal Bill, who taught us all how important it is to learn from history and be excellent to each other.


Too late and yet too early.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Romance — or getting lucky — was never easy for Generation X. They were the generation most impacted by the AIDS epidemic when it comes to anxiety about casual sex. Whereas Boomers had the free love of the late '60s, Gen X was about safe sex, which usually meant less sex. And even when having safe casual sex, singles in the '90s had to meet people the old-fashioned way or, if they did meet online, they felt shame over it. Now online dating is the norm.


When Gen X replaces the Boomers.

gen x memes

This is probably an optimistic view — because the truth is there are "Boomers" in every generation, and many of them tend to find their way into powerful positions. Let's call this a best case scenario, though.


The Nihilism Generation

gen x memes

There is no generation more over it than Gen X. They are ready for the apocalypse, but don't expect them to, like, help or anything!