chapter  8
45 Pages

Preservation and Progress: Representing the People, c.1845–c.1945

In 1837, at the age of eighteen, Queen Victoria, niece of William (who lacked a legitimate heir), came to the throne. The political/constitutional crisis of 1832 was therefore behind her, though the economic/political crisis of the Corn Laws lay ahead. At this critical period of change, therefore, the monarchy was in youthful and inexperienced hands. Few would then have suspected that she would reign until 1901, thus far the longest reign in Brit­ ish history. In his chapter on monarchy in The English Constitution, Bagehot argued that of all nations in the world the English were the least a nation of pure philosophers. It would be a very serious matter for them to have to change the visible head of their world every four or five years. Victoria cer­ tainly enabled them to escape that fate.