This Day in History – January 22nd, 1901

One hundred and fourteen years ago today the Victorian Era came to an end with the death of Queen Victoria, and the Edwardian Era was born, even if it only lasted nine years.

King Edward VIIKing Edward VII was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Edward was related to royalty throughout Europe. Before his accession to the throne, he served as heir apparent and held the title of Prince of Wales for longer than any of his predecessors. During the long reign of his mother, he was largely excluded from political power and came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite. He travelled throughout Britain, performing ceremonial public duties, and represented Britain on visits abroad. His tours of North America in 1860 and the Indian subcontinent in 1875 were popular successes, but his reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother.

As king, Edward played a role in the modernization of the British Home Fleet and the reorganization of the British Army after the Second Boer War. He re-instituted traditional ceremonies as public displays and broadened the range of people with whom royalty socialized. He fostered good relations between Britain and other European countries, especially France, for which he was popularly called “Peacemaker”, but his relationship with his nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was poor. The Edwardian era, which covered Edward’s reign and was named after him, coincided with the start of a new century and heralded significant changes in technology and society, including steam turbine propulsion and the rise of socialism. He died on May 6th, 1910 in the midst of a constitutional crisis that was resolved the following year by the Parliament Act 1911, which restricted the power of the unelected House of Lords.

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