Queen Elizabeth II's Relationship to Queen Victoria

How Queen Elizabeth Is Related to Queen Victoria

Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin. ThoughtCo.

Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria are the two longest-serving monarchs in British history. Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901, established many of the precedents that Elizabeth has honored since she was crowned in 1952. How are the two powerful queens related? What is their family tie?

Queen Victoria

When she was born on May 24, 1819, few people thought Alexandra Victoria would one day be queen. Her father, Prince Edward, was the fourth in line to succeed his father, the reigning King George III. In 1818 he wed Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children. Their only child, Victoria, was born the following year.

On Jan. 23, 1820, Edward died, making Victoria fourth in line. Just days later, on Jan. 29, King George III died, to be succeeded by his son George IV. When he died in 1830, the next in line, Frederick, had already passed away, so the crown went William, Victoria's youngest uncle. King William IV ruled until he died with no direct heirs in 1837, just days after Victoria, the heir-apparent, turned 18. She was crowned on June 28, 1838.

Victoria's Family

Conventions of the time were that the queen must have a king and consort, and her maternal uncle had been trying to match her with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Aug. 26, 1819–Dec. 14, 1861), a German prince who was also related to her. After a short courtship, the two were wed on Feb. 10, 1840. Before Albert's death in 1861, the two would have nine children. One of them, Edward VII, would become king of Great Britain. Her other children would marry into the royal families of Germany, Sweden, Romania, Russia, and Denmark.

Queen Elizabeth II 

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the House of Windsor was born on April 21, 1926, to the Duke and Dutchess of York. Elizabeth, known as "Lilibet" as a child, had one younger sister, Margaret (Aug. 21, 1930–Feb. 9, 2002). At the time of her birth, Elizabeth was third in line to the throne, behind both her father and his older brother, Edward, the Prince of Wales.

When King George V died in 1936, the crown went to Edward. But he abdicated in order to marry Wallace Simpson, a twice-divorced American, and Elizabeth's father became King George VI. George VI's death on Feb. 6, 1952, cleared the way for Elizabeth to succeed him and become Britain's first queen since Queen Victoria. 

Elizabeth's Family

Elizabeth and her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (June 10, 1921) met a few times as children. They were married on Nov. 20, 1947. Philip, who had renounced his foreign titles, took the surname Mountbatten and became Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Together, he and Elizabeth have four children. Her eldest, Prince Charles, is first in line to succeed Queen Elizabeth II, and his eldest son, Prince William, is third in line. 

The Lineages of Elizabeth and Philip

The royal families of Europe frequently intermarried, both to maintain their royal bloodlines and to preserve some balance of power between the various empires. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are both related to Queen Victoria. Elizabeth is a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Working backwards in time, the tie can be traced:

  • Elizabeth's father was George VI (1895–1952). He married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900–2002) in 1925, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth II, and Princess Margaret.
  • George VI's father was George V (1865–1936), Elizabeth's grandfather. He married Mary of Teck (1867–1953) in 1893, a German princess raised in England.
  • George V's father was Edward VII (1841–1910). Elizabeth's great-grandfather. He married Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925), a Danish princess.
  • Edward VII's mother was Queen Victoria (1819–1901), Elizabeth's great-great-grandmother. She married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819–1861) in 1840.

Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria:

  • Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenburg (1885–1969), was the daughter of Princess Victoria of Hesse and by the Rhine. Philip's father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (1882–1944); his parents married in 1903.
  • Princess Alice's mother was Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (1863–1950), Philip's maternal grandmother. Princess Victoria was married to Prince Louis of Battenburg (1854–1921) in 1884.
  • Princess Victoria of Hesse and by the Rhine was the daughter of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom (1843–1878), Philip's great-grandmother. Princess Alice was married to Louis IV (1837–1892), Grand Duke of Hesse and by the Rhine. Another daughter of Princess Victoria and Grand Duke Louis IV was Alexandra, the last Tsaritsa of Russia, married to Nicholas II.
  • Princess Alice's mother was Queen Victoria, Philip's great-great-grandmother.

More Similarities and Some Differences

Until 2015, Queen Victoria had been the longest-ruling monarch in the history of England, the United Kingdom, or Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth surpassed that record of 63 years, 216 days, on Sept. 9, 2015.

Both queens married princes of their own choice, quite apparently love matches, who were willing to support their reigning monarch wives.

Both were committed to their "job" of being a monarch. Though Victoria withdrew for a period when mourning her husband's rather early and unexpected death, she was an active monarch even in ill health until her death. And as of this writing, Elizabeth, too, has been active.

Both inherited the crown somewhat unexpectedly. Victoria's father, who had predeceased her, had three older brothers ahead of him in succession, but none of them had children who survived to inherit the honor. And Elizabeth's father, a younger brother, became king only when his brother, King Edward, abdicated when he would not have been able to marry the woman he chose and still remain king.

Victoria and Elizabeth both celebrated Diamond Jubilees. But after 50 years on the throne, Victoria was in ill health and had only a few years left to live. Elizabeth, by comparison, continues to maintain a public schedule after a half-century of rule. At Victoria's jubilee celebration in 1897, Great Britain could rightfully claim to be the most dominant empire on earth, with colonies the world over. Twenty-first-century Britain, by comparison, is a much-diminished power, having relinquished nearly all of its empire.