Modern badges are made from a wide range of materials including plastic, metal and fabric. Badges may be worn for many reasons including personal achievement, to show authority, membership of a formal organisation, personal interests and identity or where you have been on holiday. Button badges, like this one, were invented in the USA and it was quickly realised how effective a means of publicity and promotion they could be.
Victoria was born on 14 May 1819 and became queen in June 1837 following the death of her uncle, King William IV. She came to the throne at the age of 18 and reigned for the next 63 years until her death in January 1901. She and her husband Prince Albert had nine children, five daughters and four sons, and 42 grandchildren. Victoria was skilled at drawing and painting and from the age of 13 she kept a diary describing her family life and royal duties. She is currently the longest reigning British monarch.
Queen Victoria’s popularity
Victoria came to the throne at a time when the popularity of the monarchy was at a low ebb. While William IV had done something to compensate for the profligate and scandal-ridden reign of George IV, he only became king at the age of 69 and died seven years later. The accession of a young queen offered the promise of a fresh, new beginning. This promise was fulfilled as Victoria and Prince Albert maintained a high profile both through public engagements and patronage and through the production of seven children in the first ten years of their marriage.
After the death of Albert in 1861, Victoria experienced a sharp drop in popularity when her grief caused her to withdraw from public life. Under the guidance of her ministers, she eventually began to make some public appearances, but the early 1870s saw an upsurge in republican sentiment. In 1876 an opportunity was created to galvanise and combine public affection for the queen and patriotic enthusiasm for the British Empire. An act of parliament was passed giving Victoria the title Empress of India, This was marked in 1877 by a grand ceremony in Delhi – see Object File: The State Entry into Delhi. Victoria’s role as head of state both in Britain and across British territories was further reasserted by her Golden Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The celebrations were attended by senior figures from the colonies and dominions and troops from all over the Empire took part in the parades through the streets of London.
It was in Queen Victoria’s reign that constitutional monarchy acquired the philosophical basis and practical form that we recognise today, where the monarch does not play a part in the day to day running of the state, but acts principally as a focus for national unity and identity. In the nineteenth century this role was reinforced by advances in print technologies and photography and the growth of forms of mass media such as newspapers, posters and cheap transfer-printed ceramics through which the image of the queen and the events of her reign could be communicated more widely than ever before. From Victoria’s time on, royal births and weddings, coronations, jubilees and funerals could be marked by the mass production of commemorative memorabilia and turned into national and international focuses for celebration of the monarchy and of Britain.
Queen Victoria jubilee badge
Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee
Short biography of Queen Victoria
Short biography of Queen Victoria by the Royal Household
A history of royal jubilees in public spaces
Queen Victoria: a personal history
An acclaimed biography by Christopher Hibbert published by Harper Collins (2010).