Following the death of her beloved husband, Albert, Victoria plunged into mourning, wearing black for the rest of her life and refusing to perform her duties in public. Her reclusive habits saw her popularity plunge and the spectre of republicanism being discussed even in Parliament. However, the efforts of two prime ministers, Gladstone and Disraeli, to coax her back into public life, plus the support of a Scottish ghillie, John Brown, started to have some effect. The turning point proved to be the illness and recovery of her eldest son, Bertie, after which Victoria once again became a figure of popular sympathy. From the 1870s, Victoria was a symbol of British imperial expansion and was once more at the heart of national and international affairs. But eventually, time would catch up with her and the Victorian sun would set…. . .
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