On 24 May 1837, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent celebrated her 18th birthday, and in less than a month, she would ascend the throne as Queen Victoria after the death of her uncle King William IV.
There had been fears, however, if King William IV died before she had turned 18 as Victoria was underage, there would have been a regency in place in the form of Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent. The Regency Act 1830 set out plans for the Duchess to act as regent until Victoria came of age, but the King admitted he did not trust the Duchess’s (born Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld) ability to act as regent. His Majesty even declared, in front of the Duchess of Kent, that he hoped to live until Victoria was 18 so that she would never have to serve as regent.
Princess Alexandrina Victoria, or “Drina” as many in her family called her, celebrated with a ball at St James’s Palace with people piling the streets in celebration.
Known for her constant diary keeping, her 18th birthday was no different. The soon-to-be monarch wrote in her diary on that day:
Today is my 18th birthday! How old! and yet how far I am from being what I should be. I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study with renewed assiduity, to keep my attention always well fixed on whatever I am about, and to strive to become every day less trifling and more fit for what, if Heaven wills it, I’m someday to be!… At half past three we drove out… the demonstrations of locality and affection from all the people were highly gratifying. The parks and streets were thronged and everything looked like a Gala day. Numbers of people put down their names and amongst others… good old Labache inscribed his… We went to the ball at St. James’s Palace. The courtyard and the streets were crammed… and the anxiety of the people to see poor stupid me was very great, and I must say I am quite touched by it, and feel proud which I always have done of my country and of the English nation.
Little did she know that in less than a month, her uncle would die at the age of 71, and she would ascend the throne.