Socialist Worker

Statue 1: Queen Victoria (1819–1901)

Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace

Issue No. 1963

Leon Kuhn

Leon Kuhn's Queen Victoria

When Victoria came to the throne in 1837 it was like a breath of fresh air to the middle class compared with her extravagent, arrogant and stupid uncles, two of whom had preceded her as kings.

But the working class was not so convinced.

The Chartists’ 1842 petition to the queen demanded she pay attention to “the great disparity existing between the wages of the producing millions and the salaries of those whose comparitive usefulness ought to be questioned, where riches and luxury prevail among the rulers and poverty and starvation among the ruled”.

Victoria displayed some signs of sympathy for liberal causes in her earlier years, but this disappeared as her reign drew on.

In 1867 she complained that the Irish had never “become reconciled to English rule, which they hate — so different from the Scots, who are so loyal.

“We shall have to hang some, and it ought to have been done before.”

By the end of her reign she had re-invented herself as the Great White Queen as the prime minister, Disraeli, drove through a murderous imperial expansion across the globe.

Her attitude to British military incursions into Sudan echoes those who justify troops in Iraq today:

“A blow must be struck or we shall never be able to convince the Mohammedans that they have not beaten us.”

The next statue is » 2 Frederick, Duke of York (1763–1827)

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