Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901)
Victoria was one of the most memorable and endearing of English monarchs. Her reign lasted more than sixty-three years, longer than that of any other British monarch, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. The Victorian Era came at the height of the Industrial Revolution, a period of significant social, economic, and technological change in the United Kingdom. It was also during her reign that the United Kingdom became the largest superpower the world had ever seen.
The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha first came to the British Royal Family in 1840 with the marriage of Victoria to Prince Albert, son of Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Their strong bond was well documented and together they had nine children. Albert died in 1861 and a distraught Victoria became a recluse, despite being bestowed the title Empress of India in 1876. Victoria was the first British monarch to be photographed, although she often dressed as a widow and wore a glum expression. She died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by her many children and grandchildren.
Edward VII (1901 – 1910)
Victoria's eldest son, Edward, was the only monarch to have reigned over Great Britain purely from the family of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales, and did have the distinction of having been heir apparent to the throne longer than anyone in English or British history, though as of 22nd April 2011 that distinction is now held by HRH Prince Charles.
Edward's nine-year reign is now known as the Edwardian period. Edward was a successful monarch, a Freemason and, of course, the face of King Edward cigars!
During his time on the throne he saw the first official recognition of the office of the Prime Minister, and in 1908 he became the first British monarch to visit Russia. Edward also played a considerable role in the modernisation of the British Home Fleet and, after the Second Boer War, reform of the Army Medical Services. Sadly, his vice of smoking was to kill him; towards the end of his life he suffered from severe bouts of bronchitis and died of a heart attack.