Over the next few years Queen Victoria visited mainland Europe many times, though by 1900 European opposition to the war over gold in South Africa (known as the Boer War, the Second Boer War, or the South African War) made such visits inadvisable. She took her first trip to Ireland since the Famine, to thank Ireland for its military contributions.
In July 1900, Victoria’s second son Alfred died at a week shy of 56, of throat cancer. His only son to survive to adulthood had died the year before, following a suicide attempt. In her diary she wrote, “It is a horrible year, nothing but sadness & horrors of one kind & another.” She spent Christmas with her family, then early January weak and sickly. She died January 22, 1901 and 81 years of age.
By the time of her death Queen Victoria had outlived a father, mother, husband, daughter, two sons, and eleven grandchildren. She lived for the births of all 44 of her grandchildren, and the first several births of her 87 great-grandchildren. Her empire expanded, stretching across the globe. The monarchy survived rebellion, industrialization, and an expansion of voting rights to more men.
At the time of her death, Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years, seven months, and two days made her both the longest reigning British monarch and the longest reigning queen regnant in world history. A queen regnant rules in her own right, not by virtue of her husband or son. Both titles remained Victoria’s until sixteen months ago when, on September 9, 2015 her great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her.
When she passed away Victoria was at one of the high points of her popularity. She was seen by nationalist and imperialist Britains as a kind of maternal, benevolent figure, a mother hen watching over her territories. The Grandmother of Europe ensured there would be future royal generations by her prodigious reproduction, and by the marriage alliances she brokered for her children and grandchildren. The last of her children Princess Beatrice lived until 1944, and her last grandchild Princess Alice of Albany lived until 1981.