Queen Victoria inherited the throne of Great Britain and Ireland on 20th June 1837. Her uncle, William IV, died leaving no children and his younger brothers, including Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, did not outlive him. Victoria had just turned eighteen on 24th May 1837 which meant a regency – whereby her mother would have been appointed to rule on her behalf if she was still a minor – was avoided; desirable to both the old King and Victoria as her mother was heavily influenced by her advisor Sir John Conroy. Nevertheless, Victoria was still very young and inexperienced due to her sheltered childhood – the world she was cast into was overwhelming and she relied heavily on advice, first from the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, and later from her husband, Prince Albert.
Victoria’s diary for 20th June 1837 reads:
I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen. (St Aubyn, pp. 55–57; Woodham-Smith, p. 138)