Queen Victoria was the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1901. During her reign, there were eight attempts on her life, beginning in 1840 when an unemployed 18-year-old named Edward Oxford shot at her and missed. Five other would-be assassins also fired pistols at the Queen while she was riding in her carriage, but she was not injured in these attempts. The only time Queen Victoria was physically injured by an assailant occurred in June 1850, when an ex-soldier named Robert Pate surprised the 30-year-old monarch in her courtyard and hit her over the head with an iron-tipped cane, resulting in bruises and a nasty scar. Most of the Queen's attackers claimed insanity, leading to a re-examination of the legal standards surrounding such a plea.
A reign of more than six decades:
- The attempts on Queen Victoria’s life, and her "stiff upper lip" response to them, made the long-ruling monarch even more popular with the general public.
- Queen Victoria’s imposing reputation was at odds with her small stature. She was less than 5 feet (1.5 m) tall.
- She was a carrier of the X-chromosome mutation that leads to hemophilia, an affliction that became known as the “royal disease” due to its prevalence among the European monarchs who were her descendants.