Public proclamation of the death of Queen Victoria and the accession to the throne of King Edward VI
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Proclamation of the accession to the throne of Edward VII following Queen Victoria's death at 6.30 on Tuesday 22 January 1901 at the age of 81. She died peacefully at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Official announcements were made at 6.45 and the next day proclamations were held all around the country (a necessity at a time before radio and television). Her funeral service was held on February 2. On February 4 she was buried, beside her beloved Prince Albert, in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum at Windsor Home Park. She had left elaborate instructions for her funeral. As she had wished, her own sons lifted her into the coffin. She wore a white dress and her wedding veil. Because Victoria had disliked black funerals, London was festooned in purple and white. Victoria had reigned for nearly 64 years - the longest reign in British history. Her eldest son Albert Edward (Bertie) was 59 when he became king, having been heir apparent for longer than anyone else in British history. Queen Victoria had been the last of the Hanoverian Monarchs. Edward's accession changed the family line to that of the house of Saxe-Coburg; a title inherited from his father, Prince Albert's line. Edward's advanced age by the time of his accession in 1901 was a cause of anxiety throughout his reign -his coronation in 1902 had to be postponed due to ill-health- but he devoted the last ten years of his life to the service of his country. Criticised for his social life, Edward's main interests lay in foreign affairs, and military and naval matters. Fluent in French and German, Edward made a number of visits abroad (in 1904, he visited France - a visit which helped to create the atmosphere which made the subsequent Anglo-French entente cordiale possible); he was related to nearly every Continental sovereign and came to be known as the 'Uncle of Europe'. Edward also played an active role in encouraging military and naval reforms, pressing for the reform of the Army Medical Service and the modernisation of the Home Fleet. In the last year of his life he was involved in the constitutional crisis brought about by the refusal of the Conservative majority in the Lords to pass the Liberal budget of 1909. The King died before the situation could be resolved by the Liberal victory in the election in 1910.