Considered a national heroine and a symbol of the struggle for independence, Boudica was a celtic Queen who led a massive uprising against the Roman Empire that ruled over Britain at the time. While she ultimately failed to free the isles of Roman control, she and her army wrought destruction across the Roman settlements, killing many soldiers and even causing Emperor Nero to consider withdrawing from Britain entirely. However, at the last moment, her army was defeated and she committed suicide in order to avoid being caught.
Queen Victoria presided over a massive territorial expansion of the British Empire, the industrial revolution and the abolition of slavery. Her new style of rule carved out a new role for the monarchy which would be upheld by her successors to this day. In 1877, Benjamin Disraeli, the Prime Minister of England, proclaimed Queen Victoria the Empress of India. This was done in order to bind India and Britain more closely, as well as in response to the increasing number of empires being proclaimed all across Europe.
There is a good reason that the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (the Elizabethan Age) is hailed fondly by historians as a Golden Age for Britain. During her reign, she presided over the religious unification of a fractured, divided England, defeating the fearsome Spanish Armada in 1588, and also responsible for overseeing the exploration and early colonisation of the New World. Credited with modernising many aspects of the monarchy, ‘Good Queen Bess’ as she was known by her subjects died having never married, leaving her nearest royal relative, James VI of Scotland to take the English throne.
While her fame is often overshadowed by that of her infamous sons, Richard I and John I, Eleanor of Aquitaine was arguably one of the most powerful and influential women of the Middle Ages. Eleanor ascended from a mere Duchess to become the Queen of France and later England through her marriage to King Henry II. Furthermore, she was a military leader during the Second Crusade, and lived well into the reign of her son John before dying at the grand age of 82 in 1204.
The only monarch in British history to have seen a platinum jubilee (a celebration marking 70 years of continuous rule), Elizabeth II was never destined to be queen. Upon the sudden abdication of her uncle, Edward VII in 1936, Elizabeth’s life was turned upside down as she suddenly became the heir-apparent to the throne of Great Britain and the empire. When she took the crown in 1952 upon the death of her father, George VI, contemporaries hailed her ascension as the beginning of a New Elizabethan Age. Since then, she has presided over the decolonisation of many of Britain’s overseas territories, the formation of the Commonwealth, and while not as its Queen, served Britain through World War II.