Queen Victoria and Ceylon | Sunday Observer

Queen Victoria and Ceylon

8 August, 2021

Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it was known then was ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British for a long time and became an independent country in 1948.

There are different opinions about the colonial rulers and the period during which our country was ruled by them.

Although these foreign nations are responsible for many of the injustices we have faced as a country, we have also received from them some of the infrastructure, legal systems, and a Constitution needed to develop the country.

There are many large buildings, railways, highways and botanical gardens built by the colonial rulers in our country that can even be seen today.

Also, 74 years after independence, monuments can still be seen all over the country to remind us that we were one time a country ruled by foreign nations. This article is about such a unique monument, erected in the city of Colombo.

Victoria Memorial, Colombo 7

Many of you have surely seen the Lionel Wendt Theatre near Colombo 7. The monument is located adjacent to that place and there is a statue of the late Queen Victoria, who was born in 1819 and served as the Queen of Great Britain and all its crown colonies from 1837 until her death in 1901.

According to sources, this monument was built in 1893.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Victoria, which is also called her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, her statue was built by George W. Wade, who was well known for the construction of statues of British Royals and politicians.

The statue was originally erected near what was then used as the official residence of the then Governor of Britain to Ceylon (now President’s House) and has been placed in several other places until it was erected at its present location.

Although originally placed near the Presidential Palace, it was later removed from the President’s House and placed on a plot of land near the Colombo National Library, out of public view, due to a widespread belief that the statue could have some bad effects.

However, at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, Prince Charles, one of the grandsons of the late Queen Victoria, attended as the Chief Guest, prompting the authorities to relocate the statue to a more suitable location.

Following the decision, the statue of Queen Victoria was placed near the Viharamahadevi Park, which was formerly known as the Victoria Park in Colombo, where it can be seen now.

The statue depicts Queen Victoria seated on her throne and has been restored on several occasions to this day.

Queen Victoria

The reign of Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to January, 22, 1901, over Great Britain, Ireland, and all other countries, including Ceylon, is known as the “Victorian Era”.

It was a time of great industrial, political, scientific, and military renaissance. In 1876, she was given the additional title of “Emperor of India” by the British Parliament.

Queen Victoria’s parents were Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Straittern, and the fourth son of King George III, and Princess Victoria of Saxiburg-Salfeld.

By 1820, the Duke and his father had also died, and Princess Victoria grew up under the strict supervision of her mother and her mother’s financial administrator, John Conroy. At the age of 18, she inherited the throne.

Holding the throne for nearly 64 years, she went down in history as the longest-serving Queen of Great Britain, but her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II broke that record.

In 1840, Queen Victoria married her cousin, Prince Albert. Queen Victoria is known as the ‘Grandmother of Europe’ because her children were married to royals and other aristocratic families in many parts of Europe.

After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria refrained from appearing in public, but was able to regain the popularity she had enjoyed before appearing in public at the end of her reign.

Considered one of the oldest parks in the country, the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo was also built during her reign. As a result, it was originally called “Victoria Park”. However, later, around 1958, it was renamed as Viharamahadevi Park.