Newly-unearthed footage shows Queen Victoria on royal visit to Ireland just a year before she died
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Newly-unearthed footage shows Queen Victoria on royal visit to Ireland just a year before she died

HISTORIC film footage of Queen Victoria on her fourth and final royal visit to Ireland less than a year before her death has been rediscovered.

The high-quality black and white clip – found in the archive of a New York museum – was shot in April 1900 and shows the elderly monarch wearing sunglasses as she travels in a carriage along a road crowded with onlookers in Dublin.

She is also seen holding an umbrella to shade herself from the sun and smiling as she receives a bouquet of flowers from locals in the Irish capital.

The video is believed to be one of the last times Victoria was caught on camera before she died several months later on January 22, 1901 at the age of 81.

It was discovered at the New York Museum of Modern Art by British Film Institute (BFI) curator Bryony Dixon, who said the footage "humanises" the Queen as she can be seen smiling and engaging with the public despite her failing health.

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"I nearly fell off my chair because I'd never seen Victoria in close-up before," Ms Dixon told BBC News.

"It is completely unique because you can see the Queen's face for the first time properly since 1900, since this was shown.

"You can see her expressions, you can see her in movement, rather than just as a stiff portrait or a still photograph".

The curator added: "She's wearing sunglasses, and you'd never be able to see that normally.

"Queen Victoria was always very up to date with technology and she was interested in art.

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"She was interested in photography in particular so here, instead of a posed photo or painting, we see her in movement."

'The Famine Queen'

Victoria, born Alexandrina Victoria in 1819, ascended to the throne aged just 18 after her father Prince Edward's three elder brothers all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children.

She married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840 and they had nine children.

But after Albert's death in 1861, she famously retreated from public appearances and became known for wearing black and living in mourning.

Her reign of 63 years and seven months was longest in British royal history until Queen Elizabeth II broke the record in September 2015.

Victoria holds a particularly controversial reputation in Ireland, where she is often dubbed 'The Famine Queen' for her perceived inaction during the potato blight of 1845-1849 – which left around one million Irish people dead and a further million or more emigrating abroad.

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