Throughout her lonely and isolated childhood, with only her dogs and dolls for company, Queen Victoria relished the visits of her cousins, many of whom she came to regard as surrogate brothers and sisters. From the newly-created Empire of Mexico, to the largely undiscovered African Congo, their influence crossed continents; and their lives, spanning more than a century, were interwoven with some of the most significant events of the age. They experienced wars, revolutions, personal tragedies and national disasters, and, as in any extended family, their characters were as varied as their experiences. Among them were princes, potentates and dukes; dutiful wives and desperate daughters; an Empress; three Kings; the consorts of Queens; and the spouses of theatre performers and a circus artiste. With several, Queen Victoria maintained a lifelong correspondence, while others were gradually distanced from her. All, however, contributed something to her lifes experience, and many repaid her devotion with love.