The Isle of Wight /ˈaɪl əv ˈwaɪt/ is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is located in the English Channel, about 4 mi (6 km) off the coast of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by the Solent. The island has several resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.
Until 1995, like Jersey and Guernsey, the island had a governor.[n 1]
Home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes, the island has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world's first hovercraft, and the testing and development of Britain's space rockets. The island hosts annual festivals including the Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held. The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.
The Isle of Wight was owned by a Norman family until 1293 and was earlier a kingdom in its own right. It was part of Hampshireuntil 1890 when it became an independent administrative county. It shared a Lord Lieutenant with Hampshire until 1974, when it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan ceremonial county, giving it its own Lord Lieutenant. Apart from a shared police force, there is now no formal administrative link between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire. In the 1970s, there was a political movement seeking the status of Crown Dependency.
The quickest public transport link to the mainland is to and from Southsea (Portsmouth) by hovercraft, while five ferry services shuttle across the Solent from Southampton, Lymington and Portsmouth.