Friday, December 7, 2012

Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 15): Sitting in the Chapel Royal

Front Row at Victoria & Albert's Wedding
Painting by Sir George Hayter, 1840
Copyright Unknown.
Photo Source: HallFive
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

At noon on February 10, 1840, some of the most important people in the western world could be found sitting in the Chapel Royal awaiting the wedding of the century. Some were seated in the royal gallery abutting the Chapel’s main entrance, while others graced the pews on the floor. Still others viewed the proceedings from the east and west galleries, which flanked both sides of the altar. There were also seats just below and to the right of the choir, and still more in the two upper galleries which stretched across the full length of the chapel supported upon two Gothic pillars made of gilded cast iron.

Though the Chapel was decked out in highest fashion, according to Eva Hope the overall effect was one of ‘simplicity and elegance.’ In every direction the oaken panels and wooden cornices were covered in a thin layer of gold, and in front of the communion table, about six feet outside the crimson-lined railing, sat four unique chairs of state, gilt and upholstered in crimson velvet. The four chairs of state were reserved for Queen Victoria, Prince Albert Victoria’s mother (Princess Victoire, Duchess of Kent), and the Queen Dowager (Queen Adelaide).

The largest and tallest was of exquisite workmanship and was set just to the right of center for Her Majesty the Queen. Beneath her chair and Prince Albert’s to her left were hassocks on which their Royal Highnesses could kneel at the altar for their private devotions.

To the Queen’s immediate left, another of the state chairs was reserved for her mother, the Duchess of Kent. The fourth one to Albert’s immediate right was placed for the Queen Dowager, Queen Adelaide.

To Queen Adelaide’s right a row of guest chairs accommodated Ernest I (Albert’s father), Prince Ernest II (Albert’s brother), Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel (Duchess of Cambridge/Victoria’s aunt by marriage), Prince George of Cambridge (Victoria’s cousin), Princess Augusta Sophia (Victoria’s paternal aunt), and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (Victoria’s cousin).

To the Duchess of Kent’s left two guest chairs accommodated Queen Victoria’s paternal uncles, Prince Augustus Frederick (Duke of Sussex) and Prince Adolphus Frederick (Duke of Cambridge). In the above painting, it appears that Ernest II (Prince Albert's brother) is actually at the end of the row next to Princess Mary Adelaide, and the Duke of Sussex is standing in position to give the Bride away, rather than standing at his seat beside Victoria's mother.

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