Friday, January 25, 2013

Early Victorian Engagement and Wedding Rings

Early Victorian Era Keeper Ring
Photo Source: Denham's

It is somewhat of a misnomer to speak of Early Victorian engagement rings, as the custom of giving them was not well established until the 1890s. Instead, early-century brides were given “keeper” rings, a custom which began in 1761 when King George III gave his intended, Princess Charlotte, a gold band encrusted with diamonds prior to their wedding.

Keeper Rings
These keeper (or guard) rings later served as custodian for the actual betrothal (wedding) ring to protect it from slipping off the finger. This custom continued into the Early Victorian Era, so many of the rings called Early Victorian engagement rings today were originally crafted to be worn as wedding bands set into or behind said guard rings.

Guard rings are still quite popular today and are typically purchased as part of a bridal set or wedding set. The main difference is that today guard rings are given during the wedding ceremony, whereas in Victorian times they were given in lieu of an engagement ring at the time of a couple’s formal engagement.

It appears that in 1839 Prince Albert was the first to break with the tradition of presenting a keeper ring to his intended. Instead, he gave Queen Victoria a diamond memento ring. According to George Harlow, author of The Nature of Diamonds, this sentimental ring was likely paved with several rows of tiny diamonds which adorned her finger in a nearly invisible 18k gold setting. {7}

Coiled Snake Ring
Photo Courtesy of EraGem

Victorian Romance
In 1840, Prince Albert once again broke with tradition. Rather than presenting Victoria with one of the typical half hoop gemstone and diamond rings popular for betrothal rings, he personally designed Queen Victoria ’s engagement ring. He fulfilled his intention to thoroughly enchant her when he fashioned the band into a gold serpent biting its tail.

This symbol of eternal love was further branded with a verdant green emerald atop its head. Emeralds, the symbol of hope, were not only the Queen’s birthstone, but were also endowed with the power of ensuring that a woman would become a loving wife.

Victoria and Albert’s passion for jewelry and jewelry design influenced an entire generation of Romantics. These new Romantics drew from the resources available, including both high- and low-karat gold, silver, rose gold, and pinchbeck (imitation gold made of zinc and copper), they fashioned bold and intricate settings of hearts, bows, or flowers.

As a rule, Early Victorian Era wedding rings were as ornate and whimsical as the young Queen who inspired them and as sentimental and distinguished as her Prince, who lavished his bride with copious gifts of jeweled creations of his own design. Not only did Albert’s serpent motif become a mainstay of early Victorian betrothal rings, but soon other natural motifs, including butterflies, daisies, doves, and butterflies, made their debut.

Victorian Opal Engagement Ring
Photo Courtesy of EraGem

Victorian Flare
To add a flare of color and up the ante on splendor, jewelers would imbed the most popular gemstones of the day into these naturally-inspired settings. Bright red rubies, deep blue sapphires, and shimmering green emeralds were most popular among the Royals and the upper crust nobility. For those of more modest means, the pastel lavender and aqua hues of chalcedony were popular, as were the violet strains of amethyst, the deep reds of garnet, and the bright colors of topaz.

In 1849, access to Australian opals, which became one of Queen Victoria’s favorite gemstones, gave rise to an increased use of opals in keeper and betrothal rings during the Early Victorian Era. Pearls also enjoyed great favor for wedding rings throughout this time period.

Diamonds, however, would remain the gemstone of the elite for many more decades. Cut in the old mine style and clustered together as flowers or posies to enhance their impact, these white crystals would remain rare and small until the Kimberly diamond mine was discovered in South Africa in the 1860s.


1. “American Jewelry: An Historical Timeline.” Antique Jewelry University, accessed January 13, 2013.
2. “Antique and Vintage Designs.” Rings with Love, accessed January 13, 2013.
3. “Antique Engagement Ring Settings.” Engagement Ring Settings, accessed January 13, 2013.
4. Bradley, Tara. “Victorian Engagement Rings (1830s-1900s).” Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Accessed January 13, 2013.
5. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part II, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 15, 2013.
6. Fragoso, Lilyanna. “Engagement Rings in the 18th and 19th Centuries.” eHow. Accessed January 13, 2013.
7. Harlow, George E. The Nature of Diamonds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
8. “History of Jewelry, The.” Brilliance Jewelry, accessed January 13, 2013.
9. “History of Wedding Rings, The.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 13, 2013.
10. “Keeper Ring.” Antique Jewelry University, accessed January 13, 2013.
11. “Promise Ring Meaning.” Antique Jewelry Investor, accessed January 13, 2013.</
12. Schoening, Lisa and Kurt Rothner. “Why a Vintage Engagement Ring?” Excalibur Jewelry, May 5, 2012. Accessed January 13, 2013.
13. “Victorian Wedding Ring and Victorian Engagement Rings, The.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 13, 2013.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The History of All-White Wedding Jewelry

Diamond and Pearl Cluster Ring
Copyright 2012. EraGem Jewelry
Used with permission.

All-white wedding jewelry, particularly those pieces set with pearls and diamonds, grew in popularity throughout the latter half of the Victorian Era. While the royals had been wearing pearls and diamonds for their weddings for centuries, those of lesser means were restricted to smaller gemstones or simple gold bands for their bridal jewelry.

Two major milestones during the Mid-Victorian Era made it possible for upper- and middle-class brides to begin emulating Queen Victoria's all-white theme three decades after her royal wedding. First was the tragic death of Prince Albert in 1861. Second was the discovery of the The De Beers and Kimberley Diamond Mines in the 1870s.

Perpetual Mourning
After her beloved Albert died, Queen Victoria wore shades of black and grey, and for a large portion of the Mid-Victorian Era, Her Majesty forbade members of the Royal family from wearing anything that wasn’t lavender, mauve, or grey.

She also decreed that women of court could wear only dark jewelry with small rubies, emeralds or sapphires during the day. In the evening, only diamonds, pearls, and opals were allowed . It was strictly forbidden for women of class to wear whimsical, colorful, or overly dazzling jewelry.

As the populace interpreted these royal mourning customs, the color slowly drained out of the jewelry industry. Colored gemstones slowly fell out of favor, even for bridal jewelry. During this dark season, the rise of diamonds and pearls in bridal jewelry was evident. Brides, primarily restricted to diamonds, pearls, black glass, rubies, emeralds, crystals, and jet, chose the lightest of these choices—pearls and diamonds.

Pearl & Diamond Engagement Ring
Copyright 2012 EraGem Estate Jewelry

Diamonds, Diamonds, Diamonds
Though opals were popular for engagement rings during the Early Victorian period, after Albert’s death they fell out of favor for a wedding celebration. An article in an 1875 copy of the Young Ladies’ Journal advises, “opals, on account of their signification being ‘sorrow’ are not fashionable for engagement rings.” {1, p. 139}

This same article confirms the popularity of pearls and diamonds: “Any pretty fancy ring may be worn as an engagement-ring. Pearls or diamonds are considered the proper gems. The engagement-ring is not considered after marriage to answer the purpose of a keeper. A keeper should be a chased* gold ring without stones in it. It is worn on the same finger as the wedding-ring.” {1, p. 139}
Thanks to the prolific mining of diamonds in Africa, diamonds flooded the market. The result was diamonds, diamonds, diamonds at reasonable prices. From then on, diamonds and pearls have been the tradition for wedding jewelry.

Thanks to a wildly successful campaign by De Beers, launched in 1938, just before the War, diamond engagement rings became THE trend. {7} Though the Queen’s prolonged mourning most certainly hindered the gaiety of the early Victorian period, the growing trend toward all-white wedding jewelry was not necessarily a downer trend. In fact, the elegance, beauty, and simplicity of the designs of the Grand Era inspire many women, and these beautiful antique styles remain a solid choice for today’s bride.

*Chased gold is gold that has been embossed.


1. Flower, Margaret. Victorian Jewellery. London: Cassell & Co., 1951.
2. “History of Wedding Rings.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 12, 2013.
3. Prima, Michelle. The Victorian Wedding.” Cape May County Herald Online. February 2, 2010. Accessed January 13, 2013.
4. Stajda, Sharon. “Wedding Traditions & Customs—Historical Wedding Fashions—1850-1950.” Squidoo. Last modified January 24, 2013. Accessed January 12, 2013.
5. “The History of Jewelry.” Brilliance Jewelry, accessed February 12, 2013.
6. “The Victorian Wedding Ring and Victorian Engagement Rings.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 12, 2013.
7. Friedman, Uri. "How an Ad Campaign Invented the Diamond Engagement Ring." The Atlantic, February 13, 2015,

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Monday, January 21, 2013

Queen Victoria’s Nuptial Gifts

Queen Victoria + Prince Albert's Wedding Cake
Photo Source: The Wedding Dress Blog

The Cakes
In the months preceding Queen Victoria’s winter wedding, over one hundred wedding cakes were ordered from various confectioners in London. Gunter’s Tea Shop of Berkeley Square was commissioned to bake fourteen of these confectionary masterpieces.

Assumed by James Gunter in 1799, the popular bakery was well established by 1839, when the Royal orders were sent. By this time, Robert Gunter (James’ son), “cook, confectioner, and fruiter”, and his cousin, John, were the managing partners and chief bakers. {44, p. 362}

While the most elaborate of the Queen’s wedding cakes made by Gunter’s was reserved for the royal party held at St. James’s Palace the evening after the wedding ceremony, the other thirteen cakes were given as gifts to Princess Sophia (George III’s daughter), the Duchess of Kent, Princess Sophia of Gloucester, the Duke of Sussex, Viscount Melbourne, the Lord Chancellor, the Marquis of Narmanby, Sir John Cam Hobhouse, the Earl of Clarendon, Lord Holland, the Right Honorable T. B. Macaulay, and the Earl of Erroll. {17}

A batch of eighteen cakes was also requested from Gunter’s stiff competitor, Mr. Charles Waud of New Bond Street, London. {44} Charles Waud allegedly filed for bankruptcy in 1833, but he seems to have made a glowing comeback by 1840, when he artfully created what Ms. Eva Hope calls “chaste and elegant” cakes. {72; 17 p. 724-25}

Ms. Hope further describes the wedding confections as “naturally and delicately fanciful,” absent the typical frippery {17, p. 724-25}. Abandoning the usual white mortar work, silver leaf, and cherubs, Mr. Waud molded the cakes into vases and baskets with architectural curves reminiscent of the Etruscan masters.

The cakes were “embellished with leaves, flowers, and fruit,” or with “shells and rock work, waves and ripples.” {17, p. 724-25} Their only apparent flaw was that they were so beautiful that few would dare carve and serve them.

Five of these divine cakes were sent to Lacken, Hanover, and Coburg, while those remaining were presented to Dowager Queen Adelaide, Princess Augusta, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl of Uxbridge, the Earl of Albermarle, Right Honorable F. T. Baring, the Marquis of Landsdowne, Viscount Palmerston, the Earl of Minto, the Right Honorable Henry Labouchere, Viscount Duncanon, and Viscount Morpeth. {17, p. 725}

It is not clear from the historical records which confectioners made the remaining seventy cakes. If you have information regarding these other gift cakes, I do hope you will leave a comment and let me know. Be sure to include your sources, as well.

Coburg Eagle Brooch, 1840
Bridesmaids Gifts from Queen Victoria
Turquoise, diamond, pearls, rubies
Copyright The Royal Collection
Photo Source: The Royal Post Blog

Jeweled Favors
Their wedding was just the beginning of Queen Victoria's and Prince Albert's passion for jewelry design. Well in advance of the ceremony, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert sat before several different artists, most probably including Sir William Ross, the Queen's "Miniature Painter in Ordinary", Henry Pierce Bone, and possibly Sir William Ross and/or William Drummond to fashion numerous miniature portraits of the Queen and her Consort. {A}

Some of these miniature portraits were then sent to Mssrs. Rundell and Bridge, the Royal Jewelers from 1797 to 1843. The prestigious jewelers set these miniatures into the lids of finely crafted gold snuff boxes, which were presented to each of the foreign ambassadors on the day of the wedding ceremony.

Her Majesty also commissioned Mr. William Wyon, chief engraver at the royal mint, to etch their profiles into one hundred quarter-inch medallions, which were later affixed to gold rings and distributed most generously to guests on their wedding day. Eva Hope reports that under magnification the Queen’s features are “beautifully delineated” and the inscription ‘Victoria Regina’ crowns her beautiful head. {17, p. 729-30}

Perhaps the most exquisite of these jeweled favors were the twelve Coburg eagle brooches made for the Queen’s bridesmaids. The body of each bird was seeded entirely with turquoise beads, symbolic of true love. Each eagle clasped in each of its gold talons a large pearl, also symbolizing true love.
Under the Queen’s personal direction, with some input from Prince Albert, the design of these birds was carried out to perfection by London watchmaker and jeweller Charles Augustus Ferdinand du Ve, a contractor for R. & S. Garrard. {B} Their jeweled faces featured eyes made of rubies to symbolize passion and beaks made of diamonds, representing eternity. {B}

These gifts were unique and exquisite, and it must have been the happy couple’s sheer delight to bestow them upon their most precious guests and family members. However, it is safe to surmise that their most intimate exchanges were their most treasured.

Common Book of Prayer, 1840
Given to Queen Victoria by her mother, the Duchess of Kent
Photo Source: The Royal Collection

Intimate Exchanges
Perhaps the most precious of all of Queen Victoria’s nuptial gifts were those exchanged between the Bride and Groom. The first of these intimate exchanges took place well before the wedding. Prince Albert designed and commissioned the most exquisite engagement ring, the first of what would later be called Victorian engagement rings.

Ever mindful of the symbolism of all things, he designed the band as a twisting serpent biting it’s tail. This symbol of enduring love was crowned with a dark green emerald, the Queen’s birthstone and a powerful stone believed to ensure that a woman would become a loving wife.

Then, just two days before their wedding, Queen Victoria sent a courier to deliver a most prestigious gift to her husband. She had commissioned Rundell & Bridge to fashion the Royal Orders of the Garter (described in detail in the linked post). She also requested that a miniature portrait of herself, painted by Sir William Ross, be set into a mounted watch-case for Albert. {17, p. 730}
Following their very public wedding ceremony, the Royal Couple spent a brief time in secret, at which time Victoria gave her new husband his wedding band.* Though it was not customary for the groom to receive a wedding ring during the ceremony, the sentimental Queen would have wanted Albert to have this very special token of their wedding day.

In addition to these most intimate gifts exchanged between the two of them, Victoria’s family honored the couple with tokens of their affection. The Duchess of Kent commissioned complementary Books of Common Prayer for her daughter and new son-in-law. Bound in red velvet and decorated with Victoria’s monogram on the front board, Victoria’s book featured a metal plate on the back engraved with 10 February 1840. Inside, her mother wrote these words: “Given To my beloved Victoria on her Wedding Day by Her most affectionate Mother.” {B}

Albert’s book was bound in what appears to be green velvet and featured a similar engraved plate on the back. Two golden hands joined together served as both the clasp and as “a reminder of the joining of hands in the marriage ceremony." {49} The bookmark was made of gold and silk ribbon and featured eight gemstones in an acrostic spelling out Victoria’s name: Vermeil, Jargoon, Chrysolite, Turquoise, Opal, Ruby, Jargoon, Amethyst. {49} The Prince’s first name was embossed on the front cover in gold, and he carried this precious book with him to the altar and referred to it during their wedding ceremony.

The Duchess of Kent also commissioned for her daughter a serpentine bracelet fashioned almost entirely of turquoise. The serpent’s head was encrusted with diamonds and rubies, and around its neck it wore a collar of brilliant diamonds. {17, p.731}

Queen Victoria also received gifts from her royal aunts*, as well as a beautiful ruby ring from her older half-sister, Princess Feodora. The central portion of the gemstone ring featured a pear-shaped ruby nestled beside a pear-shaped diamond with a crude diamond tiara set above the stones. {47}

*Details of Albert’s wedding ring and the Queen’s gifts from her aunts have yet to be discovered by this author. I welcome any information regarding these items in the comments section. Please be sure to include your sources.

Additional Sources:
A. National Gallery, The. "Prince Albert, William Charles Ross, 1840." Accessed January 21, 2013.
B. Royal Collection, The. “Victoria & Albert: Art & Love Exhibition. Book of Common Prayer.” Accessed January 21, 2013.
C. Royal Collection, The. “Victoria & Albert: Art & Love Exhibition. The Form of Morning Prayer.” Accessed January 21, 2013.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Bibliography: Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 30)

Victoria + Albert
The Royal Collection, Windsor
Photo Source: PBS

Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert on February 10, 1840, marked an unprecedented event in history. There were no cameras, and as far as I can tell only one painter captured the ceremony on canvas. Another painter captured Her Majesty's beautiful bridesmaids, and there are several portraits of Queen Victoria just prior to and just after her wedding that afford some detail of her jewelry and wedding gown.

With such a scant pictorial record, a historian like myself must rely on the written word. There are countless third- and fourth-hand accounts of the glorious day on the internet, and I credit many of them here in the bibliography, primarily because they led me to the fewer first- and second-hand accounts.

It is these first person narratives which thrill me the most. Written by those who have had access to their private papers or those who knew people who attended the wedding, many of these books are filled with wonderful stories of events peripheral to the wedding. If you happen to write historical fiction, or if you are an aspiring historian, I encourage you to read some of these amazing books for yourself. They are truly delightful.

This bibliographic record is extensive and somewhat overwhelming when taken as a whole, but it is also an art piece in its own right. I scoured the internet, the library shelves, and my own personal collection to find the most accurate, most detailed accounts of that most glorious day in Her Majesty's life. The result is the series you have before you on this site. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as thoroughly as I have enjoyed writing it.

I owe a debt of gratitude to each author listed in this post, as their attention to detail, their clear citation of sources, and their quest to capture the romance and energy of that day helped me deliver this series to you. Without further adieu, I give you my sources...


1. Antique Jewelry University. “Queen Victoria.” Accessed November 15, 2012.
2. Beer Village Heritage. “Lace.” Accessed November 12, 2012.
3. Bell, J. “Bigoraphical Sketches of Illustrious Ladies.” Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine [No. III, Vol. I]: 1806, p. 121-122.
4. Biblioteca Pleyades. “Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense: Order of the Garter. Accessed December 9, 2012.
5. Biblioteca Pleyades. “The Most Noble Order of the Garter.” Accessed December 9, 2012.
6. Bodgas, Meredith. “Royal Wedding: The Meaning Behind Princess Kate’s Bouquet.” Glamour Magazine Online: April 30, 2011.
7. British Monarchy, The Official Website. “The Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840. Accessed November 15, 2012.
8. Dreamstress Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s wedding dress: the one that started it all.” April 18, 2011.
9. Duffy, Kathleen. “Queen Victoria’s Wedding Dress at Kensington Palace, London.” Suite 101. March 3, 2011.
10. Duncan, Andrew. Secret London. London: New Holland Publishers, 2007.
11. From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault Blog. “The Collar and Great George of the Order of the Garter.” June 18, 2012.
12. “From the London Gazettes: Bankrupts.” The Spectator, Vol 6 (1833), p. 937.
13. Georgian Index. “Berkeley Square: Gunter’s Tea Shop.” Last updated March 2003.
14. Gill, Gillian. We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners Rivals. >New York: Ballantine Books/Random House, Inc., 2009.
15. Hibbert, Christopher. Queen Victoria: A Personal History. Cambridge: Da Capo Books, 2000.
16. Historical Dish Blog, The. “The wedding breakfast.” April 30, 2011.
17. Hope, Eva. A Lady, Whose Sources for Collecting the Same are the Highest of Character. Anecdotes, personal traits, and characteristic sketches of Victoria the First. London: William Bennett, 1840.
18. Hope, Eva. Author of ‘Grace Darling.’ Our Queen: A Sketch of the Life and Times of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Walter Scott, [Year uncertain.]
19. Hubpages. “English Royal Wedding: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.” Last updated by scotslass on September 22, 2012.
20. Jonathan. “Turkish diamond necklace of rosettes.” Royal Magazin. Accessed November 15, 2012.
21. Jonathan. “Turkish Diamonds/Gift from Queen Victoria.” Royal Magazin. Accessed November 15, 2012.
22. Katmax1. “10 February 1840 – The Wedding of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert.” LiveJournal. November 26, 2010.
23. Kennedy, Rann. Britain’s Genius: a mask composed on occasion of the marriage of Victoria<… 1840.
24. Kyi, Anna, ed. “The Marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.” Historical Refresher Training April 2009: Windows on the World.
25. Ladd, Sarah. “Gunter’s Tea Shop.” Regency Reflections Blog: July 11, 2012.
26. Longford, Elizabeth. Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed. New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, 1964.
27. Madame Guillotine Blog. “Kissing Cousins: The wedding of Victoria and Albert.” Last updated January 31, 2011.
28. Marilyn’s Royal Blog. “Question: Queen Victoria’s Wedding Dress and Bouquet.” November 18, 2008.
29. Marriage Customs of the World. “Wedding Breakfast.” Published May 7, 2011.
30. Mehl, Scott. “British Orders and Honours.” Unofficial Royalty. Accessed November 7, 2012.
31. Morris, Charles, LL.D. The Life of Queen Victoria and The Story of Her Reign. Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1901.
32. Northampton Museums & Art Gallery. “Queen Victoria’s Wedding Shoes.” Last updated June 18, 2012.
33. Olcott, Jane. “Early Victorian Wedding Hairstyles.” eHow. Accessed November 12, 2012.
34. Parton, James and Horace Greeley, etc. Eminent Women of the Age Being Narratives of the Lives and Deeds of the Most Prominent Women of the Present Generation, 1868. Reprinted with permission on
35. Pasco, Charles Eyre. London of to-day. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1885.
36. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
37. Regency Reader. “Regency Hot Spots: Gunters.” Accessed January 10, 2013.
38. Rings with Love. “Gemstone Rings.” Accessed December 2012.
39. Roberts, Hugh. The Queen’s Diamonds. Royal Collection Publications, 2012.
40. Royal Collection, The. “Collar of the Order of the Garter.” Accessed November 7, 2012.
41. Royal Exhibitions. “Q. V’s Lesser George.” Accessed December 15, 2012.
42. Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor Blog, The. “Sunday Brooch: Prince Albert’s Sapphire.” Last updated February 26, 2012.
43. Royal Post Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s Bridesmaids + Thoughts of Her Wedding.” Last updated December 7, 2011.
44. Royal Post Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s Wedding Dress, February 10, 1840.” Last updated November 22, 2011.
45. Royal Post Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s Wedding Jewelry.” Last updated November 23, 2011.
46. Rusk, Rev. John. The Beautiful Life and Illustrious Reign of Queen Victoria. Boston: James H. Earle, 1901.
47. Sheppard, Edgar, M. A. Memorials of St. James’s Palace, Volume 1. London & New York: Longman’s, Green, and Co., 1894.
48. Silk Damask Blog. “What’s in a Label 3: Queen Victoria’s 1840 Wedding Shoes.” September 8, 2012.
49. Spitalfields. “Spitalfields History.” Accessed November 12, 2012.
50. Stalking the Belle Epoque Blog. “Gifts of Grandeur: Collar of the Order of the Garter, 1837.” June 15, 2011.
51. Stalking the Belle Epoque Blog. “Saturday Sparkle: Prince Albert’s Garter, 1840.” Last updated January 29, 2011.
52. Tudors Wiki, The. “Historical Royal Weddings.” Last updated May 16, 2011.
53. Tudors Wiki, The. “Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.” Last updated March 19, 2011.
54. Turner, Lauren. “Queen Victoria’s diaries to go online.” The Independent. May 24, 2012.
55. V&A Museum. “Corsets & Crinolines in Victorian Fashion.” Accessed November 15, 2012.
56. V&A Museum. “Victoria Dress at the V&A.” Accessed November 15, 2012.
57. Versailles and More Blog. “Queen Victoria’s wedding, or why modern brides wear white.” May 2010.
58. Victoriana Magazine. “Queen Victoria Wedding.” Accessed November 15, 2012.
59. W. A. “Marriage of Victoria the First, Sovereign of England, with Prince Albert, of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, At St. James’s Chapel Royal, Westminster, February 10, 1840.” The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Vol 35 (1840): Entire Special Edition.
60. Wedding Tiara Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s Orange Flower Blossom Wedding Headpiece.” Accessed November 15, 2012.
61. Weintraub, Stanley. Uncrowned King: The Life of Prince Albert. New York: The Free Press, 1997.
62. Willlmore, W. The Visitants’ Guide to Windsor Castle, and its Royal Cathedral, with A Short Account of Eton and the Surrounding Neighbourhood, a new edition. Windsor: W. Willmore, 1860.
63. Worcester, Joseph E., LL.D. (at the bequest of). Cabinet Annual Register. Cambridge: Washbourne, 1866.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Honeymoon: Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 29)

Queen Victoria + Prince Albert with their children
Painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1846
Copyright The Royal Collection
Photo Source: Wikipedia

It's easy to imagine the waves of exhaustion that must have washed over Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as they took that first tour of their apartments at Windsor Castle. Their ears (and perhaps their whole bodies) likely continued ringing with the lusty cheers of the throngs of people along their route from London.

After changing once again for their quiet evening in, Victoria notes in her diary that she took ill with a terrible headache that stole her appetite, but not her delight in being a wife to her “dearest dearest dear Albert.”

Albert sat by her side on a footstool, wearing his new dark blue Windsor uniform. This consisted of a tail coat of dark blue with scarlet collar and scarlet cuffs featuring two buttons. The waist also had three buttons on the front and two at the back, and each of the tails had two buttons.

The buttons were gilt and featured the garter star encircled by the garter crowned with the imperial crown. Beneath his coat, he wore a white single-breasted waistcoat with three identical gilt buttons and plain black pants. This uniform is worn only at Windsor Castle and is reserved for those in the Queen’s household and private service.

How safe she must have felt slipping her hand into the hand of this noble gentleman, who most certainly would guard her life with his very own. One wonders if he was duty bound to wear it that night, or if his choice was made to send the clear message to his Bride that she would never have to worry so long as he was near. It is said that he held her hand and caressed her all through the night.

Their honeymoon had a quiet beginning, but certainly serves as the highlight of the young Queen’s life. She wrote in her diary of that night: “I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening…his affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before!”

On their second evening, Victoria, having fully recovered from the prior day’s events, called for a dance to be held in the halls of Windsor. A houseful of what Charles Morris calls “high-spirited young people” danced the night away in gay celebration. {31, p. 99} The next night, the couple received the closest members of their families, the Duchess of Kent and Albert’s father and brother. Another ball was held, and they once again danced to their hearts’ content.

The couple enjoyed one final night away from the public’s eye, and then returned to London to establish themselves in their newly refurbished apartments at Buckingham Palace. The rest of their days together, far too short as it would turn out, were spent working side by side to serve Britain, promote the arts, lavish one another with gifts, and fill their home with Royal children.

Read Part 28

Monday, January 7, 2013

Their Reception at Windsor: Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 28)

The welcoming archway near St. Lawrence's (Chiswick Local Studies Library)
On the Road to Windsor, February 10, 1840
Photo Source: Brentford + Chickwick Local History Society

In the dimming of evening’s light, their reception at Windsor would prove to be the most dazzling along their route. The outer walls of nearly every home “glowed with the brilliancy of gas in the form of crowns, stars and every imaginable device,” including transparent representations of Prince Albert and the Queen, to express the loyalty and affection of the residents of Windsor. {17, p. 794}

The light played beautifully across the faces of the populace, who were spilling out over the roads and cheering from balconies, as the Royal suite wended its way through the crowded streets. Handkerchiefs, top hats, and flags waved from balconies decorated with laurels, mottoes, and artificial flowers. The sonorous peals of the parish church bells filled the air with merry song, as the procession approached Eton College.

A flight of rockets shot across the sky, surely competing with the marvelous display those clever boys had erected for Her Majesty’s pleasure. Opposite the campus, several thousand gas lamps lit a perfect replica of the fa├žade of the Parthenon of Athens.

Six bold columns stood awashed in the bright yellow light of the many gas lamps, which were surmounted by the Queen’s coat of arms. The device was crowned with seven flags, and beneath the Queen’s crest brilliantly colored lights spelled out the words: ‘Gratulator Etona Victorie et Alberto’*.

*Rough Translation: “Eton Congratulates Victoria and Albert”

Eton College Quadrangle
Photo Source: Wikipedia

[Experiencing Technical Difficulties - Will include more about Victoria & Albert's reception by the Eton College Students as soon as I can]

Read Part 27

Read Part 29

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Happy Crowd on the Road to Windsor: Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 27)

14th (King's) Hussar (Light Dragoons)
Photo Source: IBEW

Attended by “outriders in scarlet liveries” and “escorted by a party of the 14th light Dragoons,” the Royal coaches began their journey up Constitution Hill and on the road to Windsor. {17, p. 790-791}

To Prince Albert’s great delight, the caravan picked up a secondary escort of cheering Londoners on horseback, in gigs*, and in carriages. Along the whole route, the streets were thick with men and women waving lily white handkerchiefs, decorated scarves, and ribbons. The happy crowd was shouting and singing in what the Queen would delightfully report as a deafening sound. {15, p. 123}

As they left the Palace and passed through the marble arch, the sun shone through the thick clouds and set a warm backdrop for the wild celebration which would carry them to Windsor. {17, p. 790-791} The Queen and her dear Albert were touched by the outpouring of loyalty and devotion their very loyal subjects displayed. All along the way, great displays of affection included numerous “Vs” and “As”, elaborate diadems in evergreen boughs, illuminations of every kind possible, and always the thick and cheering crowds of Brits. {31, p. 117-118}

If the lively roads through Chiswich, Hounslow, and Colbrook were overwhelming to the proud and happy couple, their arrival in Kensington, the Queen’s hometown, must have made them nearly implode with the heady weight of adoration. High Street, Kensington was lined with “transparencies, illumination lamps, wreaths of laurel, flags, banners and loyal inscriptions.” {17, p. 791-92} Not a single house lay dark, and every single one bore a tribute to the happy couple.

As the coach passed beneath the immense arch of evergreens erected over High Street, they would hear the marching band, which had been standing in the rain playing the most popular of Britain’s songs throughout the day. The Queen once again ordered the procession to slow, and at a parade’s pace the crowds were rapturous at “seeing her so lovely, so happy, so affable, seated beside her amiable Consort, the beloved and honourable husband of her choice.” {17, p. 793}

Their journey, now nearly over, held one last and most exciting surprise in store for the Royal Pair, in Windsor.

*A gig is a two-wheeled carriage drawn by a horse.

Read Part 26

Read Part 28

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Departure to Windsor Castle: Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 26)

Examples of Pelisse* trimmed in swansdown
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Albert looked dashing in a plain dark traveling suit with a dark coat, waiting for his bride. Returning in an elegant white satin morning dress and possibly “a white satin pelisse trimmed in swansdown,” Queen Victoria met her husband at the foot of the stairs. {17, p. 790-91}

His breath must have caught in his throat at the sight of his blushing young bride in her dazzling white gown. On her head, she wore a white terry velvet bonnet trimmed with bouquets of orange blossoms accented by marabout* feathers.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stepped into, not a new wedding coach, but rather what Charles Greville refers to as “one of the old traveling coaches,” which was in “very poor and shabby style.” Mr. Greville further reports that the men guiding the horses wore the plain uniform of stable boys.

Behind the Queen’s carriage, their royal escorts rode in three separate horse-drawn coaches. Though the cortege set off at a rapid pace, after Queen Victoria saw the “immense crowd of people” lining the streets outside Buckingham Palace and heard their “most enthusiastic and hearty” reception of the couple, she gave orders to slow the procession so she could fully receive the honor her people so graciously bestowed upon her and the Prince.

It would take three hours for the Royal retinue to travel the 22 miles to Windsor Palace, and oh, what marvelous sites they would behold along the way.

*A pelisse is an ankle-length cloak with sleeves, and marabout are African storks.

Read Part 25

Read Part 27