Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 29): On the Campus at Eton

Eton College Quadrangle
Photo Source: Wikipedia
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

On the campus at Eton, beneath the clock tower, the schoolboys had erected another display featuring a large crown encircled by laurel branches. On either side of the crown the initials ‘V.R.’* glowed in ethereal gaslight, and beneath it a bright star flanked on either side by heraldic lozenges. Seven rows of glowing lamps surrounded the archway, while double festoons of laurel, symbolizing triumph, graced the entire length of the building on each side of the tower.

As if this was not enough, the Royal carriages soon passed beneath a huge triumphal arch, reportedly erected by the Reverend Mr. Cooksley {W. A., p. 121}. Composed of laurel branches and illumined by a variety of colored lamps, the arch featured a centerpiece of festoons with an illumined star hanging from either side.

As they attempted to take it all in, the Etonian boys descended with shouts of great joy and escorted the Royal company all the way to the castle, no easy feat to be sure.

As the procession crested Castle Hill, the crowds pressed in even more, and the carriages slowed to a crawl. As they had done all day, the Queen and Prince Albert bowed graciously, fully receiving all the adulation extended to them by their happy hosts at Windsor.

Eva Hope notes that Queen Victoria curtsied and bowed, “taking no pains to conceal herself”, and Prince Albert “seemed in the highest spirits at the cordiality with which he was greeted” {Anecdotes, p.794-95}. On the wings of such hearty praise, the Royal couple passed through the gates of Windsor Castle just before 7 o’clock.

Prince Albert stepped out of the carriage and offered his hand to his beautiful young bride. Lightly jumping to the ground, Victoria placed her arm in his and they entered the Palace through the Grand Entrance, leaving behind the lusty cheers of the Etonians, eager to begin their long-awaited honeymoon.

*Victoria Regnant, which means Victoria reigns as Queen in her own right

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