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

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