Queen Victoria’s 200th Anniversary: Our Items on the Queen and Empress

To mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth on 24 May, we look at some of the Special Collections that we hold relating to the monarch known as the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India.

Princess Victoria and her favourite dog [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A, Rare Books Quarto DA 554 1897]

Princess Victoria and her favourite dog, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) Rare Books Quarto DA 554

The most notable material is a cache of several hundred letters between Queen Victoria and Lord Palmerston, 1837-65, which is part of the Broadlands Archive. This provides an insight into the duties of being queen. Early letters seek Palmerston’s advice on matters such as diplomatic protocol, but from the 1840s it focuses more fully with foreign affairs, especially with regard to Europe. The letters discuss matters such as unrest in France, developments in Spain and Italy and diplomatic appointments.

Letter from Queen Victoria to third Viscount Palmerston, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 26 Feb 1848 [MS 62 PP/RC/F/350]

Letter from Queen Victoria to third Viscount Palmerston, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 26 Feb 1848 [MS 62 PP/RC/F/350]

Speeches of Queen Victoria can also be found amongst this correspondence, such as one written in the hand of Lord Melbourne on the Treaty of London and relations between Britain and France.

Other informative items in the Palmerston Papers include a letter from Sir G.C. Lewis to Lord Palmerston, regarding allocation of an allowance to the Princess Royal, dating 25 May 1857, and a letter discussing arrangements for security for the Queen’s home in the Isle of Wight, Osborne House. In Lord Palmerston’s miscellaneous and patronage correspondence, we are applications for appointments to the Queen, such as to be performer to her at Brighton, or to be her perfumer or hairdresser.

Application to Lord Palmerston for appointment of perfumer or hairdresser to Queen Victoria, 2 September 1837 [MS PP/MPC/574]

Application to Lord Palmerston for appointment of perfumer or hairdresser to Queen Victoria, 2 September 1837 [MS 62 PP/MPC/574]

The First Duke of Wellington Papers include bundles of papers from the Duchess of Kent discussing Queen Victoria’s education, correspondence discussing the preparations for the Queen’s confinement with her second child, her speeches and addresses, and her visits to European countries such as France and Belgium.

The Special Collections contains material on various events relating to Victoria’s reign from her accession to a golden jubilee visit in 1887.

Title page of The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman [Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

Title page of The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman [Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

In Lord Palmerston‘s papers as Foreign Secretary, for instance, are copies of letters from foreign diplomats in London to their respective courts announcing the occasion of Victoria’s accession.

Letter from foreign diplomat Chevalier de Moiran to his respective court, Counte de la Marguérite, announcing Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837 [MS 62 BR FO/I/1]

Letter from foreign diplomat Chevalier de Moiran to his respective court, Counte de la Marguérite, announcing Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837 [MS 62 BR FO/I/1]

Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A., who was Librarian to the Queen, contains illustrations of the Queen’s First Council, and provides interesting information about her accession, such as quotes from letters of congratulations from correspondents such as Queen Victoria’s cousin, and future husband, Prince Albert:

“My dearest cousin – I must write you a few lines to present you my sincerest felicitations on that great change which has taken place in your life. Now you are the Queen of the mightiest land of Europe, in your hand lies the happiness of millions.” [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A., p.48]

The Queen’s First Council [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A, , Rare Books Quarto DA 554 1897]

The Queen’s First Council, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes

While The Progresses of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman (1844) provides illustrations and descriptions of the visits by the Queen and her husband made in the 1840s.

Queen Victoria passing through Ostend, Belgium [The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

Queen Victoria passing through Ostend, Belgium [The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

For her coronation, there is  correspondence between Lord Palmerston relative to the coronation and we hold rare books in our printed collections which describe the event. In the 1838 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine, the crown is given particular attention:

“The new State Crown, made for her Majesty by Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, is exceedingly costly and elegant. The old crown, made for George IV. weighed upwards of seven pounds, and was much too large for the head of her present Majesty. The new crown weights little more than three pounds. It is composed of hoops of silver, enclosing a cap of deep purple, or rather blue velvet; the hoops are completely covered with precious stones, surmounted with a ball, covered with small diamonds, and having a Maltese cross of brilliants on the top of it.” [The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1838, p.200]

We also hold the publication released by Queen Victoria’s printers that details the form and order of the coronation. The volume goes into great detail, with chapters on the ‘investing with the Royal Robe’ and the ‘putting on of the Crown’.

The form and order of the service that is to be performed, and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Thursday, the 28th of June, 1838, p.B [Rare Books DA 112]

The form and order of the service that is to be performed, and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Thursday, the 28th of June, 1838, p.B Rare Books DA 112

Material relating to Queen Victoria can also be found in the Wellington Pamphlets, such as “a letter to the people of Great Britain” relating to the Queen’s marriage to Prince Albert. The letter concludes with urging the reader to welcome Prince Albert, and to treat him “with that consideration… the Queen’s Consort is entitled to expect from her people.” [The marriage of the Queen to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg: considered, in a letter to the people of Great Britain by Fair play (1840) Rare Books Well. Pamph. 1201/7, p.23.]

We also hold items referring to Queen Victoria’s visit to Southampton and celebrations that took place in the city to mark the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887. Here is a quote describing the Queen’s visit to Southampton:

“The Queen and Prince Albert, in a carriage-and-four, and escorted by a detachment of the 7th Hussars, proceeded to the town. An immense assemblage had congregated outside the railway station, and when her Majesty and the Prince issued from it, they were received with a loud burst of cheers from the persons assembled. Throughout the whole line of route the streets were decked with flags and banners, and upon entering High Street from Above-Bar the sight was very splendid.” [The Progresses of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, p. 3]

Form of special service held in St. Mary's church, Southampton, in commemoration of the Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria: June 19th 1887 by St Mary’s Church (Southampton) [Cope cabinet SOU 22]

Form of special service held in St. Mary’s church, Southampton, in commemoration of the Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria: June 19th 1887 by St Mary’s Church (Southampton) [Cope cabinet SOU 22]

As we now celebrate another anniversary – this time the bicentenary since the birth of Queen Victoria – there are many events being planned, including at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. We wish you a very happy birthday Queen Victoria!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s