In a continuation of our two-part collection, our Historian, Elizabeth Jane Timms, appears again on the death of Prince Albert:
The passing of the Prince Consort is, of course, synonymous with the Blue Room at Windsor Citadel, the place it happened, a room which I’ve researched for some six years. The room had been that during which Queen Victoria’s ‘Uncle King’ George IV had died on 26 June 1830. It had been generally known as the ‘King’s Bed room’ beneath George IV and appeared to have mixed the features of each a bedchamber and toilet for the King. It was hung with satin in Waterloo blue and contained a shower cupboard with curtains and chairs with matching blue upholstery. The George IV curtains within the Blue Room have been nonetheless in place in the direction of the top of the nineteenth century; we all know this as a result of the silk satin was by then so rotten that new hangings needed to be made to exchange the originals.
The Blue Room – recognized by the byname ‘The Albert Room’ after the Prince Consort’s death – was additionally that during which her different paternal uncle, William IV had died on 20 June 1837. That historic day had been fairly a unique one for Victoria in public in addition to personal phrases, for the passing of King William IV had occasioned the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Conyngham and the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley, to experience from Windsor to Kensington Palace, to wake a younger Princess Victoria from her sleep at 6:00 am, to acquaint her with the information of her uncle’s death, and ‘consequently, that I am Queen’.
There’s a unhappy irony on this, for, on the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria sat the place her aunt, Queen Adelaide had as soon as sat on the bedside of the dying William IV. This time, there was no proudly assured flourish – ‘of COURSE quite ALONE’ – as she had written later in her journal on the triumphant day of her accession in 1837 as a result of this time she was ‘ALONE’ in a unique sense – as Prince Albert’s widow.
Queen Adelaide had been current when William IV acquired the sacrament and burst into tears when the blessing was pronounced by the Archbishop of Canterbury. William IV had notably wished to outlive lengthy sufficient to see one other anniversary of Waterloo Day – 18 June – and begged his physician to do what he might in order that he may final lengthy sufficient to have fun it (A. N. Wilson, Victoria, 73). Certainly, it was applicable then, that the curtains within the Blue Room have been of ‘Waterloo blue’ satin, when the King died there, two days later.
Earlier than the ultimate days of his sickness, Prince Albert had all the time slept within the Queen’s Bedchamber at Windsor, of which watercolours survive, situated within the King’s [Victoria] Tower. The Blue Room is situated within the Clarence Tower, inside the personal flats and can also be the tower at Windsor during which, considerably, the Queen’s Highland ghillie, John Brown, died in 1883. The Queen ordered that his room be preserved and for flowers to be positioned on his pillow. Basement plans and dimensions for the Clarence Tower and Victoria Tower are maintained within the Nationwide Archives at Kew, bearing the stamp of the Workplace of Woods. A photograph of the East Entrance of Windsor Fort within the Royal Assortment by Roger Fenton, made in 1860 exhibits the Queen’s Flats, with the Queen’s Tower to the left, then to its proper, the Clarence Tower, Chester Tower and the Prince of Wales Tower.
Maybe there was a last fatalism about Prince Albert’s want to be moved to the Blue Room, by which two earlier British kings had died. He had stated within the first throes of sickness: ‘[He kept saying] … he should not recover! which we all told him was too foolish & [he] must never speak of it…’ (cit., Christopher Hibbert, Victoria: A Private Historical past, 277). He had advised Queen Victoria: ‘I do not cling to life. You do; but I set no store by it… I am sure if I had a severe illness I should give up at once. I should not struggle for life. I have no tenacity of life.’ (cit., Ibid, 277).
We will reconstruct the Blue Room at Windsor Citadel, because of the pictures made by the photographers Hills & Saunders which have been made of it in addition to the watercolours, to report its look, notably by the artist William Corden the Youthful. Queen Victoria introduced a paint field to William Corden in 1862; it’s preserved by the artist’s descendants (HRH The Duchess of York with Benita Stoney, Travels with Queen Victoria, 9). The Corden watercolours – one courting from 1864, the second from 1868 – present the room hung in blue, with the 2 beds on the centre; a big mirror, displaying the room hung appropriately with units of blue hangings and two beds separated by an enormous mirror, reverse a stone hearth to the center floor proper and two paired candelabras. A delicate pencil research by Sir Joseph Noel, made a wonderful pencil research confirmed the Blue Room by moonlight, with the 2 beds.
This room of such profound emotional significance to Queen Victoria was meant to be a dwelling monument, simply as Frogmore Mausoleum when accomplished, can be referred to by the Queen as a ‘shrine’. In contrast to the German trend, there was to be no ‘Sterbe-zimmer’ [Death Chamber] – reminiscent of her eldest daughter, the Crown Princess of Prussia, would encounter in Berlin, the place the room by which King Frederick William IV had died, was preserved untouched. It was thought that the Blue Room was stored precisely because it was on the time of Prince Albert’s death, however in some ways, this can be a historic false impression. While a lot was stored because it was, the room’s look did actually change dramatically, to adapt the room into the dwelling monument that Queen Victoria required it to be. An excellent deal of inventive exercise passed off to provide the room a respectful and extremely spiritual patina. A discover had been fastened to the door of the Blue Room to tell everybody who handed by, that all the things inside was because it had been on the time of the Prince’s death (Hibbert, 287). Certainly, different rooms at Windsor Fort in addition to these in different royal residences had comparable notices affixed to their doorways, however this was one other untruth.
What modified? A bust of Prince Albert was positioned on a excessive plinth between the 2 beds, commissioned by Queen Victoria from the sculptor William Theed inside a fortnight after the Prince Consort’s death; it was accomplished on the finish of January 1862 and based mostly on a death masks which Theed made of the Prince. The bust remained within the Blue Room till Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. The ceiling was painted as early as 1862 with Raphaelesque designs – Raphael having been thought-about by Prince Albert as the best of all artists – and the ceiling additionally was painted with gold stars by Professor Ludwig Gruner – Prince Albert’s inventive adviser who was additionally concerned within the inside design of the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore – importantly, the ceiling of the mausoleum of Queen Victoria’s mom, the Duchess of Kent, was additionally painted with gold stars, so clearly this was sacred imagery for the Queen and factors to a Victorian ideally suited of an imagined, royal firmament. A memorial portrait of the Prince dressed as a Christian knight by Edward Henry Corbould was inserted into the primary door of the Blue Room on the want of Queen Victoria.
One of probably the most poignant objects that is still from this time is a bracelet within the Royal Assortment, inserted with a watercolour of the Duchess of Kent. It was to have been a Christmas current for 1861 for Queen Victoria from Prince Albert – given to her within the yr of her mom’s death. Tragically, as Prince Albert died exactly ten days earlier than the normal giving of presents – recognized in German because the ‘Bescherung’ – it was Queen Victoria’s second daughter, Princess Alice, who gave it to her mom as an alternative, on New Yr’s Day, 1862, based on the inscription engraved upon the bracelet: ‘Last gift / from my / beloved & adored Albert / ordered by him / for Xmas 1861 / Given me by Alice / Jan. 1st. 1862’. It was later positioned within the Blue Room, the place Albert had died. Movingly, a Dr Brown had been in attendance on Prince Albert in his final sickness; the identical Brown who had attended the Duchess of Kent on the finish (Wilson, 253).
A sculpture at Osborne – ‘Venus and Cupid’ by Edward Muller was meant to be a birthday current from Queen Victoria to Prince Albert for 1862; it stays in a single of the bottom flooring corridors.
Prince Albert’s death additionally gave life to a whole phantom family ritual, a factor nevertheless not unknown among the many wealthy, who might afford such empty rites (Stanley Weintraub, Albert: Uncrowned King, 438). The water within the Prince’s wash jug was changed day by day and crammed with scorching water; the linen and towels have been modified (Hibbert, 286). Recent flowers have been positioned on the pillows and wreaths later laid on the mattress within the form of a cross. Guests have been required to signal their names within the Prince’s customer ebook, which Benjamin Disraeli described poignantly, as ‘calling on a dead man’. (cit, Ibid, 287). The pen that belonged to the Prince Consort was left prepared on his writing desk; his blotter was left open. (Ibid, 287).
All this can be a unusual recreation of what Queen Victoria wrote on visiting the rooms of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Albert’s father, in Coburg: ‘Poor dear Papa’s bed room together with his mattress and every little thing left in it simply because it was – and a sitting room which is simply as poor pricey Papa used to have it; on his writing desk are the pens with ink in them, simply as he left them! And they also should stay, they’re fairly sacred to us.’ (Quoted in HRH The Duchess of York with Benita Stoney, 111). And of course, the Queen talked about Prince Albert, to maintain him alive (Ibid, 167).
The Prince’s garments have been laid out recent and brushed to make use of – a tragic recreation of the younger Queen Victoria who had adored watching her new husband shave throughout their honeymoon at Windsor Fort and who had delighted in having him assist her on together with her stockings. The Prince’s drugs glass stayed on the desk beside his mattress for over forty years. The Walter Scott novel which the Prince had been studying final was positioned within the Royal Library at Windsor Citadel with an inscription by the Queen marking the place he had reached. This was exhibited till current years, at Kensington Palace. This was in all probability the identical Walter Scott novel Peveril of the Peak, which Queen Victoria had intermittently learn aloud to Prince Albert, while he sat on his couch.
The Prince Consort’s watches have been stored working; his handkerchief was nonetheless on the couch. His dressing robe was laid out each night.
The bust of the Prince – virtually definitely that by William Theed – was positioned between the beds, and the Prince’s portrait hung above these, on which was put wreaths of evergreen. Queen Victoria ordered a memorial image of the Prince Consort dressed as a medieval Christian knight by Edward Henry Corbould to be inserted into the primary door of the Blue Room. We’d keep in mind the costume balls at Buckingham Palace such because the bal costume of 12 Might 1842, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert appear to have been wearing costumes impressed by the tomb effigies of Edward III and Queen Philippa of Hainault. After Albert’s death, Queen Victoria ordered that his bust at Osborne be adorned with holly and ivy; the Sevres vases have been crammed with holly, yew and ferns (HRH The Duchess of York with Benita Stoney, Victoria & Albert, 176).
The Queen was photographed gazing at a bust of Prince Albert, collectively together with her daughter, Princess Alice. The Princesses have been additionally snapped by William Bainbridge in March 1862, grouped round a bust of their lifeless father. This was a customized that was to be repeated, for the bust of the Prince would thereafter be positioned on the centre of group pictures made of the Royal Household as if to face in for the Prince’s absence. The Queen had commissioned a portray from the Scottish artist Joseph Noel Paton In Memoriam. While it remained incomplete, the composition was developed sufficient to point out us what the Queen had in thoughts – the outcome was meant to point out the Queen, and 6 of the royal youngsters sat across the bust of Prince Albert by William Theed.
Queen Victoria’s stationery was given thick black edges. She wore mourning for the remaining of her life, though the deepest of this mourning was reserved for the 1860s; by the 1890s, it had barely relaxed to incorporate lace trimmings. One of Queen Victoria’s deepest black crepe clothes has survived within the Royal Assortment. Her accounts present that she spent a lot much less on gown right now, understandably for her widowhood (Kay Staniland, In Royal Style, 154). She turned her again on color and jewelry, for Prince Albert had taken the best curiosity in her gown. The stance she had adopted for her costume was a agency one, and she or he by no means relinquished it. The Queen wrote merely: ‘My poor sad face and garb must tell its tale’ (cit., Ibid, 157).
Princess Alice frequently wrote to her mom for the anniversary of Prince Albert’s death; an engraving of the Prince may be seen within the sitting room of Princess Alix of Hesse – Alice’s surviving youngest daughter – within the Neues Palais, in Darmstadt. When Princess Alice died in 1878, she died tragically on the precise anniversary of Prince Albert’s death in 1878, murmuring: ‘From Friday to Saturday – four weeks – May [her youngest daughter, Princess Marie of Hesse, who had recently died of diphtheria] – dear Papa…’ (Alice, Biographical Sketch and Letters, 376). Queen Victoria wrote to a beloved granddaughter, Alice’s eldest daughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse the identical day underlining the 14th twice for emphasis: ‘Dearest beloved Mama is gone to join dear Grandpapa & your other dear Grandpapa…’ (cit., Richard Hough, Recommendation to a Granddaughter, 9).
Queen Victoria took to sleeping with a forged of Prince Albert’s hand near her bedside. Maybe that is the one within the Royal Assortment which is engraved on the cut-off wrist, Prince Albert 14 December 1861, and is a life-size forged of his hand, displaying the 2 rings he was sporting on the time of his death, attributed to the sculptor Mary Thornycroft.
Nor was this the one point out of jewelry. The Queen instructed that after her death, sure private gadgets of jewelry must be positioned within the Blue Room of personal significance and never handed on to members of the Royal Household. These included a number of of the Queen’s rings, a locket containing the Prince’s hair when a child, a necklace with a photograph of the Prince beneath glass with the inscription: ‘Die reine Seele schwingt sich auf zu Gott” [the pure soul flies up above to the Lord]; there were also other personal presents of great value, such as a bracelet given to the Queen by Prince Albert in 1840, three days after the birth of the Princess Royal, later Crown Princess of Prussia, to which stones were added on the births of subsequent children (Elizabeth Jane Timms, The Blue Room at Windsor Castle, European Royal History Journal, Vol XVI). On the day of Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria started a letter to the Crown Princess: ‘My darling Angel’s baby – Our firstborn. God’s can be carried out’. (cit., Wilson, 256).
Even the smallest merchandise of private jewelry could possibly be made right into a memorial. A memorial ring of gold and black was made to include a micro-photograph of Prince Albert in 1861, attributed to J. J. E. Mayall (HRH The Duchess of York with Benita Stoney, Victoria & Albert: A Household Life at Osborne Home, 164). Queen Victoria was painted in full-face in mourning in a color lithograph, now within the British Museum. It exhibits the Queen fingering a locket at her throat, in all probability containing Prince Albert’s hair, and there’s particular emphasis on her wedding ceremony ring and no different jewelry, while she holds a black fan (Charlotte Gere, Victoria & Albert, Love and Artwork: Queen Victoria’s Private Jewelry, 14).
A hatchment – a funeral escutcheon – was made to hold at Osborne (Ibid, 165). It was taken down for the Prince and Princess of Wales, who honeymooned at Osborne in 1863, however then afterwards changed. It left a everlasting mark on the wall, seen some twenty years later (Ibid, 175).
The Queen even held one of the Prince’s nightshirts (Hibbert, 287). Maybe to duplicate the Prince’s physique, one other potential recreation of what she had written when waking up with Prince Albert for the primary time on their honeymoon at Windsor: ‘He does look so beautiful in his shirt only, with his beautiful throat seen.’ (cit., Ibid, 123). The Queen kissed Prince Albert’s garments the primary morning of her widowhood, having gone in to look upon her lifeless husband’s options and been warned by the docs to not kiss his physique. A mournful legend arose that she even wrapped her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, in Prince Albert’s nightclothes, however this can’t be substantiated, on account of lack of proof. A autopsy photograph of the Prince on his deathbed was commissioned by Queen Victoria two days after the Prince’s death from the photographer William Bainbridge; it exhibits the Prince in left profile with a bandage supporting his decrease jaw. The photograph was proven publicly for the primary time on a BBC documentary, Victoria & Albert, in 1996.
The Blue Room – so faithfully preserved by Queen Victoria as a dwelling shrine in reminiscence of Prince Albert – was stripped by Edward VII as half of his programme to modernise and de-clutter the personal flats within the royal residences, notably at Windsor. The room is now The Duke of Edinburgh’s Writing Room. The current writer’s unique analysis has made it attainable to determine that at the very least two gadgets of furnishings from the Blue Room might be recognized as such in the present day. One of these is a secretaire, at present displayed within the Victoria Closet at Frogmore Home (Elizabeth Jane Timms, Vol XVI).
The final direct point out I’ve been capable of finding of the Blue Room within the Queen’s journal was in 1898 which the Queen spent at Windsor. Queen Victoria noticed the return of the anniversary (the ‘terrible 14th’) of Prince Albert’s death for the final time on 14 December 1900. Maybe appropriately, she spent it at Windsor Citadel. She left Windsor to spend Christmas at Osborne, 4 days later. When the Queen’s physique returned to Windsor, it was laid to relaxation within the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, subsequent to the husband she had misplaced forty years therefore.
When Queen Victoria died in 1901 at Osborne Home, her room was, sealed off in respect for her reminiscence, though a plaque was later fastened above her mattress. The blinds have been pulled down, and the room turned successfully, one other shrine for the Royal Household, a reality emphasised by the truth that giant iron gates have been inserted, to seal off the Queen’s rooms. As such, they remained for some fifty years. Mockingly, a posthumous portrait of Prince Albert was nonetheless on the Queen’s headboard, as was the case in all her residences, along with a pocket for the Prince Consort’s watch (Michael Turner, Osborne Home, 18).
The phrases above the doorway to the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore converse for the Queen’s remaining phrases to Prince Albert: ‘Vale desideratissime! His demum Conquiescam tecum, tecum in Christo consurgeam’. [Farewell greatest beloved! Right here finally I shall relaxation with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise once more’.