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The Story of the Effigies of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – Royal Central

The Story of the Effigies of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – Royal Central

The effigy of Queen Victoria has its personal story. It rests subsequent to that of the Prince Consort in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, one of the most exceptional buildings that was ever to be inbuilt Victorian Britain, constructed as a burial place for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. The recumbent effigy of the Queen was made at the similar time as that of Prince Albert, though Queen Victoria was to survive the Prince Consort by some forty years. Prince Albert died in the Blue Room at Windsor Fort on 14 December 1861. That is what makes the effigy so instantly putting to the traditionally curious; for the Queen’s picture was sculpted in the likeness of a younger lady, as she wished to stay on this most private of monuments. It exhibits her unmistakably as each Queen and royal spouse, not as a royal widow, presumably as a result of for the Queen in demise, there was no extra widowhood. 

By the time of the Queen’s demise in 1901, the fact of the octogenarian Queen’s picture was, of course, a totally totally different one to that which Marochetti had initially sculpted. While the Queen has come to characterize the final royal exemplar in phrases of mourning customized and gown to the latter-day creativeness, the diminutive, aged Victoria – who historical past usually agrees as having been slightly below 5 ft tall in 1837 – was by then a determine in barely relaxed black, together with her lace veil, widow’s cap or trimmed bonnet and shawls. Certainly, her 1890s clothes point out she was round 4ft 7inches right now (Kay Staniland, In Royal Style, 171). This distinction in peak – the loss of about 4 inches indicated by means of her surviving costumes – was, of course, half of the Queen’s pure ageing course of, so the measurement of the effigy ought to be simply lower than 5 ft, as the monument depicts a younger Queen Victoria, as simply said. This element is sensitively handled on the granite tomb chest upon which the effigies of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert relaxation; Queen Victoria’s ft, on this case, are misplaced inside the sculpted folds of the effigy’s gown, and so her shortness is hidden. We can’t see her footwear – of which a number of examples survive, in the Royal Ceremonial Gown Assortment.

The Queen is depicted in a gown which might be greatest as a fantastic robe, although not essentially a ceremonial one, while an extended cloak envelops her from the diadem downwards. The Queen’s arms are half draped inside it, maybe reminiscent of her enduring behavior of endlessly rearranging her capes of numerous thicknesses, when out driving in her carriage (David Duff, Hessian Tapestry, 271), a hanging behavior for one who so famously appreciated chilly rooms.

The effigies of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria (element) Truthful use, Public area by way of Victorian Net (

It’s tempting to assume that the effigy of Queen Victoria might have taken earlier inspiration from shared household concepts for funerary sculpture, however there’s actually, no actual proof for this. We all know that Queen Victoria visited the Coburg Mausoleum in 1860, which contained the mortal stays of Prince Albert’s father, Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who had died in 1844. The Queen didn’t depart an outline of an effigy for this go to. Equally, a watercolour in the Royal Assortment by Theodor Johann Lorenz Rothbath made in 1860 of the inside of the Mausoleum at Coburg, doesn’t depict the Duke’s tomb or present any recumbent monument.

Queen Victoria’s mom, the Duchess of Kent, was buried in her mausoleum in the grounds at Frogmore; its higher chamber contained a full-length standing statue of the Duchess by William Theed, together with her sarcophagus in the decrease chamber beneath. Theed sculpted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Anglo-Saxon gown, in a sculpture group in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum’s Chapel of the Nativity; each the Queen and Prince are closely robed. This group was additionally carved by Theed in 1867.

Earlier examples of royal burial sculpture would have been recognized to the Queen at Westminster Abbey, and she visited the Royal Vault in St George’s Chapel, the place the tomb of her father, the Duke of Kent was situated. This didn’t home a funerary effigy of the Duke, and as numerous wooden engravings and aquatints document, the Royal Vault containing the royal coffins exhibits them merely stacked on cabinets. The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore does include a monument to Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent, by the sculptor Boehm, previously at St George’s Chapel and positioned there by the Queen in 1874 (Royal Assortment Enterprises, Frogmore Home and the Royal Mausoleum, 47; Elizabeth Jane Timms, Woolbrook Cottage, Royalty Digest Quarterly 2013/1). The coffin of the Prince Consort was interred in the entrance to the Royal Vault at St George’s Chapel on 23 December 1861, the place it remained till the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore was accomplished. The Prince’s coffin was lastly transferred to the Mausoleum on 18 December 1862, slightly over a yr after his demise at Windsor Fort.

Importantly, in the Albert Memorial Chapel because it turned recognized at St George’s Chapel, which Queen Victoria named after the Prince Consort, is a recumbent memorial of white marble to her beloved. Extra intimate in some methods than his precise tomb effigy, it incorporates private figures of tribute to the lifeless Prince, reminiscent of his favorite greyhound Eos, wanting up at his ft, and a weeping, topped determine of a feminine bent over a ebook on a lectern, virtually definitely symbolic of the widowed Queen Victoria. At his ft are two angels and the effigy is surrounded by 4 angels of bronze. Winged angels prime the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park. Equally, round the Prince’s precise tomb chest, are 4 bronze angels, made by the Paris agency Barbedienne and designed by Baron Carlo Marochetti, who sculpted the precise effigies (Ibid, 43). In the Mausoleum itself, the stained glass home windows of the Entrance Chapel included angels enjoying musical devices after Giovanni da Fiesole (Ibid, 45).

This marble memorial and the Prince’s tomb effigy have been, of course, sacred variations of the cult of reminiscence quick established by Queen Victoria on the Prince Consort’s dying, which brought about statues to spring up in abundance throughout Britain, in addition to at Balmoral and by extension, even so far as Coburg, the place a statue was unveiled by the widowed Queen in 1865: ‘The signal was given, and in one second the drapery fell away from the statue, which stood there, in all its beauty, so sad and grand…I was… inexpressibly sad and lonely.’ (Quoted in HRH The Duchess of York and Benita Stoney, Travels with Queen Victoria, 21).

The emotion that should have attended this occasion for the Queen, 4 years after Prince Albert’s demise, in Coburg, the land of his birthplace, helps us guess at the emotional significance of Prince Albert’s precise resting place, an area she known as a ‘shrine’: on the eve of the wedding ceremony of the Prince of Wales in 1863, Queen Victoria had written: ‘I opened the shrine and took them [the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark] in… I said, ‘He gives you his blessing’. (cit., Christopher Hibbert, Queen Victoria, 303).

This was true even for the effigy, as I found in a unfavorable in the Royal Photograph Assortment, which exhibits Prince Albert’s effigy alone: ‘Construction of the Mausoleum at Frogmore. Prince Albert’s effigy. December 14 1863’. That is to be present in the album Progress of the Mausoleum, November 1863 to March 1866 and exhibits the effigy coated with wreaths on the second anniversary of Prince Albert’s demise, in 1863; a sort of gate encloses it.

The effigies of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Truthful use, Public area by way of Victorian Net (

The design of the tomb effigy is just not uncommon in the selection of recumbent statues, though they don’t present the Queen and Prince Consort with palms clasped in prayer after the medieval style, as, do the tomb effigies of King George V and Queen Mary, at St George’s Chapel. Definitely there’s not the ardour implied (which nevertheless, definitely existed) between the royal couple, as one sees in the effigies of the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresia and her consort, Francis Stephen, in the Kaisergruft [Imperial Vault] in Vienna, which exhibits them dealing with each other upon a marital mattress, by the nice Austrian sculptor, Balthasar Ferdinand Moll. Nor are the palms of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert linked, as that they had been in a number of artworks. 

The impression right here is of royal sleep, a poignant selection maybe, if we contemplate that Prince Albert died at close by Windsor Citadel and that he shared the Queen’s Bedchamber at Windsor till he was moved to the Blue Room the place he spent the last days of his sickness. Queen Victoria had been warned to not kiss the Prince’s physique after dying, though it was photographed. On the first morning after her widowhood, the Queen had gone to the Blue Room to gaze upon her lifeless husband’s options (Hibbert, 286). Considerably, a bust of Prince Albert was positioned between the two beds in the Blue Room through which Albert died at Windsor, by Marochetti, lately proven in the Summer time Exhibition at Buckingham Palace, thought by the current writer to be most likely the similar bust. The sacred overtones are big right here, as Queen Victoria recurrently prayed in the Blue Room, simply as she visited the Royal Mausoleum, the two maybe being an extension of each other in the Queen’s thoughts, one being the room during which the Prince died, the second the place his physique truly lay.

The effigies of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are depicted as if in everlasting slumber, one thing added to by the undeniable fact that the heads and shoulders relaxation on draped pillows. The effigy of Queen Victoria is half-turned in the direction of that of Prince Albert, an intimate allusion maybe to the marriage mattress and not the deathbed. Though there’s an aesthetic, Romantic nineteenth-century hyperlink between the two, the place dying is a kind of climax, with Wagner’s Liebestod as the supreme operatic expression of this concept (A. N. Wilson, Victoria, 261).

The requirements of the Queen and Prince Consort cling above them in the central octagon, along with their crests, helms and swords, which previously hung of their stalls at St George’s Chapel. The wealthy hues of Neo-Renaissance ornament mirror Prince Albert’s love of the artist Raphael, whom he thought-about to rank as the biggest artist of all time. These bas-reliefs have been conceived by Consoni, after work by Raphael. The Prince lies on an ermine mantle (Jonathan Marsden, ed. Victoria & Albert: Artwork & Love, 441). Queen Victoria seems to carry the coronation sceptre; her diadem I’ve judged bears resemblance to George IV’s circlet.

The dome that hovers above them – at an apex of some seventy ft – is adorned with angels bearing wreaths of immortelles and crowns, while the panels at the base of the dome include pairs of angels, holding wreaths of immortelles over the couple’s shared monogram (Ibid, 44). The internal dome contained a background of clouds and gold stars on darkish blue, considerably finished by the Prince’s inventive adviser, Ludwig Gruner, who added the stars in the ceiling of the Blue Room at Windsor Citadel. The higher chamber of the Duchess of Kent’s Mausoleum at Frogmore additionally contained a background of gold stars on a deep blue vault, so this was clearly a recurring theme which happy the Queen and maybe alluded to the exalted sense of a heavenly firmament (Elizabeth Jane Timms, The Mausoleum of Queen Victoria’s Mom, the Duchess of Kent, in Royalty Digest Quarterly, 2016/four).

The tomb chest is hewn from a block of gray Aberdeen granite from the quarries at Cairngall, a touching tribute in demise, to the enduring love of the Queen and Prince Albert for Balmoral and their beloved Scottish Highlands. The chest is supported by a base of black Belgian marble, a present from Queen Victoria’s uncle, Leopold I, King of the Belgians, and introduced by his son, King Leopold II, after the former’s demise in 1865.

It’s poignant to think about that the room during which Queen Victoria died on a small sofa mattress, on 22 January 1901 at Osborne, contained – as did all of the bedrooms in her residences – a posthumous portrait of the recumbent Prince Consort subsequent to the headboard of her precise mattress, along with a pocket for Prince Albert’s watch (Michael Turner, Osborne Home, 18).

Nevertheless, the Queen wished to be depicted younger in her funerary sculpture. I might theorise that that is partly additionally as a result of she might have imagined that she would die shortly after the Prince, no less than her sentiments expressed at the time recommend that. In a letter to her daughter, the Crown Princess of Prussia, Queen Victoria wrote in the early rawness of her widowhood: ‘Oh! I who prayed daily that we might die together & I never survive Him!’, including that her dying can be the ‘greatest blessing’. (cit, Hibbert, 289). The concept right here certainly, was that dying would imply a reunion with the Prince Consort. It’s maybe telling that when she did die in 1901, she stipulated that she needed a white funeral as an alternative of a black one, in accordance with Lord Tennyson’s choice for white funerals, the Queen having taken Tennyson to go to the Royal Mausoleum, the place they mentioned the brilliant daylight streaming into the Mausoleum home windows: ‘[he] went on to say that he wished funerals cd be in white.’ (cit., Hibbert, 497).

What can also be clear, is that the Queen wished to be sculpted younger to lie alongside her husband, in order that though Queen Victoria died at the age of eighty-one, there’s nothing of previous age about this effigy, Prince Albert having died forty years earlier, at the early age of forty-two. Certainly, the Latin inscription above the entrance of the Royal Mausoleum confirms this sense of reunion: ‘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’. This was not the depiction of age, however youth, magnificence, love and marriage.

Queen Victoria had commissioned a bronze maquette of Prince Albert’s marble tomb effigy in 1862. Marochetti had made a bust of the Prince in 1849, however the likeness for the effigy is predicated on Prince Albert’s demise masks, achieved by William Theed. The Prince Consort is depicted wearing his Garter robes and insignia, together with his palms clasped upon his chest. The Queen’s third daughter, Princess Helena gave the Queen a photograph of her father’s effigy between 1862 and 1863; it survives in the Royal Assortment. Different pictures of the Prince’s effigy in the Royal Photograph Assortment point out that the effigy of the Prince was an object of excessive private significance to the Queen – as could be fairly anticipated. A label on a brass pill prompt that one of these pictures of his effigies was ‘always placed on the Queen’s writing desk’. The latter is contained inside an envelope labelled ‘One Set of Rooms (Reduced)’. One other of these pictures has been annotated ‘The beloved monument’, presumably by the Queen herself.

However the Queen’s brief funeral at St George’s Chapel on 1 February 1901, was not the finish of the story. The effigy which had been sculpted of her by Marochetti at the similar time as that of the Prince, couldn’t be discovered on her dying, though it was lengthy since accomplished. Prince Albert’s effigy seems to point out him sporting army gown beneath; as befitted a soldier’s daughter, Queen Victoria requested a army funeral and her coffin was duly borne on a gun carriage.

Maybe unsurprisingly, the Royal Assortment contained no photograph of the Queen’s effigy; though this, in flip, might have offered attainable consolation to the Queen, who had been left in the land of the dwelling, for nevertheless lengthy. She appears to have been much less fascinated about her monument, a minimum of, that’s my impression on studying the few references the Queen made in her journals on the topic. She appears much more concerned with the incontrovertible fact that the sculptures will ultimately lie collectively, as a pair, and till that point, Prince Albert’s effigy would stay ‘the beloved monument’. The effigies have been made by Marochetti at the similar time and have been the sculptor’s final works, which he managed to finish. They have been nonetheless in Marochetti’s studio after his demise.

Queen Victoria’s journals include solely scant references to her effigy; that is half of the entire cult of the Prince’s reminiscence and the erection of numerous memorials, plaques, stones and statues, with which she was much more involved. As the physique of the Prince Consort was moved to the Mausoleum in December 1862, the effigy was solely positioned over the tomb chest a lot later, on the chest’s completion, in 1868. For this reason the Queen describes their shared monument and particular person statues in a journal entry for instance for four March 1863 – six days earlier than the Prince of Wales’ wedding ceremony to Princess Alexandra of Denmark – the place she visits Marochetti however is dismayed that the recumbent statues don’t appear to lie shut sufficient collectively.

Initially, this confused me, as a result of I couldn’t perceive the way it was attainable for the destructive in the Royal Photograph Assortment of the Prince’s effigy to be coated in wreaths, on the second anniversary of his demise, in 1863. If this was in the album charting the Frogmore Mausoleum’s development and the tomb was nonetheless solely a sarcophagus at Frogmore at this date, this may recommend that the effigy of the Prince was coated in wreaths while it remained in Marochetti’s studio; Marochetti died on 29 December 1867.

Following Queen Victoria’s demise, Lord Esher was charged with establishing what had occurred to her white stone effigy, the Queen having mentioned it with him the yr earlier than. Lord Esher’s enquiries have been profitable. Lastly, an previous workman remembered that the effigy had been bricked up at Windsor, presumably after it was taken out of Marochetti’s studio. Lord Esher recorded what occurred subsequent: ‘The brickwork was taken down, and the figure found’. (Maurice V. Brett, Journals and Letters of Reginald, Viscount Esher, two vols, cit., Hibbert, 501).

When the Royal Mausoleum was nonetheless open to the public, it was troublesome to truly research these effigies, as a result of the common individual shouldn’t be tall sufficient, for which purpose, a particular statement bridge was constructed on the aspect of Prince Albert’s effigy, to permit guests to pay their respects at the similar time, together with the current writer.

In a poignant royal parallel, Queen Victoria had been reunited with the Prince Consort on 22 January 1901, on her demise. Her effigy additionally subsequently needed to be reunited together with his, which it duly – ultimately – was.

©Elizabeth Jane Timms, 2018

Elizabeth Jane Timms is a royal historian, freelance author and historic marketing consultant. She contributes to an educational journal on royalty and writes for journals, newsletters, magazines and the net. She writes a well-liked weblog as resident historian for Royal Central.