10th February 1840 - Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress
As many people know, it is said that Victoria started the trend of wearing a white coloured dress on your wedding day. However, not many know how complicated the journey was that had it come to be.
In the early of planning her wedding, Lord Melbourne suggested that she might wear her royal robes of state, as she mentions in her diary -
They talked about me wearing my robes, but I thought not.
She made it clear that her wedding was not like others of the time, where it was all for advancement and gain, with no thought of romantic preference. Her wedding was a personal affair; she was marrying for love.
In the end, Victoria would design her own dress, as well as her bridesmaids’ dresses. She had her dress made entirely of British materials, as was well publicised at the time. This was a political move, as she was showing to foreign powers just what her country had to offer and that she was still representing Britain. The silk was woven in Spitalfields, East London and the lace was handmade in Devon. Finally, the outfit was sewed together by Victoria’s own dressmaker, a Mrs Bettans, with the pattern being destroyed afterwards to prevent the dress being replicated.
The finished garment would include a bodice, the waist pointed over a full, pleated skirt with full puffed sleeves and a round neck, all made of Spitalfields white silk satin. The train was immense, measuring 18 feet and edged with orange blossom spays (orange blossom being a symbol of fertility). Orange blossom would feature a lot on her person, as her wreath above her veil (which was 12 feet long) was made of it and it trimmed her dress. She also wore matching satin shoes (see two above), and a blue sapphire brooch at her breast which was a wedding gift from Albert. In her diary, on her wedding day of the tenth of February 1840, she described her whole outfit as thus -
I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch
Victoria did not wear her actual wedding dress for the whole day, as when she returned to Buckingham Palace after the service and wedding breakfast she withdrew to change into ‘a white silk gown trimmed with swansdown and a white bonnet with orange flowers’, an outfit very similar to her original ensemble. Years later, Victoria would allow her favourite daughter Beatrice (who would be one of the queens few close companions in her widowhood) to wear her wedding veil at her own wedding in 1885 (see photograph below). She would be the only daughter of Victoria allowed this special privilege. In addition later still, Victoria would be buried wearing her lace veil, in 1901
Featured Image Emily Blunt as Victoria on her wedding day, The Young Victoria 2009 Sources - Becoming Queen, Kate Williams Historic Royal Places Photograph #3 by Daily Mail
A 22-year-old Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in chalk by Hungarian artist, Charles Brocky, 1841. Commissioned that same year after Victoria saw his portrait of
Georgiana Liddell, one of her maid’s of honour, and fell in love with his work. This romantic pair of portraits resides today in the Queen’s sitting room at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
This amazing fan was gifted to Queen Victoria on her 39th birthday (24th May 1858) by Prince Albert. The fan was almost certainly made in France by
Madame Rebours, who had been granted a royal warrant by Victoria. It features Victoria’s monogram VR below by a crown, and swags of lilies-of-the-valley (among other flowers) and ribbons. During the Victorian era, flower symbolism became immensely popular .Since this fan was commissioned for Victoria’s birthday her ‘birth flower’ (those lilies-of-the-valley) decorates the fan extensively.
I’ve been fascinated with her since I was about 5 years old. For a young, curious girl there was something captivating about a woman whose charisma and intelligence managed to change the course of history in a time when women were still supposed to be demure second class citizens. I’ve also always been particularly interested in women who were made out to be villains and manipulated in to being scapegoats for the faults of their husbands or male counterparts: Marie Antoinette, Lady Jane Grey, Anne, Cleopatra. I even did a dissertation at secondary school on Livia Drusilla, Emperor Augustus’ wife, who was portrayed as a murderous, social climbing psychopath.
She was fiercely intelligent and not afraid of showing it. She was known to be quick witted and highly accomplished for her day. In other words, she won people over with more than just her sexuality.
She could have let herself be a pawn but instead she took the situation her father had created- pushing her to be a mistress to the king- and turned it in to something she was happy with. Basically she refused to let herself be manipulated because she was a woman.
She wouldn’t sleep with Henry until he was committed to making her his wife. Not only does it take a hell of a lot of guts to turn down the most powerful man in the country for years but it also flies in the face of this image of her being a homewrecker. She wouldn’t be his mistress, despite all of the accusations of her being a “slut.”
She was a dedicated reformer. It’s possible that she promoted the reformation because it promoted her position, but nonetheless she was a passionate believer in reforming the church and making religion more accessible.
She did a lot for poor and vulnerable people. Much like Marie Antoinette, her charitable work and her dedication to helping people is all but ignored in favour of the more scandalous parts of her life. For example, she had a big fight with Cromwell because, after the seizing of the church’s assests, Anne wanted the money to go to charity whereas Cromwell wanted it for himself and the King.
She was highly influential over Henry’s choices and was a brilliant politician. To some that might seem like a bad thing, but I personally think it’s bad ass that her intelligence and ambition meant she was taken seriously as a decision maker and she was instrumental in a lot of agreements, like the alliance with France
She had no issue telling Henry he was wrong, which was dangerous for a wife. They argued quite a bit but she was astute.
She was a devoted mother. In that time, women maintained a certain amount of distance from childrearing and Anne was unusually involved in Elizabeth’s life.
She was hated by a hell of a lot of people, watched her brother and friends be executed and was accused of things like incest and witchcraft, but she maintained her dignity above everything. She had an enormous amount of strength
I think this quote from Eric Ives, a historian, sums it up for me:
“A woman in her own right—taken on her own terms in a man’s world; a woman who mobilised her education, her style and her presence to outweigh the disadvantages of her sex; of only moderate good looks, but taking a court and a king by storm. Perhaps, in the end, it is Thomas Cromwell’s assessment that comes nearest: intelligence, spirit and courage.”
Viscount Horatio Nelson, the First Duke of Bronté, was a flag officer in the British Navy. He was born in Norfolk, the son of a clergyman, and one of eleven children. He joined the Royal Navy at twelve, and ascended to the rank of Captain by the time he was twenty.
During the French Revolution, Nelson was in command of the Agamemnon, a 64 gun third rate ship of the line.
Nelson became known as a bold, rational man, with occasional disregard for his senior officers. During the Battle of Copenhagen, in order to avoid withdrawing his ship, he put his telescope to his blind eye and claimed he couldn’t see the signal.
Nelson’s strategic excellence was crucial at the Battle of the Nile, where the English fleet successfully destroyed the fleet of Napoleon. His most famous battle is Cape Trafalgar, where he led the English against a combined fleet of the Spanish and French, protecting England from invasion. Nelson was killed during this battle as he paced the quarterdeck, shot by a French sniper.
The body of Admiral Nelson was transported back to England, and he was given a state funeral.