Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy Coronation Day!

“Queen Victoria was crowned at Westminster Abbey about a year after her accession, -- June the 28th, 1838. It would be easy to fill many of these pages with accounts of a ceremonial which has increased in splendor as it has diminished in significance. The whole ceremony was founded upon the belief that the Sovereign represented the Majesty, and wielded the power, of the great God of heaven and earth. So long as this belief was real and universal, the ceremony of the coronation, and all the complicated state and etiquette of royal life, was not altogether wanting in propriety. It was the attempt of rude and barbarous men to express their rude and barbarous conceptions of the divine government, and the sacredness and awfulness of even its poor human representative. But people no longer believe that any special divinity resides in, or is represented by, the convenient ducal houses of Germany, from which England borrows a monarch upon occasion. We need not dwell therefore upon the extremely laborious and expensive way in which the English of modern times get the crown placed for a few seconds upon a sovereign's head.
She was queen, then, at length.”
James Porter, 1868 http://womenshistory.about.com/library/etext/bl_eminent_victoria_i.htm


Way to go, James! What, a little jealous, are we? At least you knew men were ‘rude and barbarous’ even as you wrote the most rude, belittling, irrelevant piece on a royal coronation.
Now this is more like it!

”I was awoke at four o'clock by the guns in the Park and could not get much sleep afterwards on account of the noise of the people, bands, etc., etc. Got up at seven, feeling strong and well; the Park presented a curious spectacle, crowds of people up to Constitution Hill, soldiers, bands, etc. I dressed, having taken a little breakfast before I dressed, and a little after. At half-past nine I went into the next room, dressed exactly in my House of Lords costume..."
"At 10 I got into the State Coach with the Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Albemarle and we began our progress... It was a fine day, and the crowds of people exceeded what I have ever seen; Their good humour and excessive loyalty was beyond everything, and I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a nation."
"I was alarmed at times for fear that the people would be crushed and squeezed on account of the tremendous rush and pressure. I reached the Abbey amid deafening cheers at a little after half-past eleven; I first went into a robing room quite close to the entrance where I found my eight train-bearers Lady Caroline Lennox, Lady Adelaide Paget, Lady Mary Talbot, Lady Fanny Cowper, Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope, Lady Anne Fitzwilliam, Lady Mary Grimston, and Lady Louisa Jenkinson, all dressed alike and beautifully in white satin and silver tissue with wreaths of silver corn ears in front, and a small one of pink roses round the plait behind, and pink roses in the trimming of the dresses."
"After putting on my mantles and the young ladies having properly got hold of it and Lord Conyngham holding the end of it, I left the robing room and the Procession began… The sight was splendid, the bank of Peeresses quite beautiful all in their robes, and the Peers on the other side. My young trainbearers were always near me, and helped me whenever I wanted anything. The Bishop of Durham stood on the side near me, but he was, as Lord Melbourne told me, remarkably maladroit and never could tell me what was to take place."
"At the beginning of the Anthem I retired to St. Edward's Chapel, a small dark place immediately behind the Altar, with my ladies and trainbearers took off my crimson robe and kirtle, and put on the supertunica of cloth of gold, also in the shape of a kirtle, which was put over a singular sort of little gown of linen trimmed with lace; I also took off my circlet of diamonds and then proceeded bareheaded into the Abbey; I was then seated upon St. Edward's chair where the Dalmatic robe was clasped round me by the Lord Great Chamberlain."
"Then followed all the various things; and last (of those things) the crown being placed on my head which was I must own a most beautiful impressive moment; all the Peers and Peeresses put on their coronets at the same instant..."
"The Enthronisation and the Homage of, first, all the Bishops, and then my Uncles, and lastly of all the Peers, in their respective order was very fine."
"Poor old Lord Rollo, who is 82 and dreadfully infirm, in attempting to ascend the steps fell and rolled quite down, but was not the least hurt; when he attempted to re-ascend them I got up and advanced to the 'end of the steps, in order to prevent another fall…"
"I then again descended from the Throne and repaired with all the Peers, bearing the Regalia, my Ladies and Train-bearers, to St. Edward's Chapel. The Procession being formed I replaced my Crown (which I had taken off for a few minutes), took the Orb in my left hand and the Sceptre in my right, and thus loaded, proceeded through the Abbey, which resounded with cheers, to the first robing-room; where I found the Duchess of Gloucester, Mamma, and the Duchess of Cambridge with their ladies. And here we waited for at least an hour, with all my ladies and trainbearers."
"The Archbishop had (most awkwardly) put the ring on the wrong finger, and the consequence was that I had the greatest difficulty to take it off again, which I at last did with great pain..."
"At about half-past four I re-entered my carriage, the Crown on my head and the Sceptre and Orb in my hands, and we proceeded the same way as we came-the crowds if possible having increased. The enthusiasm, affection, and loyalty were really touching, and I shall ever remember this day as the PROUDEST of my life! I came home a little after six, really not feeling tired. At eight we dined..."
from Queen Victoria’s diary
Jenn

3 comments:

Kristin-Marie said...

Fantastic topic!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

What a wonderful blog! I love the diary excerpt, can't imagine what she must have felt like that day!

Christine Koehler said...

Great blog! I can only imagine the ceremoy, must have been fatastic.