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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria's Christmas tea for the families of soldiers serving in the Anglo-Boer war, 26th December 1899

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023

In 1899, Queen Victoria spent a final Christmas at Windsor Castle. The following day, 26th December, the hosted a tea at St George’s Hall for the families of soldiers serving in the second Anglo-Boer War. Queen Victoria described the event in her journal:

“Dull & foggy. — When I went out with Beatrice, it came on to rain, so that I was able only to take quite a short turn. On coming lie, I went into St. George’s Hall to look at the beautiful big Xmas tree, 25 ft. high, hung with all sorts of little presents, sweets, toys & glittering ornaments, which Beatrice, Helen & the Ladies have worked hard in decorating. — Took a short drive in a closed carriage, after luncheon, with Harriet P. & Aliné M. — At ½ p. 4 went to St. George’s Hall with all my family, including Lenchen, Victoria B. & her children, where I gave the wives of the soldiers & their children, a tea & the Xmas tree. The Committee who are looking after those who are left here, as well as those of the Reservist, were presented to me, Mary Eliot & Freddy Crutchley being amongst them. The Dean, the Major, the Vicar of Eton, &c. were there. Then all the woman, & children trooped in, & after looking at the tree they all sat down to tea at 2 very long tables, below the tree. Every one helped to serve them, including my family, old & young & my ladies & gentlemen. I was rolled up & down round the tables after which I went away for a short while to have my own tea, returning when the tree was beginning to be stripped, handing my self many of the things to the wives & dear little children, many of whom were very pretty, & mostly very young. They were so neatly dressed & very well behaved. There were some babies of a few weeks & months olds. The women seemed very nice & respectable. It was a very touching sight, when one thinks of the poor husbands & fathers, who are all away, & some of whom may not return. – They seemed all very much pleased. – Jane C., L’ Denbigh, Mr Conyngham Green, our former Diplomatic Agent at Pretoria, Major Schreiber of the 1ISt Life Guards & Major St. Anhyn of the Grenadiers, (both in command of their Regiments, as the Colonels were absent) Col: Legge & Capt: MC Neill dined. Mr Conyngham Green was very interesting to speak to. He had foreseen this war sooner or later, & said the Boers had been quite determined to bring it on. Perhaps it was better that it had come now, than later. He spoke also of having been at Darmstadt in dear Louis’ time.”© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012 © Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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