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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s journals - Her engagement to Prince Albert, 15th October 1839

Updated: Jan 11

‘Leap year’, published by 26 Haymarket : Thomas McLean in 1840 ©️ Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

On this day in 1839, Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert in the blue closet within her private apartments. Despite going against normal tradition, Victorias role as the monarch meant that she had to propose to her future husband. In October 1839 Prince Albert returned to Britain to visit his cousin and further strengthen their relationship. Their match had been planned by their mutal families since their births. The the 15th of October 1839, Queen Victoria finally decided to propose to Prince Albert at Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert in the blue room in Windsor Castle, writing later that she would ‘strive to make him feel as little as possible the great sacrifice he has made’. The title of this satirical print refers to the tradition that on 29 February a woman may propose to a man. This date only occurs once every four years, during what is known as a leap year. Although 1839 was not a leap year, their marriage took place in February 1840 which was.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had matching engagement rings made for each other, the design was a serpent wrapping around the finger from 18 carat gold, the eyes featured ruby eyes and a emerald inlaid within the serpents head. The emerald was chosen as it was Queen Victoria's birthstone. It is believed that Prince Albert designed the rings himself. Various modern artists have depicted it as a one band ring but in various photographs and paintings the rings seem to wrap around their fingers various times. As seen in this plaster cast of Prince Albert's hand -

The serpent is a roman symbol for eternal love which seem fitting for this couple. The serpentine design because increasingly popular during the Victorian era, even Victoria had various serpent rings and brooches. Queen Victoria was buried with both her and Albert's engagement rings.

Victoria writes in her journal on the 29th October 1839 - 'Albert gave me a ring just like the one I gave him with the date of the 15th in it'

Queen Victoria wrote in her diary on Tuesday, October 15. 1839 -

'Got up at 10, and breakfasted at ½ p. Saw my dear Cousins come home quite safe from the Hunt, and charge up the hill at an immense pace. Wrote to Feodore &c. Saw Esterhazy. Wrote to Victoire. At about ½ p.12, I sent for Albert; he came to the Closet where I was alone, and after a few minutes I said to him, that I thought he must be aware why I wished them to come here,- and that it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wished (to marry me); we embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind, so affectionate; oh! to feel I was, and am, loved by such an Angel as Albert, was too great delight to describe! he is perfection; perfection in every way,- in beauty - in everything! I told him I was quite unworthy of him and kissed his dear hand,- he said he would be very happy, “das Leben mit dir zu zubringen”, and was so kind, and seemed so happy, that I really felt it was the happiest brightest moment in my life, which made up for all that I had suffered and endured. Oh! how I adore and love him, I cannot say!! how I will strive to make him feel as little as possible the great sacrifice he has made; I told him it was a great sacrifice,- which he wouldn't allow’

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