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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Journal - Prince Albert’s ice skating incident, 9th February 1841

After having breakfast and seeing their daughter in the nursery on 9th February 1841 - the day before their first wedding anniversary. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert decided to go for a private walk around the grounds of Buckingham Palace. It had been a particularly cold winter, which had caused the lake to freeze solid. A few weeks earlier, Queen Victoria had given Albert a new pair of ice Skates, which according to Victoria he put on “& helped me to walk across the ice, which was very smooth & hard, — to the island.’ Victoria remained on the bank of the island while Albert “skated all round the Lake”.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert Skating at Frogmore © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

Her journal entry recording the incident reads -

"We talked of this time last year, which was my last day, unmarried. — We went up to see the Child, after breakfast, & then we went into the garden with Miss Murray & Seymour. I had list shoes on, in order to be able to walk on the frozen ground. Albert put on his skates, & helped me to walk across the ice, which was very smooth & hard, — to the island. He skated all round the Lake, & on coming close to the bridge, — quite a narrow place, I, standing alone on the bank, — said, "it is unsafe here", & no sooner had I said this, than the ice cracked, & Albert was in the water up to his head, even for a moment below. In my agony of fright & despair, I screamed, & stretched out my arm, Miss Murray pulling me. My dearest Albert managed to catch my arm, & reached the ground in safety. Oh! how thankful I felt to see him at my side again & that God should have mercifully preserved him from such a great danger! He cut his chin a little, & was of course dripping with water, so that he ran home as fast as he could. It was a horrid experience, & I never felt anything so dreadful, as seeing my beloved one in the water, & thinking, as I did, that I should lose him before my very eyes unable to rescue him! I followed with Miss Murray as quickly as I could & poor Seymour arrived when all was over. When I got home, I found Albert running about to warm himself & looking very pale. He took a hot bath & went to bed for a bit, well wrapped up, but was able at ½ p. 1, to go down with me into the Hall, to receive Uncle Leopold, who I think, is looking very well. We took him up to see the Child, & then lunched, Mama joining us. —

At 3, I saw Ld Melbourne. Talked of our horrid fright this morning, at which he was greatly shocked, — of the Elections & Ld Listowel being sure of succeeding at St. Albans; — of Jocelyn being expected in Town today; — of the climate of China being so bad, & that Adm: Elliott was very ill, but that people say that by degrees one gets accustomed to it. — We went down to Uncle Leopold, & remained a little while with him. He gave me a kind letter from dear Louise who sent me a very pretty Turquoise ring. — Wrote my Journal & Albert read to me. — Besides ourselves, Mama, Uncle Leopold, Gen: Goblet, & Van Praet, Ld Melbourne, Van de Weyer, Ld Surry, & Ld Uxbridge, dined. Uncle led me in. I talked to Ld Melbourne after dinner of Ld Listowel being elected by a majority of 47, & it's being such a good thing. Monmouthshire unfortunately, does not look so well. The Member resigned without saying a ward, — too had. Ld Melbourne agreed with me, that one ought in future, always to be prepared for such eventualities, amongst the Members. "

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

Albert was naturally grateful for Victoria's assistance and expressed his gratitude in a letter to Duchess Caroline of Saxe-Gotha- Altenburg on thr

The letter to Duchess Caroline of Saxe-Goth-Altenburg on the 12 February 1841 Prince Albert recalls the incident -

'Buckingham Palace, 12 Feb. 1841. — The cold has been intense. . . . Nevertheless, I managed, in skating, three days ago, to break through the ice in Buckingham Palace gardens. I was making my way to Victoria, who was standing on the bank with one of her ladies, and when within some few yards of the bank I fell plump into the water, and had to swim for two or three minutes in order to get out. Victoria was the only person who had the presence of mind to lend me assistance, her lady being more occupied in screaming for help. The shock from the cold was extremely painful, and I cannot thank Heaven enough, that I escaped with nothing more than a severe cold. They had, it seems, broken the ice recently at that particular spot, and it had frozen over again, so that it was impossible to distinguish the place'

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