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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria's Journal - The inaugural ball at Buckingham Palace, 8th May 1856

On 8th May 1856, the new Ballroom at Buckingham Palace opened with an inaugural ball. The throne room was designed by Sir James Pennethorne, with Ludwig Gruner supervising the Italian Renaissance inspired interior decoration.


The second ball held at Buckingham Palace. Watercolour by Louis Haghe © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

Queen Victoria's journal:


"The same cold, windy weather. We got out for a short walk. - Sitting to Winterhalter. - Lunched earlier & dressed, 'en grande tenue", to receive on the Throne, (in succession) Congratulatory Addresses on the Peace, from the Hse of Lds, the Hse of c, the City & the Lleutenancy of London. Afterwards saw La Palmerston for a moment & talked about the Debate on the Peace, - the Army. - & a message being sent to both Houses, proposing a pension of £1000 a year for Sir Wm Williams, whom I shall make a Baronet, allowing him to style himself Sir Wm Williams of Kars. Then saw Ld Clarendon, with we talked about various things, including the proposed of Gen: Greys going to St. Petersburg, which is now definitely settled. - Ld Clarendon introduced Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizier, who was here, as Ambassador, 14 years ago, & attended, as Turkish Plenipotentiary, the Conference. He is an extremely good specimen of a Turk, but was so nervous, he could hardly speak. He presented Albert with the Order of the Medjidie, very handsomely set in diamonds. After he left, the other presents for me arrived, which are really very magnificent: 2 very large diamond ornaments, one of which I think I can wear, as a very large brooch, & the other will have to be reset. Albert also received some very fine horse trappings. - The afternoon was so bad, we did not go out, but later went over to the Ball Room & Supper Room, which really are very handsome, & with the promenade gallery, small vestibule & all the other rooms & Corridor, which were thrown open, made a fine suite of apartments. - We dined with Vicky, & at p 9. went with her to the usual Drawing rooms, where we found Mama, Aunt Cambridge, Mary & George & soon after proceeded through the Saloon & former Ball Room, full of people, through the Dining Room, & vestibule, straight into the Ball Room, which did indeed look quite magnificent, The Band handsomely dressed in scarlet & gold, looked very effective, & when everyone came in, the seats were already all occupied. The elegant "toilettes' of the ladies & numerous uniforms, brilliantly lit up, made a splendid ensemble'. The whole Court, in attendance on us, sat behind us, which was very convenient. The set of seats, on our left was entirely given up to the Corps Diplomatique. The ventilation was very good, & everybody could rest & could see. Albert, even, who generally dislikes State Balls, enjoyed it, & I could have stayed up till 4, I am sure. Before we went in, he said he felt paternal anxiety, for the 2 children's success on their irst public appearance, & thank God! it was perfect. Vicky looked very pretty with her rose buds, & enjoyed herself immensely. Mama remained for more than an hour, being much pleased. There were a great many Crimean Officers, amongst when a Capt: Brown, whose arm was shot off just in front of Ld Raglan on the 18th of June, which Sir J. Pennefather & Edward had described to us. - Brunow took leave, intending to return to Paris. - We danced 6 Quadrilles, 3 before, & 3 after supper, I, with George, & Albert with Mary, I, with Edward, & Albert with Ctse de Persigny. I with Cte de Persigny & Albert, with the Dss of Roxburghe. I, with the Duke of Buccleuch & Albert, with Ly Stafford. I, with the Duke of Manchester, & Albert with the Duchess, who was in great beauty. I, with M. d'Azeglio, & Albert, with the Cts of Domburg. I also valsed with George after supper. Etta Lichfield was in great beauty, & there were many pretty young girls. All was over at 1/2 p. 2. It was truly a most successful "Fète", & everybody was in great admiration of the rooms. "

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