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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Stuart Ball Dress

On 13th June 1851, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert hosted a Stuart themed costume ball in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace.

Inspired by the court of King Charles II, the Stuart ball was the last in a series of three costume balls to be held at the Palace. The purpose had been to encourage guests to purchase new costumes to support the British textile industry, which had been struggling to compete with imported fabrics.

On 8th May, Victoria wrote in her journal that she was "much occupied" with preparing her costume, which had been designed by the French artist, Eugène Lami.

She later described how it consisted "of grey moire antique, ornamented with gold lace, - a very long waist with a berthe of guipure, & sleeves trimmed with old lace." (1)

The petticoat itself was woven in Benares and could be seen through an opening in the front of the dress, which "was of rich gold & sliver procade, (indian Manufacture) richly trimmed with sliver lace." (2)

As the entry goes on, Victoria also mentions that, along with "diamonds & pearls, ... In my hair I wore an ornament of pearls, & a large emerald, - my small diamond crown & pearls twisted in the back of my hair. The shoes & gloves were embroidered to match the dress." (3)

Fortunately the dress still survives today and, in 2019, it made a rare appearance in a special exhibition at Buckingham Palace to celebrate Queen Victoria's 200th birthday.


1,2 & 3:

RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) 1 May 1861 (PRINCESS BEATRICE'S COPIES) retrieved 8 June 2024

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