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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

The Arrival of Prince Albert, 7th February 1840

His Royal Highness Prince Albert on his way from Dover to London, dated 1841 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

Prince Albert left Germany on the 28th of January, he reached Dover on the 7th of February and was met with an enthusiastic welcome. The journey by boat took five and a half hours from Calais to Dover, the winds were strong and the sea stormy which left the Prince and his entourage terribly seasick. Once settled into his hotel, he wrote to Victoria that his father, brother and himself had a 'terrible crossing' and stated that when they landed in Dover their faces 'were more the colour of wax candles than human viasges'. He described his travel as not only awful because of the weather but because the whole boat was crammed with sick people. He emphasised the unsatisfactory transportation in his letter by writing 'never remember having suffered so long or so violently. Papa and Ernest too were in a miserable condition.'

The boat which carried the royal party to Dover was The Ariel, formerly called the ‘Arrow’ which was built in 1821-22, it went into service at Dover shortly after construction. It was then transferred to the mail service in April 1825 and continued to be a packet boat (carrying domestic mail and passengers) up until 1846. The boat has been immortalised in the painting ' The Arrival of Prince Albert' by William Adolphus Knell - The boat was captained by Luke Smithett and escorted by HMS Firebrand whilst carrying the German Prince.

The Arrival of Prince Albert, 6 February 1840 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

On entering the harbour they were saluted by the cutters ‘Vigilant’ and ‘Victoria’ which was followed by loud cheering from the large crowds gathered on the quays. Once they landed The Duke of Wellington, the Harbour Commissioners, the Commander of the Garrison and local dignitaries greeted the royal party. They were then granted with a Guard of Honour which was provided by the 90th Light Infantry who escorted the Prince and entourage to The York Hotel. Upon their arrival to the hotel, they were greeted by the Mayor and other local dignitaries.

The following morning, shortly after 10 o'clock two troops from the 11th Light Dragoons, and a Guard of Honour of the 90th Light Infantry, drew up outside of the hotel. The Prince was addressed by the Mayor, who was accompanied by the Aldermen in their robes and regalia. The Prince made a speech and at 11:30 left Dover with his entourage in seven carriages. He was escorted out of the town by the two troops of Dragoons, and a Royal salute was fired from the batteries. Squadrons of the 11th Light Dragoons took it in turns to escort the royal party's coach to London via Canterbury. Upon his arrival, Queen Victoria granted him the title of Royal Highness.

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