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Queen Victoria’s Palace at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace

Release date: Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Queen Victoria's costume for the Stuart Ball ©

The music, dancing and entertaining that characterised the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign will be recreated through special effects and displays throughout the State Rooms at this year’s Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace from Saturday, 20 July.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria, the exhibition Queen Victoria’s Palace tells the story of how the young monarch brought the Palace to life, transforming an empty royal residence into the headquarters of the Monarchy, a family home and the most glittering court in Europe.

Through objects from the Royal Collection and an immersive experience in the Palace’s Ballroom, the exhibition explores themes including Victoria and Albert’s family life at the Palace, the construction of the iconic front façade and magnificent Ballroom, and the use of the Palace for entertaining, from costume balls to Garden Parties.

Highlights of the exhibition include the embroidered robe made from cloth of gold that Queen Victoria wore for her coronation in 1838, and the costume that the Queen wore at the Stuart Ball of 1851, when guests dressed in the style of Charles II’s court.

In the Ballroom, the first ball to be held by Victoria and Albert in this newly built space has been recreated for visitors using a Victorian illusion technique known as Pepper’s Ghost, as well as a series of digital projections around the room. Four couples appear performing a waltz, while the original Italian Renaissance-inspired decoration is recreated on the walls of the room. In the adjoining Ball Supper Room, projections have returned the original ceiling decoration of exotic birds and gold stars against a rich blue background, allowing visitors to imagine both spaces as Victoria and Albert would have known them.

In the State Dining Room, the table is dressed with items from the ‘Victoria’ pattern dessert service, purchased by the Queen in 1851, and the Alhambra table fountain, a silver-gilt and enamel centrepiece commissioned by Victoria and Albert. On pieces of silver-gilt from the Grand Service, commissioned by Victoria’s uncle, George IV, sit replica desserts based on a design by Charles Elme Francatelli, Queen Victoria’s Chief Cook. 

Visitors will also learn how Victoria made Buckingham Palace what it remains today – the headquarters of the Monarchy, a rallying point for national celebrations and a family home – and how she created traditions that still endure, including appearances by the Royal Family on the balcony at the front of the Palace and the annual summer Garden Parties.

Queen Victoria’s Palace is at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace, 20 July – 29 September 2019.

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