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An oil painting of a garden party at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria and Alexandra, Princess of Wales are returning to the Palace in an open carriage pulled by two grey horses; in the garden, on the left, the Prince of Wales is conversing to a couple in

Their history, form and function

Frederick Sargent (1837-99)

The Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, 20 June 1887 1887-89

RCIN 407255

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It was during Victoria’s long reign that the first Garden Parties were hosted in the Buckingham Palace garden. The very first event took place on 22 June 1868 with Queen Victoria describing the event in her journal: ‘The afternoon splendid, & not too hot’…Quantities of people on the lawn whom I had to recognise as I went along…it was very puzzling and bewildering’. Much of the activity at a Garden Party takes place on the 5 acre camomile lawn between the garden front of the palace and the lake with tea tents set up on the lawn. This painting by Frederick Sargent depicts the garden party that took place on 20 June 1887 to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The Queen is shown at centre left, flanked by her son and heir Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII), receiving two women who curtsey before her. In the busy scene, it is possible to identify the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury; William Gladstone; Sir Frederic Leighton; Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild and many of the crowned heads of Europe. Queen Victoria recorded the occasion as such in her journal:

before 5 I joined all my family (which is legion!) & the enormous number of foreign guests…People were spread all over the garden, and there were a number of tents, and a large one for me…I walked right round the lawn in front of the Palace with Bertie, and I bowed right and left, talking to as many as I could…