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Queen Victoria’s contemporary fans

At court events throughout the long reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901, the holding of fans was de rigueur and the Queen’s wardrobe doubtless contained many hundreds of fine examples.

Much information about specific fans owned by the Queen is found in the list made shortly before her death, in which both the origin and destination of 85 fans is noted; 11 of these fans are displayed in this exhibition. These were among the 30 finest and most historic examples, which were bequeathed to King Edward VII. But the Queen also owned numerous other fans, including the black lace-trimmed one ‘used in the last moments’ of her life at Osborne, in 1901. 

While this fan was probably purchased by the Queen from one of her outfitters, others such as the 'National Progress' fan were commissioned by her. In the latter case the design of the leaf was derived from the text of Prince Albert’s speech at the laying of the foundation stone of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1850, on the subject of National Progress. The pretty silk fan was acquired in France as a present from Prince Albert to the Queen on her thirty-ninth birthday in 1858. Other fans were presented to her by Marie-Amélie, Queen of the French, in 1844 ('Queen Victoria's arrival at Treport'), by the Empress Eugénie in 1855 ('Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie'), and by the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee in 1897 ('Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee fan').