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A Royal Bedroom

Assistant Curator of Paintings Alex Buck explores the significance of the portraits hanging in Victoria and Albert’s bedroom at Windsor Castle in 1847

A watercolour view of Victoria and Albert's bedroom at Windsor Castle. Dated on original mount: 1847. On 31 March 1847, Queen Victoria wrote in her journal that they had looked at a number of newly rearranged rooms within the private apart

Queen Victoria's Bedroom, Windsor Castle (RCIN 919810) ©

During the first decade of her reign, Queen Victoria commissioned and created several displays of portraits of her immediate ancestors. This watercolour records one such hang – a series of family portraits in a set of identical frames – in a particularly personal space, the bedroom she shared with her husband Prince Albert at Windsor Castle.

The paintings are all copies of original portraits from the Coburg royal collection depicting the seven children of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his wife Augusta. Francis and Augusta were the maternal grandparents of both Victoria and Albert.

The portrait of Duchess Augusta is easily identifiable, as is that of her daughter, Princess Sophia of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Victoria and Albert’s aunt, above the door. Both copies were painted by William Corden the Younger. Sophia’s fashionable turban suggests the original painting dates from the first decade of the 19th century.

Duchess Augusta (left, RCIN 406489) and Princess Sophia (right, RCIN 406490) ©

Detail from RCIN 919810 showing the portraits of Duchess Augusta and Princess Sophia ©

Detail from RCIN 919810 showing the portraits of Duke Ernest and Duchess Louise ©

Directly facing us are Duke Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Duchess Louise, who were Prince Albert’s parents. Portraits of Victoria’s parents were hung on the opposite wall, not visible in this watercolour.

This watercolour is an important record of a carefully thought-out display illustrating close familial ties with Queen Victoria’s direct German ancestors. Hanging these portraits in such a private space demonstrates the affection she felt for her German family and their importance to her. Though the paintings are now dispersed and hang in various royal residences, through studying this watercolour and historical inventories we can understand and appreciate Victoria’s motivations and the importance of family to her.