Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Home Beautiful: Christmas Trees of the Duchess of Kent and the Royal Children at Windsor Castle, 1850

Queen Victoria's Christmas Tree
William Corden, the Younger
after James Roberts, 1851
The Royal Collection
Queen Victoria loved Christmas! She loved it. I think she loved it largely because she really liked to get presents. I mean, she really, really liked to get presents. And, Prince Albert liked to give her presents. So, the Queen had her own little tree on a table upon which she could show off the many opulent gifts she received, and she would admire them and make visitors do the same.  

The image to the left shows one such display of gifts at Windsor Castle in 1851.

So, as you can see, Her Majesty really enjoyed Christmas.  And, why not?  Look at what she was given.  Still...

At a point, she also had nine children. I would assume that most of them enjoyed getting presents, too. But, they, naturally, didn’t get to put their gifts on the Queen’s gift table. They had their own. And their own tree.

Oh, yes, and the Duchess of Kent—Queen Victoria’s mum. Victoria didn’t like her mum too much most of the time. They had, after all, some rather strange history stemming back to the Kensington Palace days. But, Christmas meant that the Duchess of Kent would be hanging around Windsor Castle, and, since she was the mother of the Queen, she did deserve some cheer as well. So, she got to share the royal kiddies’ spot. She did, however, get her own tree. 

How nice. 

And, here’s a drawing of that phenomenon. Created by James Roberts (1800-1867), this beautiful watercolor shows a topographical view of a gorgeous, but unnamed, room in Windsor Castle. Painted in 1850, this image gives us a glimpse at the Christmas trees—dangerously aglow with candles--of the Duchess of Kent and the Royal children and a look at the gifts that they received that year.

Throughout the year, Victoria and Albert commissioned these watercolor drawings of the Royal residences to serve as records of their decor.  Their Majesties always made a point to have paintings created of their Christmas displays.  The Royal Collection contains several such scenes.

The Christmas Trees of the Duchess of Kent and the Royal Children
James Roberts, 1850
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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