A statue of Prince Albert as a Greek warrior and a painting of bathing maidens are just a few of the extravagant gifts exchanged between Queen Victoria and her husband now on display at Osborne on the Isle of Wight. English Heritage is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the births of the royal couple this year, with a new display and trail at their seaside retreat – Queen Victoria was born on 24 May and Prince Albert on 26 August in 1819.
‘Celebration: Victoria & Albert’s Birthdays at Osborne’ explores how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent their birthdays at the family home every year. Celebrations were very much a family affair complete with performances of poetry and music by the royal children, celebratory dinners, and group photographs – and, of course, there were gifts. Victoria and Albert made grand gestures to each other – commissioning paintings, sculptures, and jewellery for the celebrations.
These gifts were presented each year on an elaborately decorated birthday table, set out in a room decorated with flowers. Many of these gifts are still part of The Royal Collection housed at Osborne and are the focus of the new trail and display which continues into 2020 at the couple’s family home.
“Until the death of Prince Albert, Victoria always spent her birthdays at Osborne and revealing these occasions gives a real glimpse into the private lives of the royal family and how they celebrated,” says Michael Hunter, English Heritage curator at Osborne. “For Victoria, a cake and candles simply would not do, there were bands and feasts and songs and poetry; a day of festivity for the entire household, including the staff. We are incredibly lucky to still have over 80 of the beautiful gifts exchanged between Victoria and Albert at Osborne, and the new display and trail allows visitors to marvel at the array of gifts, from a pair of cut glass candelabras to a neoclassical statue of Victoria herself.”
To pre-book a group visit to Osborne, call 01983 200022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org