Queen Victoria’s Mourning Clothing Sold at Auction

by A-Badgero

One of Queen Victoria's mourning outfits, including underwear and bearing royal seals which verifies its authenticity, was up for auction on June 30, 2012.

Alexandrina Victoria of the Royal Hanover house was queen of Great Britain and Ireland from the time she was 18 years old on June 20, 1837 up until her death at age 82 on January 22, 1901. Not only was Queen Victoria, with a reign that spanned over 63 years, the longest reigning British Monarch of all time but she was also the longest reigning female monarch in history.

Other than being remembered for her extended reign, many remain interested in Queen Victoria due to her somewhat odd reputation for being “obsessed” with death. She was a huge influence on the public’s beliefs and behaviours during this era which is why, to Victorians, death and its rituals held just as much importance as rituals concerning life.

When Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, died suddenly in 1861 from typhoid she went into a deep mourning for the rest of her life. Wearing mourning attire was an accepted tradition however, it was customary to wear it for only a certain period of time after the funeral; the amount of time was dependant on your relation to the deceased. Widows were not to be seen in public without being dressed all in black with a mourning veil for the first year after their husband’s death and could dispense with the veil but were to wear black for the next year. After that the color of cloth lightened as mourning went on, to grey, mauve and white – a period called half-mourning.

The Queen brought regular mourning rituals to an entirely new level, a level that by today’s standards may even have been considered a tad on the strange side. Every night she would place a cast of Albert’s hand on her pillow so that she could “hold him as she slept” She insisted her staff lay out Albert’s clothing every morning as well as have his breakfast prepared and a bowl of hot water in his room for his shave despite the fact that he had been dead for years. She spent the rest of her life in black mourning dress (almost 40 years) avoiding public appearances when she could.

It soon became high fashion to wear mourning dress, although only the wealthy and royalty could afford the expensive garments. Commoners would try to keep up with the trend by dying their regular garments black and adorning them with black lace and veils.

Even today we are fascinated by the funerary customs of the Victorian era particularly with those practised so strictly by her royal self.  Over the span of 40 years Victoria wore many mourning outfits however they all consisted of a black hat featuring a mourning veil and black adornments, black silk taffeta and bombazine bodice, black grosgain ample skirt with black leather shoes.  A recent museum exhibit on the life of Queen Victoria displayed her full mourning costume as well as her black lace parasol, mourning jewelry and her handkerchief embroidered in black.

Often important royal garments were inherited by the ladies in waiting who worked within the royal grounds.  A full mourning costume of Queen Victoria’s was dropped off at Hanson Auctioneers in Etwell Derby by an anonymous donor who discovered the apparel in a home that he/she had recently purchased. There are likely many more of these important historical outfits worn by the 19th century queen concealed in homes throughout England. Auctioneer, Charles Hanson called it “a real royal catwalk find” and hopes that this piece of history will find its way to a museum or historic collection so the general public will be able to admire and appreciate it.

The entire outfit equipped with monogrammed bloomers and chemise all size 43” waist were auctioned off on June 30, 2012 and were expected to bring in approx £1000 or $1,550 in US dollars. A U.S. colector became the new owner of the clothing which sold for £6000 or $9,500 US. It’s still a fairly cheap price for the historic clothing considering the dress that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in Wizard of Oz sold just sold at an auction on June 18, 2012 for $1,119,000.

Read more:

Queen Victoria’s mourning outfit emerges for sale | UK DailyMail

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