Features

Royal Wet-nurses

With the birth of a new royal baby, I would like to explore the history of royal wet-nurses. Why were they once a perceived necessity? In historical terms, a wet-nurse would have been engaged for a royal baby and taken on as part of an official appointment. The wet-nurse might expect a pension or some kind of financial reward, and in some cases, her entire family could benefit. These…
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The story of two royal photographs

At Hughenden, the Buckinghamshire manor and former home of Benjamin Disraeli, arguably Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime Minister, is a room with a poignant link to the family of the Queen’s second daughter, Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse. The story behind this…
Features

A monument to a royal child: Princess Elizabeth of Clarence

In the entrance hall of Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park is a sculpture of a royal child, remarkable in the sensitivity of its execution and the fineness of its detail. It may seem on first glance no more than a sentimental monument made to memorialise a beloved child and so immortalise its youth. The hands and feet of the nine children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were so…
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The hair of Marie Antoinette?

In the British Museum, there is a locket containing hair traditionally said to be that of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and Navarre. Donated to the museum as part of the Hull Grundy Gift (Gere, Charlotte; Rudoe, Judy; Tait, Hugh; Wilson, The Art of the Jeweller, A…
Features

The Tsarina and her English governess, Miss Jackson

“For dear Miss Jackson, with loving Xmas wishes from Alix, 1900”. With these words, inscribed as a dedication in pencil and today preserved in a frame of its own, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia (1872-1918) sent her Christmas gift of 1900 to Miss Margaret Hardcastle Jackson, her former governess from her days as a Princess of Hesse in Darmstadt. The gift came in a box, with its…
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Music for the Elector: Mozart in Munich

Mozart’s musical debut, anticipating his journey to the imperial court at Vienna by seven months, took place, somewhat predictably, before royalty. This was, had he known it, the beginning of what would prove to be many performance-based trips throughout Europe, spectacular in their struggle for due reward and recognition. The first of these was a ‘Grand Tour’ of the German states, which…
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