The archives of the Royal Collection will feature a new exhibit entitled Victoria and Albert: Art and Love. Four hundred items are on display recording the love affair between Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. The organizers are hoping the many unseen treasures will help challenge the perception of a staid monarch, mainly pictured in her widow’s weeds after her husband’s death.
Victoria and Albert believed that all events were worthy of commemoration. Private momentos include the first milk tooth of their eldest daughter Princess Vicky, in an unusual piece of jewelry. An inscription on the reverse suggests Prince Albert culpable for the extraction during a visit to Loch Laggan, Scotland in 1847. Princess Victoria went on to marry the German Emperor Frederick III and became German Empress and Queen of Prussia.
The personal items in the collection also show an interesting side to the couple. A gold and enamel necklace containing 44 teeth from stags hunted on the royal estate at Balmoral by Albert is one of the more intriguing pieces. Each of the teeth is engraved with the date the animal was killed and the clasp contains the inscription ‘All shot by Albert.’ The necklace was given to the Queen in 1860 as a gift from the Prince Consort.
On exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace, a 1853 portrait, Evening at Balmoral Castle: The Stags Brought Home – by Carl Haag, showing Albert throwing two dead stags at his admiring wife’s feet. Organizers say there is evidence that several teeth from these particular deer actually ended up in some of the jewelry in this showing. Assistant curator Kathryn Jones explained, “According to German tradition, animal teeth had talismanic properties, but for Albert they were a rather macho display of his passion for Victoria.” Although it may seem odd, hair, teeth, claws and animal parts were very popular for jewelry in Victorian times.
The couple were first cousins (her mother, Princess Victoria, and his father, Duke Ernst, were brother and sister) and their marriage in 1840 was a legendary love match. Victoria produced nine children before Albert’s tragic death in 1861 at the age of 42, leaving his wife inconsolable. She remained devoted to his memory throughout a long widowhood and was buried alongside him in 1901.
Victoria and Albert: Art and Love runs at The Queen’s Gallery from March 19. For further information see