An upcoming summer exhibition at Buckingham Palace will feature unusual items such as a casket filled with the baby teeth of Queen Victoria’s children and marble casts made of her children's arms and legs.
The exhibition in London will look at how the 19th Century ruler transformed the palace into a family home, which included keeping her children’s teeth in an intricate gilt-metal casket she’d commissioned in the 1860s.
Wrapped in delicate paper inscribed with italic recordings of names and dates, the teeth are nestled in satin-lined compartments with blue velvet lids featuring tiny golden crowns.
The box also has the embroidered names of the monarch’s four oldest children, the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, Princess Alice and Prince Alfred.
Some of the white marble casts of the limbs of the monarch’s nine children when they were infants will also be on display, including models of Prince Albert Edward’s arm and hand, and the left foot of Victoria, Princess Royal.
Although the Queen disliked being pregnant and had trouble showing affection to her five daughters and four sons, the items portray her deep unspoken love, according to museum co-curator Dr Amanda Foreman.
“What these objects show is what her words couldn’t express which is this deep, fierce passionate love for her children, and for the recognition that childhood is so important - the thing that she felt she never had.
“There’s so much love in these marble hands and feet.”
According to Dr Foreman, what makes the collection of 14 marble hands and feet, which were kept under glass domes to preserve their whiteness, especially interesting is how unusual the items are today.
“I mean you would think ‘What was going on her head?’ We might even associate it with dead - gravestones, but that’s not at all how it was associated then,” she said. “Victoria had a great trouble showing simple affection towards her children… she didn’t have the normal upbringing that would have enabled her to be a normal mother herself so she expressed her love through things.”
Also among the sentimental items on display will be the first baby shoes of Queen Victoria’s eldest son Prince Albert Edward, who later became Edward VII.
The blue velvet slip-on shoes, which feature a matching bow and ankle straps, are inscribed with the words: “The Prince of Wales first shoes worn July 1842”.
A carved boxwood cradle commissioned by the queen for her fourth daughter Princess Louise that features emblems of the royal houses of Britain and Saxe-Coburg as well as symbols associated with sleep will be part of the exhibit as well.
To open the summer exhibition, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth, a waltz danced during a ball staged at Buckingham Palace to mark the end of the Crimean War will be recreated in the ballroom.
The Victorian illusion technique Pepper’s Ghost, which creates ghost-like images, as well as projections around the room, will enable visitors to imagine the ballroom as Victoria and Prince Albert would have known it.
The Queen Victoria’s Palace exhibition can be viewed during the summer opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace from 20 July to 29 September 2019.
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