The unveiling of the statue of the Prince Consort at Coburg, 26 August 1865

Following my recent post on Prince Albert, here is a painting by George Thomas of the unveiling of his statue in Coburg. Below, explanatory notes from the Royal Collection.

A watercolour view of the market place at Coburg, with statue of the Prince Consort to the left, the gauze having just been removed from it. The Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha stands beside the Queen; maidens of the town line the square, and a band plays in the right foreground.

Prince Albert died prematurely at the age of 42 of typhoid fever on 14 December 1861. Queen Victoria was distraught at the loss of her husband, and focused much of her energy in the subsequent years on perpetuating his memory in many different ways, such as through erecting memorials to him nationally and internationally. Victoria visited Coburg, Prince Albert’s birthplace, in October 1862 to chose a site for a statue of him she wished to give to the town. It was made by the sculptor William Theed, who was commissioned to make a death mask of Albert in the days after the latter’s death (see RCIN 34098 for the bust by Theed based on the death mask). The bronze statue at Coburg, which was sited in the market place, shows the Prince wearing garter robes and holding a copy of the catalogue of the Great Exhibition (which Albert played a leading role in organising). Queen Victoria attended the unveiling ceremony of the statue on 26 August 1865 – 26 August was Albert’s birthdate – with the Prince’s brother Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and all nine of her children with Albert. The Queen wrote in her journal that it was the first time that all the royal children had been together since 1858, when the eldest (Victoria, Princess Royal) married – “& now they were all together, & the head of all was missing! Dreadful” (Queen Victoria’s journal, 26 August 1865).

Thomas, who had worked extensively for Victoria and Albert, was commissioned by the Queen to travel to Coburg to record the ceremony. He also produced a watercolour depicting the Queen and Princesses before the statue, about to leave bouquets in front of it (see RCIN 914747). He used existing studies for the portraits of the royal family, and drew another version of the other scene from the opposite side of the square, which was published in the Illustrated London News (16 September 1865).

2 thoughts on “The unveiling of the statue of the Prince Consort at Coburg, 26 August 1865

  1. This is more or less how I imagined the unveiling must have been — the smaller the duchy, the greater the pomp. But of course with the Queen herself in attendance, they had every right to go all out.
    Six years earlier, Queen Victoria had travelled to Halle, Germany, to unveil a statue of Georg Friedrich Händel (also in that city’s Market Square), on the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death. Händel lived the first eighteen years of his life in Halle. After that he spent three years in Hamburg, where he played the violin, cello and cembalo in the orchestra of the Hamburg opera house. Then he spent four years in Italy before settling in London, where he wrote most of his forty operas, thirty oratorios and hundreds of other musical works.

    Liked by 1 person

    • …and also began his long association with the Foundling Hospital, for which he wrote an anthem, Blessed are they that considereth the Poor. He was also very generous in giving fundraising concerts for the FH, being always prepared to “besport himself at the keyboard”.

      Liked by 1 person

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