Victoria moved into the palace three weeks after ascending the throne in June 1837, when she was just 18 years old

By Simon Perry
July 17, 2019 02:20 PM
Queen Elizabeth
Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty

Queen Elizabeth is following in the footsteps of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

On Wednesday, the monarch, 93, took an immersive experience of how the ballroom at Buckingham Palace would have looked during Victoria’s reign in the 1800s.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the royal, “Queen Victoria’s Palace” tells the story of how the young queen brought the palace to life during her reign, transforming the empty royal residence into the most glittering court in Europe.

In the unique exhibit, the palace ballroom has been transformed with projections of brightly-colored images of the original wallpaper, friezes and decorations. At the center of the exhibition is a theatrical portrayal of dancers at the ball.

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Queen Elizabeth
Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty

The Queen, 93, viewed the show ahead of this year’s Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace on July 20.  The theatrical centerpiece of the exhibit shows a waltz danced at the ball staged at the end of the Crimean War on June 17, 1856.

Queen Elizabeth
Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty

A Hollywood-based company projected images of dancers onto glass — a trick that was used in Victorian musical halls and theaters. Six actors and dancers filmed the waltz. Mini-narratives were also added, including a story of couple falling in love and another of a young woman attending her first royal ball.

During their time together at Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria and husband Prince Albert held three magnificent costume balls. The Queen wrote a detailed account of one of the occasions in her journal and commented:  “I was so proud and pleased to see my beloved Albert looking so handsome, truly royal and distinguished, and so much admired.  I must say our costumes were beautifully made.”

Queen Elizabeth
Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty
Queen Elizabeth
Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty
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Victoria and her husband introduced the balcony — now a fixture at celebrations like weddings and the Queen’s annual birthday parade, Trooping the Colour — and threw garden parties.

“Victoria transformed the fabric of the building and in doing so created new traditions — bringing people into the palace,” co-curator and historian Dr. Amanda Foreman said during a tour.

Queen Elizabeth
Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty

“This was an expression of female power, about female duty and public service. This is not about military might and spectacle, which is what we associate with a male monarchy.”

Victoria moved into the palace three weeks after ascending the throne in June 1837, when she was just 18 years old. Three days after her arrival, while renovations were ongoing, she hosted her first party — a concert.

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