What happened on 28th June 1838?
Queen Victoria is one of Britain’s most well-known monarchs but what happened on the day she became Queen of the British Empire?
A youthful Queen gets public support for the British Monarchy.
Britain was relieved to have a new young monarch and it is thought that if she hadn’t been the new ruler of Britain, the health of the monarchy would have been in serious decline. The public were tired of monarchs that were old and out of date, as per the previous three men before her. Victoria brought a new vitality to the role and was barely 19 years of age for her official entry into the role of Queen.
New traditions are formed at Queen Victoria’s coronation, ensuring the people of Britain can take part in the celebrations.
On 28th June 1838, Victoria was crowned Queen of the British Empire at Westminster Abbey. Taking advantage of this new wave of Royalism, the coronation was adapted to display Victoria to the public as much as possible.
There was a grand procession, where the Queen rode in the famous golden carriage used by George III nearly 80 years earlier. The route of the procession was designed to allow as many people as possible a sighting of the Queen, from Buckingham Palace, through St James and Pall Mall, and past Whitehall to Westminster Abbey.
It was estimated that more than 400,000 people came into London on the newly built railway to see the event. Following the formal ceremony in Westminster Abbey, the Queen took the journey back to Buckingham Palace in the open carriage so the spectators could catch a glimpse of her again.
It was the first time this was done for a royal coronation, and it became a tradition for future coronations ever since. General public celebration was seen throughout London with fireworks in Green Park in the evening.
The five-hour ceremony in Westminster Abbey did not go smoothly as there had been no prior rehearsals.
The actual ceremony inside the abbey took over 5 hours to complete and as it was unrehearsed, there were many mishaps during the service. An uncomfortable mishap for the Queen was when the bishop forced the specially made coronation ring onto an incorrect finger.
The 42-carat sapphire and ruby ring had been made for the Queen’s little finger but was jammed by mistake onto her ring finger so tight that it was very painful to remove later.
The actual ring, which is a large sapphire with 5 rubies and surrounded with 20 diamonds can be seen today in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
The official coronation medallion was designed and engraved by Italian artist Benedetto Pistrucci.
As with all coronations from the time of James I, there was an official coronation medallion struck, and this medal can be seen here in my collection. The medallion released for the occasion was by Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci.
Originally from Rome, Pistrucci had been working in London since early in the 19th century and rose to prominence after his encounter with naturalist Sir Joseph Banks.
Banks was so taken with Pistrucci’s work that he commissioned the artist to do several works for George III. He became involved in coin production at the Royal Mint and was highly regarded by master of the Mint, William Wellesley-Pole. Unfortunately, as he was not British, he could not officially take the Chief engraver role at the Royal Mint and this caused Pistrucci much disappointment.
Queen Victoria knew Pistrucci from when she was a princess and selected him as her engraver for the official coronation medal. The medal received varying reviews, but the depiction of Victoria is very attractive, with her hair gently drawn into a flowing bun. She had several sittings with Pistrucci to get the exact likeness perfected. There were over 5000 of this medal produced for the event, 1369 in gold, 2209 in silver and 1871 in bronze.
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