Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

9
CORONATION

'What was called an Altar
was covered with sandwiches, bottles of wine, etc.'

AFTER A DISTURBED NIGHT in which she had 'a feeling that something awful was going to happen tomorrow', the Queen was woken up at four o'clock in the morning in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace by the sound of guns in the Park, and 'could not get much sleep afterwards on account of the noise of the people, bands etc. etc.'. It was Thursday, 28 June 1838 and she was to be crowned that day in Westminster Abbey. Thousands of people had travelled to London the day before until, as the diarist Mary Frampton told her mother, there were 'stoppages in every street . . . Hundreds of people waiting . . . to get lifts on the railway in vain . . . Not a fly or cab to be had for love or money. Hackney coaches £8 or £12 each, double to foreigners.' 1

'The uproar, the confusion, the crowd, the noise are indescribable,' Charles Greville confirmed. 'Horsemen, footmen, carriages squeezed, jammed, intermingled, the pavement blocked up with timbers [for the spectators' stands], hammering and knocking and falling fragments stunning the ears and threatening the head . . . The town all mob, thronging, bustling, gaping and gazing at everything, at anything, or at nothing. The Park one vast encampment, with banners floating on the tops of tents and still the roads are covered, the railroads loaded with arriving multitudes.' He found the racket 'uncommonly tiresome', yet he had to concede that the 'great merit of this Coronation is that so much has been done for the people [the theatres, for example, and many other places of entertainment were to be free that night]. To amuse and interest them seems to have been the principal object.' 2

-70-

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