Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Victoria's "Two-Horse Open Sleigh" on Display at Windsor

To mark the festive season, Queen Victoria’s sleigh has gone on display for the first time at Windsor Castle. Built by the carriage-makers Hooper & Co., the sleigh, which is painted in bright red and gold and lined with red velvet, will be on view in St George’s Hall until 12 January.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent many Christmases at the castle, and the queen often enjoyed sleigh rides around Windsor during the winter months. According to contemporary newspaper accounts, Prince Albert drove the sleigh, which was pulled by a pair of gray horses with harnesses decorated with ostrich plumes and silver bells. The grooms and outriders who accompanied the royal couple were dressed in scarlet livery. The royal children often travelled in a smaller sleigh, pulled by a pony.

Extracts from Victoria's journal reveal her enjoyment of sleigh rides. In the entry for 12 February 1855, the queen recalled an outing with Princess Clémentine of Orléans: "Another sharp frost and a fine day – Albert drove Clem and me out in the sledge … with the exception of 2 or 3 little places, we went beautifully and as smoothly as though we were on ice. The sun bright & the sky so blue. We were out for an hour!"


David said...

Thank you for this delightful post, Kristan. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to take a ride around Windsor in that sleigh. Just imagine staying out for an entire hour! I'm envious of the people who will get a chance to see it up close and personal.

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