Queen Victoria's Coronation

In 1837, eighteen-year-old Victoria ascended to the British throne. She was crowned in 1838. Because she was fatherless and unmarried, Queen Victoria was seen as a romantic heroine who needed her knights in shining armor to protect her. Though she was inexperienced, British subjects embraced Victoria as a welcome change after the disappointment of the Hanover kings. Victoria’s reign popularized the use of romanticized medieval imagery and themes, which were in turn echoed by the contemporary media, emphasizing “returning” to the values of the past and encouraging “an ideal of female passivity” (Saunders, 6).

A few notable errors occurred at Victoria’s coronation, including the Archbishop of Canterbury forcing a too-small ring onto the wrong finger. Additionally, Lord Rolle fell down the steps when making his homage to the Queen. Regardless, Victoria recorded the event in her journal as “the proudest of my life.” Her ceremony was the first to feature a procession from the palace to Westminster Abbey, making it a public spectacle for everyone to participate in. Although traditionally English coronations end with a banquet, it was canceled for Victoria due to a financial recession. However, the Earl of Eglinton hosted the Eglinton Tournament on August 28, 1839 in Ayrshire, Scotland, as a celebration of the medieval past and its connection to the new queen’s coronation. Guests were encouraged to wear medieval dress, and the tournament featured a parade of knights and a formal ball with the missing medieval banquet. Unfortunately, overcrowding and inclement weather dashed the overall romantic quality of the event.

Ref: Simmons, Clare A. “Women Writers and Nineteenth-Century Medievalism by Clare Broome Saunders.” The Wordsworth Circle 40, no. 4 (2009): 167-68. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24043559.