The Christening Of Albert Edward, Prince Of Wales


On 25 January 1842, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was christened. The Magazine Of The Beau Monde described the event thus:

On Tuesday last the important event — the christening of a Prince of Wales — which had so long been looked forward to with anxiety and with joyous anticipation by all classes of her Majesty's subjects, was solemnized at, and we may say, has consecrated the Royal residence of Windsor. The eagerness which was manifested to witness the ceremonial was commensurate with the importance of the occasion which inspired it.

Amongst the earliest arrivals were the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Buccleugh, Baron Van de Weyer, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord de Lisle, the Earl of Ripon, Lord Wharncliffe, Sir Willoughhy Gordon, Lord Granville Somerset, Sir Rohert Peel, Lord Stanley, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir James Graham, Sir Henry Hardinge, Earl Jermyn (Vice Chamherlain to her Majesty), Earl Howe, and Mr. Pemherton (Attorney. General for the Duchy of Cornwall.)

Amongst the incidents of the day we may mention that upon Sir Edward Knatchhull being driven in his carriage to the gate, leading to the quadrangle, the porters stationed there not being acquainted with Sir Edward's personal appearance, requested to see his ticket of admission, whereupon the Right Hon. Baronet stated he had neglected to bring it with him, but mentioned his name, and also that he was a Cabinet Minister. The Castle functionary, however, was inexorable to Sir Edward's claims, and in all prohability that Right Hon. Baronet would have been compelled to retire until he could procure a ticket, had not Mr. Trant, the late Member for Dover, come up at the time, and, recognising Sir Edward, with some difficulty, prevailed on the gate-keeper to let him pass on to the Castle.

About eleven o'clock the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards Blue marched up Castle-Hill and proceeded through the grand entrance to the "quadrangle," where they took up their station as a guard of honour. The regiment was accompanied by its splendid band, which performed several airs during the formation of the procession. The coup d'ail which here presented itself was extremely brilliant and interesting; the royal carriages were all assembled — the coachmen, footmen, and grooms appearing in new state liveries.

The first battalion of guards shortly afterwards entered by the same route, and took up their station on either side of the line from the quadrangle, through the Norman gateway, to the wardrobe tower. The remainder of the line was flanked by the 72nd Highlanders, under the command of Colonel Arbuthnot. The hand of the regiment took up a position immediately opposite the entrance to the chapel, and on the arrival of her Majesty, Prince Albert and the various other members of the Royal Family, struck up the national anthem, the men at the same time presenting arms.

When the Royal carriages began to move from the the Quadrangle, a Royal salute was fired from the batteries, and the band struck up the National Anthem, and the troops on duty presented arms. The Duchess of Kent, on being recognised by the crowd, was loudly and vehemently cheered. His Majesty the King of Prussia wore the national uniform of the First Corps de Garde, with the chain and insignia of the Black Eagle of Prussia set in brilliants of the first water, and which is only worn by his Majesty on extraordinary occasions. He was in the third state carriage, which was preceded and followed by the Royal footmen. The Infant Prince, a fine healthy-looking babe, was carried in the arms of the nurse, Mrs. Brough, who held him up in the carriage so that he might be seen by the public. The moment he was seen by the crowd there was a loud and general cheer, which was kept up along the entire line of the procession.

The Queen and Prince Albert followed. Her Majesty and her Illustrious Consort experienced a loyal and enthusiastic greeting, which they acknowledged by repeatedly bowing to the crowd. The procession then passed into St. Georg's Chapel. [...] Shortly after eleven o'clock a brilliant sunshine burst forth and illumined the whole of the interior of the chapel. The gleam was hailed as a most auspicious omen, and it was not forgotten that on the occasion of the christening of the Princess Royal the morning had been overcast like the present, until just upon the commencement of that ceremony the sun burst forth, as now, and cheered with its rays the company then assembled.

The musical department was under the able direction of Dr. Elvey, who presided at the organ, and about eleven o'clock the organ played a short voluntary, for the purpose of giving the key to the instrumental performers. At half-past eleven o'clock Lord Lyndhurst entered the Chapel, attired in his state robes, and took the seat appropriated for the Lord High Chancellor of England, on the south side of the chapel.

The Knights of the Garter, in their splendid robes, shortly afterwards entered the chapel, and took their seats in their respective stalls. Amongst the first who arrived we noticed the Duke of Wellington, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Duke of Buccleuch, the Duke of Rutland, the Duke of Richmond, the Duke of Newcastle, the Marquis of Anglesea, the Duke of Sutherland, and several other Knights of this Most Noble and Illustrious Order.

The number of ladies in the Choir was eight. Amongst them we noticed the Duchess of Northumherland, the Duchess of Sutherland, who was conducted to her seat by the Duke of Rutland, and the Marchioness of Lansdowne, who entered the Choir with the Noble Marquis.

Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Ripon, Lord Viscount Fitzgerald, Sir James Graham, Lord Wharnchliffe, Sir Edward Knatchhull, Sir Henry Hardinge, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Earl of Aberdeen, and the Earl of Haddington, entered the chapel shortly before twelve o'clock. The Cabinet Ministers were all attired in the Windsor Court uniform. The Earl of Cardigan, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 11th (Prince Albert's) Regiment of Hussars, and a number of military officers, were also present in full costume.

Sir Robert Peel sat in the Marquis of Westminster's stall, being that on the north side nearest to the altar, and almost immediately behind the chairs appropriated for the Queen and Prince Albert. The Premier held a short conversation with Sir Augustus Clifford prior to her Majesty's arrival. The Duke of Buckingham sat next Lord Lyndhurst, and was engaged in close conversation with the Chancellor for a considerable period. Lord Cardigan occupied a stall at the lower end of the choir. Several of the foreign ministers were present in the different stalls, hut they were not generally recognised.

After most of the company had assembled, the splendid table was removed, and a purple velvet stool, edged with gold, was introduced in its room, on which was placed the superb gold font, which, from its beautiful appearance, attracted general admiration. A Gentleman at Arms then brought in a frosted glass jug, containing water procured from the river Jordan, which he poured into the font. Other gentlemen of the corps at the same time placed elegantly bound prayer-books in the chairs appropriated to the royal and illustrious attendants at the ceremony.

At half-past twelve o'clock martial music without announced that her Majesty and her Royal visitors had left the Castle for the Chapel. Very shortly after the Archbishop of Canterbury entered the chapel by the north door, followed by the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Norwich (Clerk of the Closet), the Bishop of Winchester (attired in the robe of Prelate of the Order of the Garter), and the Bishop of Oxford in the robe of Chancellor of the same Order. The Lord Primate took his place immediately at the back of the font, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Norwich standing at his right; the Bishop of London on his left.

The other Prelates and Ecclesiastics, not being about to take part in the ceremony took their stations within the altar rails. After the Right Rev. Prelates had taken their appointed places, there was a pause of considerable duration, which was broken by martial music announcing the Queen's arrival at the chapel entrance. At precisely twenty minutes to one the King of Prussia entered the chapel by the south door, and took his seat in a chair on the same side of the altar. The Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Augusta of Cambridge, entered by the same side, and occupied chairs near to his Majesty. The members of his Majesty's suite stood behind him. Immediately after the Royal procession entered the choir of the chapel by the north door in the following order:


The Queen and Prince Albert, the Duke of Sussex, and Prince George of Cambridge, took their places on the haul pas north of the altar. The Queen was attired in the robe of the Sovereign of the Garter, over a dress of the richest crimson velvet. Her Majesty wore the Collar of the Order over her shoulder, and its star on her left breast. On her head was the splendid diamond tiara, and her Majesty also wore a necklace and ear-rings of the same precious gem. Her hair was plainly dressed in loops falling over the cheeks, and drawn up behind the ears.

On entering, the Queen looked rather nervous, but her Majesty speedily resumed her wonted dignity. Prince Albert was attired in the robe of a Knight of the Garter, and the Duke of Sussex, also in the robe of a Knight of the Garter, was stationed next to his Royal Highness. The Duke of Wellington stood behind the Queen's chair, the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Steward at her right hand. At the commencement of the ceremony the Royal party formed a semicircle on the haul pas, the Archbishop of Canterbury standing in the middle, and the rest being disposed as follows :—


On the Queen's entering the choir, the grand march from Judas Maccabeus was performed on the organ by Dr. Elvey. Before its completion, however, the Royal party had taken their seats, and a signal was given to discontinue the performance. It was understood that her Majesty had expressed a wish that the ceremony should not he protracted by instrumental performances, and that it was in compliance with the Queen's express desire, and that alone, that any abbreviation took place in the musical arrangements previously decided on.

The organ having ceased, the Archbishop of Canterbury commenced the reading of the baptismal service. His Grace read the beautiful Liturgy of the Church in a clear and impressive tone of voice, calculated to awaken the liveliest sense of the solemnity of the occasion. Nothing particular occurred in the perusal of the service until the Archbishop came to the questions propounded to the godfathers and godmothers of children brought to be baptised. His Grace then turning to the sponsors, most impressively demanded of them as follows: —

"Dost thou, in the name of this child, renounce the Devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the same, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them?"

To this the King of Prussia replied for the sponsors generally, in conformity with the words of the Liturgy, "I renounce them all."

His Majesty delivered this sentence and the other responses in the service quickly, but distinctly and emphatically.

Archbishop. "Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotton Son?"

His Majesty and the other Royal Sponsors answered in an audible voice, "All this I steadfastly believe."

The Archbishop having arrived at that part of the service in which he is to take the child into his arms, her Grace the Duchess of Buccleuch received the infant Prince from the nurse, who stood close to the Queen and Prince Albert, and delivered his Royal Highness to the Archbishop. His Grace held the royal child in his arms with the greatest care, surrendering the Prayer-book to the Bishop of London, who held it for him during this part of the solemnity.

His Grace then turned to the King of Prussia and the other sponsors, and said, "Name this child." His Majesty replied in a clear voice, " We name him Albert Edward." The Archbishop then performed the holy rite of sprinkling and signing the mark of the cross upon the child's forehead, saying, "Albert Edward I baptize thee, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The organ gave forth, and the congregation joined in a solemn "Amen." The Prince lifted his little hands on being sprinkled and crossed.

The Archbishop then delivered up the Prince to the Mistress of the Robes, who carried his Royal Highness to his nurse, Prince Albert was observed to watch most attentively his Royal Highness's progress from the font to his nurse's arms. The Queen also cast glances of motherly pride and delight at her youthful heir.

The Archbishop then offered up the thanksgiving for the admission of the child as a member of Christ's Church, and then, all kneeling, the holy prayer given to Christians by the Saviour was most impressively delivered. At this moment the scene was solemn and magnificent in the extreme, and would afford a worthy subject for the pencil of the artist.

At the conclusion of the service the Prince was carried from the choir to the Chapter-room, and the organ pealed forth the magnificent "Hallelujah Chorus" of Handel. Prince Albert was observed to beat time during its performance, and the Queen cast repeated glances at the organ gallery, which without any great stretch of imagination might be construed to be expressive of her Majesty's satisfaction and approbation. Her Majesty also once or twice during the ceremony addressed herself to Prince Albert and the Lord Chamberlain.

The chorus having been brought to a conclusion, the Queen curtseyed most gracefully, first to the King of Prussia and the sponsors, then to the Archhishop and the ecclesiastics, and then with a kindly smile, to her uncle, the Duke of Sussex, who stood near her. Then, taking Prince Albert's arm, her Majesty left the choir in the same form as she entered it

The Queen having retired, the King of Prussia bowed to the ladies of the Court, and then to the ecclesiastics. His Majesty then offered his arm to the Duchess of Kent, and left the choir by the south door, followed by the Duke of Cambridge and the rest of the Royal party.

The Archbishops and other Prelates next passed out of the chapel, leaving it by the south door. The company assembled in the body of the choir were then permitted to pass to the altar table, to inspect the plate, the font,&. Great anxiety was shewn to dip a handkerchief or glove into the water of the font, with a view to treasure up such articles as reminiscences of this auspicious occasion. Indeed, such was the anxiety to approach to the font and altar, that it was some time ere the chapel could he finally cleared.

Among the occurrences of the day most particularly observed was, the devotion evinced by the King of Prussia. His Majesty's conduct throughout the service was indeed a pattern for princes and for subjects. The chapel was well ventilated, a pleasant warmth being maintained without the interruption of any currents of air. The King of Prussia was dressed in a scarlet military uniform, with blue facings and silver epaulettes. His Majesty wore the Collar of the Order of the Black Eagle.

The royal procession having departed from the Chapel, returned in nearly the same order in which it entered it, coming out through Cardinal Wolsey's Chapel, and passing through the Norman Gateway to the Quadrangle, and thence to the Castle. The good humoured expression of the countenances of the majority of the distinguished personages as they left the Chapel, particularly of the fair portion of them, seemed to indicate that they had been much pleased with the proceedings. [...]

A State Banquet was given in the evening in St. George's Hall, which presented a truly Royal appearance.

About two months ago, Mr. Scoles of Argyll-place, forwarded to Buckingham Palace a bottle, containing water from the River Jordan, to be used in the baptismal ceremony of the Prince of Wales. The water was taken from the river by Mr. Scoles in the year 1825, while pursuing his professional studies in the East, and when sent to the Palace was clear and sweet, although so many years have elapsed since it was sealed up. Mr. Scoles had the honour to receive the following letter from the Hon. C. A. Murray, Master of her Majesty's Household:—

"Buckingham Palace, Dec. 1, 1841.

Sir — I have the honour to inform you that I have this morning delivered into the hands of Prince Albert the parcel which you transmitted to the Lord Steward, containing water from the River Jordan; and I am commanded to communicate to you the gratification with which it is received by her Majesty and his Royal Highness, who will order it to he reserved for the baptismal ceremony of the infant Prince. — I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant

(Signed) Cuarles A. Murray.

J.J. Scoles, Esq."

Further reading:
The Magazine of the beau monde; or, Monthly journal of fashion [afterw.] The Nouveau beau monde; or Magazine of fashion