The special exhibit will examine how Queen Victoria transformed Buckingham Palace, then an “unloved royal residence,” into a powerful symbol of the British Monarchy and a home for her nine children.

By Meghan Overdeep
April 16, 2019
Yui Mok - PA Images/Getty Images

Sure, Queen Elizabeth lives there now, but it was Queen Victoria who transformed Buckingham Palace into the shining symbol of the British monarchy it is today.

This summer, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, Buckingham Palace is honoring the royal icon with a special exhibition detailing her life and how she “turned an unloved royal residence into the center of the social, cultural and official life of the country.”

According to the Royal Collection Trust, visitors will learn how Victoria and Prince Albert made Buckingham Palace a “rallying point for the nation, a powerful symbol of the British Monarchy, and a family home for their nine children” through priceless artifacts and an immersive ballroom experience.

Victoria was the first reigning British monarch to live in Buckingham Palace. She moved in to the long-vacant home just three weeks after she ascended to the throne on June 20, 1837, at the age of 18. The Palace was commissioned at great expense by her uncle, George IV, who never once occupied it.

“The Queen’s ministers advised her to stay at Kensington Palace, her childhood home, until Buckingham Palace could be brought up to a suitable standard, but Victoria wanted to move immediately and begin her new life,” a Royal Collection Trust press release notes.

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The “Queen Victoria’s Palace” exhibit will include a number of portraits, including one by Thomas Sully portrait said to be one of the “most striking early likenesses of the young Queen,” her gilded costume for the Stuart Ball, a sketch of herself and Prince Albert, personal journal entries, and projections that transform the Palace Ballroom into the space as Victoria and Albert would have known it.

Queen Victoria’s Palace at this year’s Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace goes from July 20 through September 29, 2019.

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