The Queen Laying the Foundation Stone of the Royal Albert Hall. Source: Wilson 289).

On the 20th of May [1867] the Queen laid the first stone of the Hall of Arts and Sciences at Kensington, now known as the Royal Albert Hall. It was intended, and has since been used, for scientific and artistic congresses, both national and international; performances of music, distribution of prizes by public bodies, agricultural, horticultural, and industrial exhibitions, and displays of pictures and sculpture. At the inaugural function 7,000 visitors were arranged in an oval amphitheatre richly draped, and gay with the bright summer costumes of the ladies, and with gorgeous official uniforms. Among the guests were the Foreign Ministers wearing their decorations, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen in their robes. Lord Derby, Mr. Disraeli, and other Ministers and Ex-Ministers. The foundation stone bore in gold letters the inscription, "This stone was laid by her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, May 20, 1867." Accompanied by Princesses Louise and Beatrice the Queen arrived at the entrance of the building at Kensington Gore at half-past eleven, where tbc Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh met the party. After receiving an address read by the Prince of Wales, her Majesty made the following reply, but, contrary to her usual habit, in a scarcely audible tone of voice:—

I thank you for your affectionate and dutiful address. It has been with a struggle that I have nerved myself to a compliance with the wish that I should take part in this day's ceremony; but I have been sustained by the thonght that I should assist by my presence in promoting the accomplishment of his great designs, to whose memory the gratitude and affection of the country are now rearing a noble monument, which I trust may yet look down on such a centre of institutions for the promotion of Art and Science as it was his fond hope to establish here, it is my wish that this hall should bear his name, to whom it will have owed its existence, and be called "The Boyal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences."

Amid a flourish of trumpets and the distant booming of twenty-one guns that had been stationed in Hyde Park, the polished block of granite was lowered into its place, the Queen declaring it well and truly fixed. The Archbishop of Canterbury offered up a short prayer, and the band and chorus delivered the vocal and instrumental music of a composition by the Prince Consort, entitled "L'Invocazione all'Armenia." The solo tenor parts were given by Signor Mario with great effect, and the Queen, while passing through the building, stopped where he stood, and personally thanked this sweetest of sweet singers. [288-89]

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Related Material


Wilson, Robert. The Life and Times of Queen Victoria Vol.II. London: Cassell, 1893. Internet Archive. Contributed by Harvard University. Web. 7 October 2017.

Created 7 October 2017; last modified 18 July 2021 (date corrected)