The Queen's Visit to to Victoria Park. Source: Wilson 445.

When spring came round, "the great joyless city," as Mr. Walter Besant calls the East End of London, was gladdened by the Queen, for on the 2nd of April [1873] her Majesty went there to visit Victoria Park. She was accompanied by the Princess Beatrice, and drove from Buckingham Palace to the park in an open carriage. Her route was along Pall Mall, Regent Street, Portland Place, Marylebone Road, and Euston Road to King's Cross, up Pentonville Hill to the "Angel" at Islington, beyond which point along Upper Street, Essex Eoad, Balls Pond Eoad, through Dalston and Hackney, surging crowds of people lined both sides of the entire way. Streamers of gaudy bunting floated overhead from house to house across Islington Green. The Dalston and Hackney stations of the North London Railway, the Town Hall, and shops of Hackney were conspicuously decorated, and it was noticed that the Queen went among the poor of the East End without any military escort, a feat that few European Sovereigns would have dared to emulate. At the Town Hall she halted and received a bouquet, while the people sang the National Anthem.

At the temporary entrance to Victoria Park a triple arch of triumph had been erected, deep enough to resemble a long marquee in three compartments, open at both ends. It was handsomely fitted up in scarlet and gold, and here was stationed a guard of honour of the Fusiliers, while an escort of Life Guards was in waiting to conduct her Majesty round the park. Even the slums in this dismal quarter exhibited meagre decorations, eloquent alike of loyalty and indigence. A poor shoemaker, having nothing better to show, hung out his leather apron, on which the Queen saw with a thrill of interest that he had chalked up in flaming red letters, "Welcome as flowers in May. The Queen, God bless her." The enthusiasm of the populace on this occasion was due to a curious idea that prevailed all over the East End. This visit, they said, was no ordinary one, because the Queen had come of her own free will to see the East End — a very different thing from the East End going westwards to see her. Hence a hurricane of cheers greeted the Queen wherever she went, and was more gladsome to her ears than the ornate language of the loyal addresses which she received.

Her Majesty returned by Cambridge Heath Eoad, and when she came to Shoreditch the way was rendered almost impassable by an eager crowd. From Bishopsgate Street to the Bank she was hailed with passionate loyalty, which seemed to lose all restraint when on passing the Mansion House she rose in her carriage and smilingly bowed to the Lord Mayor, who stood in his State robes under the portico and saluted her. She then drove along the Embankment to the Palace, having charmed the sadder quarters of London with a visit which the people took to mean that they were not forgotten or ignored by their Queen. [445-46]

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Bibliography

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