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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Prince Albert

Prince Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, Germany on August 26, 1819.

Albert's future wife, Queen Victoria, was born earlier in the same year with the assistance of the same midwife.

He was the second son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. His family were connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs.

When Albert was four, his mother ran off with a German Baron. Albert and his elder brother, Ernest, spent their youth in a close companionship scarred by their parents' turbulent marriage and eventual separation.

After their first meeting, Queen Victoria said Prince Albert was "extremely handsome." She wrote in her diary: "His hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth."

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria were married in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace on February 10, 1840 and had a two day honeymoon at Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their return from the marriage service at St James's Palace, London, 10 February 1840. Engraved by S Reynolds after F Lock.

Victoria and Albert's wedding cake was 9 feet around, weighed 300 pounds and was 14 inches high. It was served at the wedding breakfast.

Prince Albert was a talented composer of both sacred pieces such as Te Deum in C, which was sang at Quuen Victoria's 60th celebration anniversary celebration of her reign and various piano songs that were said to be reminiscent of Mendelssohn and Schubert.

Albert planned the Great Exhibition which had 13,500 exhibitions and constituted at its time the largest assembly of people collected together for one purpose. Instead of the loss initially predicted, the Exhibition made a profit of £186,000,

Part of the profits of the Great Exhibition went to build the Royal Albert Hall, which was originally conceived by Prince Albert as a hall of art and sciences. The official opening ceremony of the concert hall was on March 29, 1871.

Prince Albert introduced the German habit of erecting a Christmas tree. Published pictures, that were featured in the Illustrated London News, of the Royal Family around a Christmas tree draped with candles, presents and sweets, proved influential in igniting the spark of modern Christmas celebration as a family event.

Christmas pudding became a proper tradition in the 19th century when Prince Albert, a fan, introduced it to the royal Christmas.

Albert originated a fashion for wearing a watch chain across a waistcoat from one pocket hole to the other.

Albert drove himself too hard trying to win over the public and his health consequently suffered. He had a chronic inability to stay awake once it got to late evening, which lead to a number of embarrassing incidents at various public functions.

Prince Albert replica by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, oil on canvas, 1867 (1859)

Albert died at 10:50 p.m. on December 14, 1861 in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle, in the presence of the Queen and five of their nine children.

The traditional black band on a Panama hat was added in mourning for Prince Albert after he died. Its been retained ever since.

Every day for 40 years after his death, Victoria ordered that Albert's clothes be laid afresh on his bed in his suite at Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria never really recovered from his death and was in continual mourning.

The Albert Memorial, commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of Prince Albert, is 176 ft (54m) high. Unveiled in Kensington Gardens in 1872, it cost £120,000 to build (the equivalent of £10 million today).

Albert is the only British Consort to have had a memorial (Albert Memorial) and a public building (Royal Albert Hall) dedicated to his name.

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