Monday, February 13, 2006

25Apr1856, A Royal Ball

LONDON, April 25th, 1856.
—The Day of the Queen's Ball ! ! The second I have had, and both described in the same journal-book. This time the ball was at 9, instead of 1/2 past 8. Auntie Pussy (Mrs. Gladstone), Aggy, Lena, and Willy and Stephy who both came from Eton in the morning, dressed at Carlton Terrace, I was sent to George Street, to dress with Mamma and Winnie. Aggie, I, Lavinia, and Lena were all alike, in tarlatane frocks, trimmed the three skirts with white ruches, twined round with some pretty pink trimmings. Wreaths of pink roses, the little ones smaller than ours. White kid gloves, white satin shoes, and white silk stockings completed our attire. We set off in three different equipages ; Mamma, Win and I were in Mrs. Talbot's chariot : we went from George Street to Carlton Terrace, where we got out for a minute to show ourselves, and there standing in the hall, amongst the rest, was Aunt Coque. We had a hasty embrace, Win and I made a low curtsey to the admiring servants, and then rushed back into the carriage, for it was rather late. The others had just gone. My bathingfeel fast increased as we drove up the Park, through the gates, into the court, and under the arch of Buckingham Palace. We got out, and were ushered up the well-remembered grand staircase, on either side of which were masses of flowers, and through a door which led into an ante-room ; when lo from a side door issued a " gallant train." First Her dear little gracious Majesty, my own Queen. Down went our curtseys, and we had her smile and bow all to ourselves. After the Queen came the Princes and Princesses. Down went our curtseys. Then came the fat Royal Duchesses. Down went our curtseys. Then the rest of the company. We fell in with them, and moved on to the Throne Room. How well I remembered it ! We were late, or else we should have gone into the long Gallery like last year. We soon found Auntie Pussy and hers, and had a good look at the Royalties. There was my own darling Prince Arthur, grown much, and there was precious little Prince Leopold, whom I have never seen before, a lovely little fat darling, with the same large blue eyes and curly head as his Highness's little brother. Princess Alice, in honour of whose birthday the ball took place, is very plain, poor child, and was further spoilt by her hair which had been forced into stiff curls. Princess Royal looked very nice indeed, quite pretty in fact ; she is now quite out, and consequently only danced with grown-ups, the Duke of Cambridge principally. The two little Princesses looked beautiful and dear as usual, in their Highland dresses, in which they look so very well always. Little Prince Arthur was also in Scotch dress, all except the plaid. There were the fat duchesses like last time. Now a thing was done that I don't remember was done last time : everyone filed before the Queen, made a curtsey, and received her gracious welcome. So we set off, I think, the first of all, and when about half-way, I discovered that Mamma had stayed behind. In woful distress I looked all about amid the crowd, to see if I could catch a glimpse of her, but I couldn't, so I thought I must move on with Auntie Pussy, etc., as we were already half-way. So we came up to the Queen : there was her gracious smile, and down went my curtsey (a beautiful one). Auntie P. said " Lucy Lyttelton," for the Queen looked at me, and said, " This is not one of yours." Her Majesty shook hands with me ! and then turning to Auntie Pussy : " And your sister, where is she ? " So Auntie Pussy looked round, and said something about her soon coming and we had to go forward, for there were more people coming up. It was very vexatious, and Auntie Pussy was very vexed, for of course I should have come up with my own Mamma. However I daresay the Queen was not angry, for when Mamma did come up with Winny, she smiled at her, and said, " Is that another of your little ones ? " Well, the dancing began, and I danced very nearly every one thing. There was a reel, which I couldn't dance, but the Prince of Wales danced just opposite to where I was standing ; so I saw his beautiful dancing famously. I danced once with Willy, with the son of the Belgian Minister, with one of the Farquharsons, and I forget the rest. Aggy again danced with Prince Alfred, and talked to Princess Alice, oh, happy girl ! There was supper like last time, and I had wine and seltzer water, and ices, which were delicious. Little Prince Leopold retired after the first quadrille, led by a grand lady. The ball was over at about half-past 12, when the Queen came down from the dais, and made a lovely curtsey to everyone. I managed to get with Winny near the side door at which she went out, and got a dear bow and smile to ourselves. Then came the National Anthem. Then we managed to find our belongings and went home. Oh, how delightful it was !

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