Queen Victoria Returns to the Grand Salon

Although Queen Victoria never set foot on American soil, she influenced almost every aspect of American life in the last three quarters of the 19th century. She presided over a vast empire, traditionally a male job, and yet, she was revered as a model of female domestic virtues and a dutiful wife at a time when the culture of female domesticity dominated life in the United States and the United Kingdom. This culture dictated that women were not to have roles of responsibility in the male dominated world, but Queen Victoria set the tone for the fashionable world of upper and middle class society.

Buying Queen Victoria additional favor here in the United States were her religious principles which departed significantly from those of some of her more bawdy ancestors. This adherence to religion and the church stood her well with the more puritanical Americans. Additionally, her belief that even though ordained by God to be Queen she still must follow the moral dictates of the church was well received by protestant America.

The American fascination with Queen Victoria was seen as early at 1837 when souvenirs were sold for her coronation. Her fashion was followed; the white wedding dress of today is traced back to Victoria’s wedding. Before the death of Prince Albert her hair style and dresses were imitated, and the long extended mourning rituals that she practiced following Albert’s death were also adopted by Americans.

Adelicia must have been an admirer of Queen Victoria as well. She named her first daughter, born three years following the coronation, Victoria. At the time, first daughters were customarily named for their mother or grandmother. Chiefly evident of Adelicia’s affection of Victoria was this life size portrait, but we also know she had a pair of English prints of Victoria and Albert.

Royal watching is nothing new; it’s a centuries old practice that kings and queens have used to marshal the love and support of their kingdoms. What’s interesting is that though people have long held this fascination for royalty, and that the methods of royalty watching have changed and evolved, the fashion trends of today are still heavily influenced by the royalty of today.

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Nashville, TN 37212

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Nashville, TN 37212

615-460-5459

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The architecture of Belmont Mansion makes it one of the most significant homes of 19th century Tennessee.

Sold by the Acklen family in 1887, the house went to a developer who began one of Nashville’s early suburbs.

It was then purchased by two women who in 1890 started a college which evolved into Belmont University. Today the Belmont Mansion Association, which was formed in 1972, owns the collection, runs the museum, and shares this unique story of 19th century Nashville with visitors from far and near.

Photos by Ed Houk