A royal dressing gown worn by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert is set for public display at Kensington Palace – the place where the couple first met – after spending 150 years tucked inside a wardrobe.
The full-length, handsewn floral dressing robe, which dates back to the 1850s, was bought at auction at Hansons London, Teddington, for a hammer price of £3,000 by Historic Royal Palaces on August 12.
The independent charity looks after various important sites included the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace - the place where the silk robe is now destined for a new lease of life.
Eleri Lynn, Collections Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “Surviving examples of Prince Albert’s clothing are exceptionally rare, and this is the first acquisition by Historic Royal Palaces of an item from his wardrobe.
“It fills an important gap in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection – an internationally important collection of over 10,000 items of royal and court dress – and offers us a fascinating glimpse into Albert’s private and off duty taste.
“Following research by our experts, we hope to one day display this fabulous item at Kensington Palace to help us tell the story of his life with Queen Victoria in the very place they first met.”
Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, said: “Queen Victoria adored Prince Albert and wore black for the rest of her life when he died aged 42 from what was thought to be typhoid fever.
“We’re delighted this item of royal clothing is set to honour his memory, return to Kensington Palace and be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The purchase is made all the more significant as it’s almost 200 years since Prince Albert was born on August 26, 1819.”
Featuring a crown mark inside the collar and flori-bunda rose design in golds and dusky pinks, the robe was given to one of the royal couple’s most loyal servants, German-born Rudolph Löhlein. He became valet to Prince Albert and personal attendant to Queen Victoria and was so highly thought of he was rewarded with a job and pension for life by the Royal Household.
The Surrey vendor, who did not wish to be named, said: “Rudolph Löhlein was my great-great grandfather. He became the Prince Consort’s second valet in 1847 and then principal valet in 1858. They knew each other as children. He was at Prince Albert’s death bed when he died in 1861. My father used to say Albert died in his arms.”
“The dressing robe is beautifully made. I inherited it from my mother. It’s been carefully preserved for many years, wrapped up and put away in a wardrobe.”
Queen Victoria never forgot Löhlein’s attention to Albert during his illness.After her husband’s death, she retained him as personal attendant and groom of the chambers. He retired in 1884 with a generous royal pension. When he died at the age of 68 in 1896 Queen Victoria sent a letter of condolence, wreath and representative to his funeral. He is buried in St Mark’s Church Yard, Surbiton, London.
Prince Albert’s dressing robe was sold on August 12 at Hansons London Saleroom, The Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. To find out more, please email [email protected] or call 020 7018 9300.