British State Visit to France, 1855

Following the French State Visit to Britain in April, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal as they made a historic State Visit to France, where they were hosted by Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie of France for a 10-day State Visit, which ended on this day in 1855. 

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The British Royal Family were received by Emperor Napoleon III at Boulogne before being welcomed by Empress Eugenie at the Château de Saint-Cloud near Paris, where the Royal Party stayed for the duration of the visit. Events during the visit included a visit to the Paris World’s Fair, a military review on the Champ de Mars in Paris, and a visit to the tomb of Napoléon.

The highlight of the State Visit was, no doubt, the magnificent Ball in the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) at the Château of Versailles, following a a Dinner in the Palace Opera, hosted by the Emperor and Empress in honour of the Queen and Prince Consort. Prince Napoleon and Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, cousins of the Emperor, was also present along with the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal. Queen Victoria described the Galerie as ‘full of people & one blaze of light from endless lustres, wreaths of flowers hanging down from the ceiling’ and described dancing several dances.

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Other magnificent evening events included multiple small Dinners at the Château de Saint-Cloud, an Opera Performance at the Paris Opera House (Queen Victoria wore her Emerald Tiara and Parure), a Banquet in the Apollo’s Gallery of the Château de Saint-Cloud (Queen Victoria wore her Opal Parure and the Empress wore the French Sapphire Parure), and a Ball for 8000 at the Paris City Hall.

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RCT | Bowes Museum | RJWMB | Versailles

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