Home Site Map Back

Departure of the Court for Scotland

Source: The Illustrated London News, Sept. 9, 1848

On Tuesday the Queen and Prince Albert left Buckingham Palace, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred, and the Princess Royal, in at open carriage and four, at twenty minutes past three o'clock In the afternoon for Woolwich, to embark for Scotland. The Countess of Gainsborough and the Viscountess Canning, Ladies in Waiting, followed in another carriage and four and Lord Alfred Paget and Captain the Hon. Alexander Gordon, Equerries in Waiting, occupied a third carriage. Her Majesty and his Royal Highness were conducted to their carriage by the Duchess of Norfolk, Duke of Norfolk, Earl Fortescue, Lord Byron, Viscount Clifden, Major-General Bowles, Colonel the Hon. C. B. Phipps, Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. B. Boyle, Colonel Wylde, and Colonel Bouverie.

View of Royals departing by ship from Woolwich, 1848, London


The visitors generally were admitted to Woolwich Dockyard by ticket from the Commodore Superintendent, and assembled in great numbers, there being nearly five thousand persons present. The river steamers were crowded with passengers, and as each vessel passed by the Royal yacht the engines were eased and stopped, to give the visitors an opportunity of inspecting that vessel. The arrangements for the preservation of order were excellent. Along the line of road leading westward from the dockyard gates a detachment of Horse Artillery, mounted, kept the road clear of vehicles and pedestrians. From the entrance of the yard to the landing-place the Dockyard Brigade were stationed in single file. The guard (if honour was furnished from the Royal Marines.

The Fisgard, the flag-ship of the port, was decked out with colours, as was also the Cerus, the Commodore's yacht. The Black Eagle, at an early hour of the afternoon, was moored alongside the quay near the basin, embarking the Royal carriages and luggage. The Royal yacht was the subject of general attraction, and her crew, who were attired in white, seemed a body of the finest picked men in the service. The yacht hoisted the Admiral's flag at her foremast and the Royal standard at the mizen. The Boat Brigade was moored immediately under the wall of the quay close to the 1anding-place ready to fire the salute.

At a quarter-past 4 o'clock the report of a gun on the heights (Woolwich common) announced the approach of the Royal cortege. Before the salute had ended, the British ensign was hauled down at the flag-staff and the Royal standard immediately substituted. Soon afterwards an escort of the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) galloped into the yard, and took up a position on either side the avenue. The Brigade Major of the Royal Artillery immediately followed, ushering in the Royal carriage, drawn by four horses, and containing her Majesty, the Prince Consort, the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, and the Prince Alfred, and followed by two carriages and four, containing luggage. Her Majesty was attired in a black visite, and wore a light bonnet, trimmed with crimson velvet, and a black lace veil. Prince Albert was plainly attired in a light drab coat and black hat. Her Majesty and the Prince immediately descended from the carriage and entered the state barge, which was steered by Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, The barge was pushed off from the stairs amidst the cheers of the assembled multitude; and at the same moment the bands of the Royal Marines and the Dockyard Brigade struck off "God save the Queen," and the Boat Brigade opened up the Royal salute. Her Majesty first ascended the ladder of the Royal yacht, and Prince Albert waited till the Royal children, whom he lifted from the barge, were safe on board. Her Majesty, after walking about the after deck for a few moments, sat down on the quarter deck, and did not move till the vessel was nearly under weigh.

A delay of nearly half-an-hour took place, owing to the time occupied in shipping the luggage, during which the Royal yacht was surrounded by a crowd of small boats, whose living cargoes occasionally raised loud cheers. The Eclipse, Dover steam-packet; Blackwall, Gravesend steamer; Orwell, Ipswich steamer, and several of the Woolwich steamers passed by during this interval, and saluted, as they passed, the Royal party. At length, the necessary preparations were complete, and the Royal yacht, in charge of Mr. Stuart, the pilot, slipped her moorings, and proceeded slowly down the river.

The Royal squadron proceeded at half speed. The Victoria send Albert, Captain Lord Adolphus Fltzclarence, carried the Royal standard at the main, and the Admiralty flag at the fore; and as she majestically swept past the numerous craft, was cheered most enthusiastically by the crews. She had the start of the Black Eagle, steam-yacht, and Vivid, steam-packet, for several minutes; but the Vivid soon came up with the Royal yacht, and took up her station at about half a cable's length on the port quarter. The Black Eagle was to have followed at a similar distance on the starboard quarter, but the Victoria and Albert very soon put on full speed, and the Black Eagle could not come up to her station. The position, however, which was assigned to the Black Eagle, was most ably and gracefully occupied by a remarkably handsome private steam-yacht, and being of similar rig to the Vivid, the progress of the trio down the river produced a beautiful effect. Of course the two smaller vessels were much faster than the Victoria and Albert, and had to work expansively, and to ease almost every five minutes, to keep at a respectful distance.

As the squadron proceeded, numerous steam-vessels, crowded with passengers, sheered heartily as they swept by. A Royal salute greeted the Royal yacht at Erith, and a salute from the grounds of Mr. James Harmer, at Greenhithe, brought the Queen and Prince Albert on the peddle-box gallery of the Victoria end Albert, where they remained until the arrival of the squadron off Gravesend, when another salute was fired from the Rosherville-pier, and the cannon from Tilbury Fort thundered forth its homage. Several ships, too, manned yards and cheered, and the Queen and the Prince both repeatedly acknowledged with many bows the repeated enthusiastic acclamations which burst forth from the numerous vessels which were passed.

On arriving at the Nore, the Virago steam-sloop, Commander Harris, was found to be underweigh, rockets shot up from the shore, and signal-lights issued from the flag-ship, the Ocean. These were answered from the Royal yacht, and the signal was, instead of anchoring, as at first intended, to proceed; the fineness of the night, which was very beautiful indeed—the moon having risen, and the stars twinkling in great brilliancy, no wind and a clear course—tempted those who had charge of the navigation to make the most of these providential circumstances, and to push on without stopping, so that they might be able to get into real blue water in good time.

The Virago now took the place of the private yacht before mentioned, and sway sped the Royal squadron.

Contrary to general expectation, the squadron proceeded direct to sea, not anchoring in the Swin, as was anticipated, for the night. The outer course was taken, probably, to ensure the greatest possible security.

The Royal yacht passed Harwich at eleven o'clock at night, Lowestoffe at two 'clock, and Yarmouth shortly before three o'clock A.M. The track from the Thames was N.N.E., passing outside of the Gunfleet, and proceeding in that direction until abreast of the Holme Sands, off Lowestoffe, when she bore due south. On clearing the Newark and Cross Shoals, the course was altered to N.N.W., which would bring the Royal yacht direct on to the Scottish coast.

Her Majesty passed Mundesley at half-past five A.M. on Wednesday; two other steamers in company. Weather very fine, with a light breeze from W. by N.