Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mourning a Royal Duke

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Loretta reports:

I couldn’t find the official mourning proclamation for Princess Charlotte, but did find this, for the Duke of Kent (Queen Victoria’s father) who died in 1820.

Lord Chamberlain's Office, Jan. 25.
Orders for the Court's going into mourning, on Sunday next, the 30th instant, for his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, viz.
The ladies to wear black bombazins, plain muslin or long lawn, crape hoods, chamois shoes and gloves, and crape fans.
Undress.—Dark Norwich crape.
The gentlemen to wear black cloth, without buttons on the sleeves or pockets, plain muslin or long lawn cravats and weepers, chamois shoes and gloves, crape hatbands, and black swords and buckles.
Undress.—Dark gray frocks.

Herald's College
, Jan. 25.

The deputy earl Marshal's order for a general mourning for his late royal highness the duke of Kent.
In pursuance of the commands of his royal highness the Prince Regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty.
These are to give public notice, that it is expected that upon the present melancholy occasion of the death of his late royal highness Edward Duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, all persons do put themselves into decent mourning, the said mourning to begin on Sunday next, the 30th instant.
HENRY HOWARD - MOLYNEUX-HOWARD, Deputy Earl-Marshal.

Horse-Guards, Jan, 25. It is not required that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion than a black crape round their left arms with their uniforms.

By command of his royal highness the commander-in-chief.
HARRY CALVERT, Adjutant-General.

Admiralty-Office, Jan. 25.

His royal highness the Prince Regent does not require that the officers of his majesty's fleet or marines should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion of the death of his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, than a black crape round their arms with their uniforms. J. W. CHOKER.

You can find out more about mourning during the Regency at the Jane Austen Centre.

This mourning dress from La Belle Assembleé for December 1817 might have been worn for Princess Charlotte. The illustration is from the Regency Library collection.

11 comments:

Ingrid said...

'It is not required that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion than a black crape round their left anus with their uniforms.'

Well that cheered me up on a dull November morning! Two anuses each, who'd have thought!

Jane O said...

'It is not required that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion than a black crape round their left anus with their uniforms.'

I am glad I had swallowed my coffee before I read that.

LorettaChase said...

Ooops. Google books plain text makes as many typos as I would do. I missed that one. Glad the mourning gave you a laugh.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

EVIL Googlebooks. They will do that sometimes. Well, at least we know Our Readers do Read.

I wonder if this required mourning was issued to the military men, or whether they were all obligated to provide it for themselves? One wonders what these men thought of being required to wear mourning in honor of a fourth royal son, but not for comrades who were killed in battle around them. (Though that observation's probably so 21st c. American that it's not worth further comment....*g*)

nightsmusic said...

Susan, it might be 21st c. American, but I was thinking the same thing.

What I found interesting is, I thought mourning was all black, unlike the La Belle Assembleé which has white sleeves. (I'm sorry, but that really is a most unattractive dress. At least to me.) So when did they start to intermix colors? Or was that always the way and so many authors just got it wrong?

Danielle Thorne said...

I find it especially interesting that the Navy's officers didn't have to wear any dress other than an armband. Makes sense.

Loretta Chase said...

Mourning was an important ritual until very recently. I don't know that soldiers couldn't wear arm bands for their comrades, as well as for relatives. It seems possible, in a society when mourning was so important. I don't find it troubling, in any case. The orders for mourning in the military aren't all that different from our flying a flag at half-staff when a major figure dies, or a catastrophe occurs.

Mourning wasn't exclusively black, as the orders indicate. "Dark Norwich crape" for undress means a dark, opaque crape. Not all crape is black. I'll describe the dress --which is undress--in more detail in a separate comment.

Loretta Chase said...

The illustrated dress (actually for Jan 1818, but appearing in Dec 1817 LBA), is described thus: "Fancy Mourning Deshabille. Morning slip of grey Merino crape, ornamented with black round the border in ranges of leaves; the slip made low, without sleeves, and worn over a cambric spenser, ornamented with fine muslin, embroidered at the edge with black, and finished at the throat with a triple ruff of muslin, tied in front with black love. Black sarsnet French apron, edged round with a newly invented trimming of black love. Cornette of fine muslin, crowned with a garland of black flowers. Black chamois slippers." IOW, the part that looks blue in the picture is actually grey. Again, credit for both print and description goes to Regency Library, http://www.regencylibrary.com/

nightsmusic said...

Thanks, Loretta! :D You've definitely made me rethink how I'll be imagining things when I read "mourning dress".

Loretta Chase said...

Nightmusic, I'm glad I opened an interesting window for you! If you can get your hands on Ackermann's Costume Plates: Women's Fashions in England, 1818-1828, you'll find some very good examples of mourning attire. There's a striking carriage dress, lined, cuffed, and collared with ermine. On one of Candice Hern's collection pages, look at Figure 9.
http://www.candicehern.com/collections/03/dresses_04.htm.
There's lots of interesting Regency-era mourning out there to give you an idea of how very not dull mourning could be.

nightsmusic said...

Loretta, nightsmusic is me, theo, sorry. I have to remember to look at what I'm signed in under on blogger.

Sorry, duh...I have nothing but the flu to blame it on.

Have you seen this site? They show mourning and 'half-mourning' dresses. I thought it was quite interesting:

http://locutus.ucr.edu/~cathy/dress/mourn.html

You can get there from The Costumers Manifesto ( http://www.costumes.org )

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