Pre 1897 thumbnails

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Neg. No: GP (L) 5708
Neg. Size: 15"x12"
Neg. Date: None

copyright V&A

Sitters: King George V (1865-1936) & Queen Mary (1867-1953) when Duke & Duchess of York.

King George V (1865-1936) & Queen Mary (1867-1953) when Duke & Duchess of York.

King George V (1865-1936) & Queen Mary (1867-1953) when Duke & Duchess of York.

King George V (1865-1936) & Queen Mary (1867-1953) when Duke & Duchess of York.

Sketch published in The Queen, 10 July 1892

Image displayed in:

Married in 1895, George became heir to the throne upon the death of his brother the Duke of Clarence in 1892. Princess Mary of Teck (daughter of Princess Mary and Duke Francis of Teck) who had been the Duke of Clarence’s fiancée was passed on to George. There was family precedent for this, as George’s own aunt, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, had been betrothed to the Tsarevich. However, when he died of menengitis in 1865, she was passed on to the next brother, the new Tsarevich (later Tsar Alexander III).

Notwithstanding the inauspicious genesis of their union, the Duke and Duchess of York were, according to all accounts, deeply devoted to each other throughout their lives, preferring the simplicity of fidelity and the family hearth to the fast living exemplified by George’s father, Edward, Prince of Wales and his own son, the future short-reigning King Edward VIII.

For the Ball, the Duke of York is costumed as “The Queen’s Champion” in the Elizabethan procession. The costume, by Monsieur Alias, a renowned London theatrical costumier, is very closely modelled on a 1590 portrait by the miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1558-1605) – the champion of Queen Elizabeth I, who played an important part in the destruction of the Spanish Armada and was first Governor of the East India Company. The Duke himself was a navy man and had been married wearing the uniform of a naval captain.

Monsieur Alias ensured that the press had detailed costume descriptions for publication informing history that the Duke wears a pourpoint and sleeves of Genoa ciselé velvet embroidered with gold. His trunks are crimson velvet embroidered gold over grey satin. The high grey suede boots are rolled down at the top and in his grey felt hat he the a copy of the jewelled glove given to Cumberland by Queen Elizabeth I. The uncomfortable-looking steel gorget was lined with gold.

The Duchess, in the entourage of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, was robed as a lady at the court of Marguerite de Valois, a choice most probably influenced by the popularity of Meyerbeer’s opera Les Huguenots and the fact that the Princess of Wales needed six contemporaneous ladies in her entourage. For the role, the Duchess wears a blue satin dress, embroidered with silver, with a high wired lace collar studded with diamonds.

Among the identifiable jewels adorning the costume and the person, and showing the future Queen’s incipient appreciation of jewellery, are the ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’ tiara, diamond and drop pearl earrings, a five-row pearl necklace with the ‘Warwick’ sun brooch attached as pendant; the ‘Ladies of England’ pearl and diamond necklace, a baroque pearl and diamond brooch, a diamond stomacher, the ‘Kensington’ bow brooch; the ‘Dorset’ bow brooch and diamond and pearl bracelets attached to the the cuffs.



(King George V) The Queen's Champion, George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1558-1605);(1)

(Queen Mary) 'A Lady at the court of Marguerite de Valois'.(2)

Date: 2 July 1897.

Occasion: The Devonshire House Ball, 2nd July 1897.

Location: Devonshire House, Piccadilly, London, W.

Descr: FL standing.


King George:

"...Pourpoint and sleeves of Genoa velvet cisele, with small basques, embroidered gold all over, with bands of embroidery in front of pourpoint, and side seams of sleeves certis of jewels; trunks of bands of crimson velvet, embroidered gold, covering bouillonne of grey satin; gorget of steel damasquine gold, with ruff round; high felt hat, with brim turned up and three grey feathers; cordeliere glove fixed in front of hat, which this commander always wore, and which was given him by Queen Elizabeth; hauts de chausse, grey silk; high boots, grey Suede; Crispin gloves; mantle of Genoa velvet cisele, embroidered with band all round, embroidered and studded with jewels; sword-belt of grey velvet, with gold mounts; gold-hilted sword, grey velvet scabbard; ribbon of the Garter round neck, with Order. Made by Alias, 36, Soho-square. (The Queen, The Lady's Newspaper, July 10, 1897, p. 65)(3)

Queen Mary:

"...Pale blue satin, embroidered all over in pearls and silver, with seven large diamond stars down the front of the skirt; the satin bodice embroidered in bows and knots in diamonds on the stomacher, and the top ornamented with large pendant pearls. Medici collar of old lace embroidered with silver; sleeves to match, and deep cuffs encrusted with pearls and diamonds; and round the waist a silver fringe studded with diamonds." (The Times, Saturday July 3, 1897 p.12, col. 3.)

Costume Supplier: (King George V) Alias, 36 Soho Square, London, W.

Orders, Decorations and Medals:

(King George V) The Order of the Garter (ck date for Cumberland). (possibly), the 'George' presented by the 'Georges' in the Houses of Parliament and in the Public Service on the occasion of the marriage of King George V & Queen Mary 1893.


(Queen Mary) The 'Girls of Great Britain and Ireland' tiara, (adapted for the occasion); diamond and drop pearl earrings; 5 row pearl necklace with the 'Warwick' sun brooch attached as pendant; the 'Ladies of England' pearl and diamond necklace, Hunt & Roskell, c. 1893; baroque pearl and diamond brooch, (wedding gift from Duchess of Bedford); the 'Kensington' bow brooch; the 'Dorset' bow brooch; (possibly) diamond and pearl bracelets (attached to cuffs), (wedding gifts from the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London).

Furniture and Props: Backdrop, painted to suggest the garden statuary at Devonshire House.

Registered Photographer: James Stack Lauder (1853-1923), trading as 'J. Lafayette', 179, New Bond Street, London, W.

Evidence of the studio at work: -

No of poses: 1 [For HL version of King George V, see COPY 1/431, Public Record Office, Kew.]

Note: Another image from this sitting appears on a print [referred to as 2637] in a display album of images of sitters connected with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations]

Copyright: V&A

All images on this site are copyright V&A. For further information on using or requesting copies of any images please contact the V&A Picture Library: including the URL of the relevant page

Provenance: Pinewood Studios; acquired 1989.


Biog: Dictionary of National Biography; Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd ed., Burke's Royal Families of the World, Vol I, London, 1977, pp 185 & 309.

Occasion: Sophia Murphy, The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball, London, 1984.

Role & Costume:

(King George V & Queen Mary) The Daily Chronicle, 3 July 1897, p 7g; The Daily News, 3 July 1897, p 5f; The Daily Telegraph, 3 July 1897, p 9f & g; The Irish Times, 3 July 1897, p 8c; The Morning Post, 3 July 1897, p 7f; New York Daily Tribune, 3 July 1897, p 7b; New York Herald, 3 July 1897, p 1e; Pall Mall Gazette, 3 July 1897, p 7b; The Standard, 3 July 1897, p 4a & b; The Times, 3 July 1897, p 12c; The Daily Graphic, 5 July 1897, pp 8a, 12 & 13a; Truth, 8 July 1897, p 108b; The Court Circular, 10 July 1897, p 624a; The Court Journal, 10 July 1897, p 1247b; The Graphic, 10 July 1897, pp 78b & 79a.

(King George V) The Echo, 3 July 1897, p 1f; Black and White, 10 July 1897, p 56a; The Clarion, 10 July 1897, p 1b; The Queen, 10 July, 1897, p 65 (line drawing).

(Queen Mary) The Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 July 1897, p 1c; The Westminster Gazette, 3 July 1897, p 5a; The Lady, 8 July 1897, p 43c; Madame, 10 July 1897, p 69a; The Queen, 10 July, 1897, p 76a.

Orders, Decorations & Medals: (King George V) The Queen, 12 August 1893, p 283.

Jewellery: (Queen Mary) Leslie Field, The Queen's Jewels, London, 1987; Suzy Menkes, The Royal Jewels, London, 1989; James Pope Hennessey, Queen Mary, London, 1959, p 163; The Lady, 7 July 1893 p 14a; The Graphic, 15 July, 1893; The Graphic 5 August 1893, p 239.

Photog: Copyright Records, Public Record Office, Kew, COPY 1/431, 3 September 1897; The Daily Telegraph, 3 July 1897, p 9f; Black and White, 10 July 1897, p 38b.

Reproduced: Black & White, 10 July 1897, p 39; The Graphic, 10 July 1897, p 78; Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball, July 2 1897: A Collection of Portraits in Costume of Some of the Guests, privately printed, 1899, p 5; (National Portrait Gallery Archives); The Sketch, 20 March 1901, p 355; Sara Stevenson and Helen Bennett, Van Dyck in Check Trousers: Fancy Dress in Art and Life 1700-1900, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1978; Our King and Queen, J.A. Hammerton (ed), The Amalgamated Press Ltd. London, 1935, Vol I, p 186

1. (Earl of Cumberland) See Dictionary of National Biography.

2. (Marguerite de Valois) Historical figure and character from Les Huguenots - opera in five acts by Giaccomo Meyerbeer, first performed, Paris 1836. {One of the half-dozen most performed operas at Covent Garden in the ten years preceding the Devonshire House Ball - RH.}

3. (George V) For costume sources, see portraits of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland as the Queen's Champion e.g. FL miniature, Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1590, National Maritime Museum; H&S, after Nicholas Hilliard, Bodleian Library; 19th century copy after Bodleian Library version, National Portrait Gallery. Refs: Roy Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraiture, London, 1969; Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, London, 1983.