As I have written elsewhere, I am an ardent admirer of Prince Albert, the husband and consort of Queen Victoria. So I was excited to read that the Royal Collection Trust is in the process of digitizing an enormous collection of his letters, photographs, and papers (both official and private). A press release yesterday from the Royal Collection Trust announced The Prince Albert Digitisation Project:
An unparalleled collection of papers and primary materials belonging to Prince Albert is due to be published online by Royal Collection Trust over the next two years, transforming our knowledge of Queen Victoria’s consort.
The three-year Prince Albert Digitisation Project, scheduled for completion at the end of 2020, will make available on the Royal Collection Trust website some 23,500 items from the Royal Archives, Royal Collection and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. This wide-ranging material, most of which has never been published before, will shed new light on Albert’s contribution as consort of Queen Victoria, unofficial Private Secretary, a guide and mentor to some of the greatest national projects of his day, university chancellor, art historian, collector and patron of art, architecture and design. The first tranche will be published in the summer of 2019 to mark the bicentenary of Prince Albert’s birth.
The Prince Albert Digitisation Project is supported by Sir Hugh and Lady Stevenson in honour of the late Dame Anne Griffiths DCVO, former Librarian and Archivist to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, and by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Royal Collection Trust is also partnering with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, on a post-doctoral research fellowship, building on a previous collaboration to present Queen Victoria’s Journals online.
Prince Albert (1819–1861) was the second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. He married Queen Victoria, his first cousin, in 1840. The period of his active life in Britain saw a fundamental change in social welfare, university education, the structure of government and parliament, and in British relations with the rest of the world. It witnessed the arrival of railways and fast transatlantic trade, the rise of trade unions, and the transformation of Britain into a world-class industrial economy and sea power.
The Prince Albert Digitisation Project will bring together official and private papers relating to Prince Albert from the Royal Archives and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851; material in the Royal Library, including catalogues of Prince Albert’s private library; inventories of paintings commissioned or collected by Albert; the Raphael Collection, the Prince’s study collection of more than 5,000 prints and photographs after the works of Raphael; and the significant body of early photography collected and commissioned by Prince Albert (more than 10,000 photographs).
Oliver Urquhart Irvine, The Librarian & Assistant Keeper of The Queen’s Archives, said, ‘The Prince Albert Digitisation Project will increase understanding of material held in the Royal Archives, Royal Collection and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and enable a comprehensive study of the life, work and legacy of Prince Albert on a scale that does justice to his contribution to 19th-century Britain and the world. We are very grateful to Sir Hugh and Lady Stevenson for their support and look forward to working with our partners to create a resource which will transform academic and public access to this unparalleled collection, and will allow a fresh assessment of this influential man.’