Christmas at Windsor for Tommy’s Wife and Children: 1900




On Bank Holiday the Queen gave a sumptuous feast in Windsor Castle to the wives and children of the soldiers who are fighting her battles in South Africa. All the women married to soldiers now at the front who lived in Windsor and its neighbourhood were invited to the Castle with their children. The crown and glory of the Yuletide festival was a giant Christmas tree.

St. George’s noble hall sheltered the Christmas tree and tea party. The tree was the third of its kind seen by the Castle this year, the others being respectively for the Royal children and the household. For more than 50 Christmases they have risen and shone under her care, first for her children, then for her children’s children.


Twenty-five feet was the height of the Christmas tree, brought from Windsor Forest. It seemed to touch the roof, but that was an illusion, there being seven feet to spare. A most imposing spectacle it was, its branches bearing countless silvered globes, little flags, and, what the humble guests—especially the young ones—approved still more, toys, packages, of sweets, and other presents, for all the delightful fruit hanging on the tree was for the visitors, in addition to more bulky and useful gifts for the mothers in particular. It would have been hopeless to attempt to persuade any child that these bigger things were the natural product of a larch; therefore no attempt was made to hang them on the boughs. To the Princesses who spent Christmas with the Queen belonged the honour of dressing, or directing the dressing, of the fairy tree, but they were assisted, or hindered, by male relatives occasionally looking in with suggestions grave and gay.


There were no half-measures about the Queen’s kindness to her humble guests. She sent each an invitation on the glossiest of cards, with border, crown, and the words “Windsor Castle” all in gold. It informed them that they would be received at a quarter-past four, but it named no time for the close of the entertainment, as that might have led to hurry and an ungracious end. Nor did the card say that the Queen invited Mrs. Brown, or whoever the good lady might be. It began simply with the words, “Mrs. Brown is invited to Windsor Castle,” etc. The tickets were distributed among the women and children connected with the Blues, the 2nd Life Guards, and various regiments of the line. The guests included 40 wives and about 45 children, about two-thirds of whom belong to Reservists. Invitations for persons connected with the 1st Life Guards were received from the Castle and sent on by the officers of that regiment. In this case there were about 25 mothers and 50 little ones; so that the total number of Her Majesty’s guests was something like 160.


Arrayed in their Sunday clothes the mothers and little ones, the former trembling in some cases with excitement, and the latter bursting with expectation, found themselves punctually in the great hall, where they were visited by the Queen. There, in addition to the marvellous tree, they at once discovered delightful preparations for the tea promised by the Sovereign. They were overwhelmed when they found that nearly all the Royal inhabitants of the Castle were present, and not, as far as the ladies were concerned, as mere lookers-on.

The Queen, after seeing the women and children seated, left the hall for a time, and, on returning, was wheeled round the tables by her attendants, Her Majesty occasionally speaking a few words to the visitors. It was a delightful gathering and a private one, the Queen wishing the wives and children of her soldiers to be treated as if they were of the highest rank.

New Zealand Herald, 24 February 1900: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The casually-mentioned “battles in South Africa,” were the Boer War.

The party was a gracious gesture by Her Gracious Majesty, who would celebrate only one more Christmas before her death in January 1901.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


3 thoughts on “Christmas at Windsor for Tommy’s Wife and Children: 1900

  1. davekingsbury

    I thought Victoria was writing to herself for a moment, until I remembered I was confusing the following bit for that film with Judy Dench and Billy Connolly …

    “Nor did the card say that the Queen invited Mrs. Brown, or whoever the good lady might be. It began simply with the words, “Mrs. Brown is invited to Windsor Castle,” etc.”

    Off with my head?


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      There has been a good deal of tittle-tattle about Her Majesty “Mrs Brown,” some of which, Mrs Daffodil confesses, seems quite credible. There were rumours of a marriage certificate, which King Edward caused to be burnt, but who can say? She would not have been the first lady to become enamoured of a well-set-up man in a kilt.
      Best Wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil

      Liked by 1 person


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